Asked on Jan 13, 2015

How can I update the fireplace without ripping out the existing marble

Nancy Nadin
by Nancy Nadin
We are ordering new carpeting in a soft green which looks awful with this outdated marble fireplace surround. The fireplace is a gas insert, and we have an inside fan which keeps the surround fairly cool. Someone told me we could perhaps use "Smart Tiles" and stick them to the marble. Do you have any suggestions whether this might work? I have investigated chalk paint, as well. We will definitely spray paint the brass on the permanent fire screen with a high heat paint! Thank you.
  27 answers
  • Rebecca Larson Rebecca Larson on Jan 14, 2015
    The brass insert is the first thing I would get rid of, it really dates the fireplace... and if you really hate the marble yet don't want remove it look at the glass back splash tiles at your local home improvement store-you could probably apply them right over it to freshen it up...
  • Patricia Halabet Patricia Halabet on Jan 14, 2015
    I would retile tile the FP with black marble wall tile that has gold veins in it. Paint out of the brass with heat resistant stove-blacking. I would for SURE repaint all that horrid fake would with semi-gloss paint. I would choose a light color, cream, linen, lt. tan.
  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Jan 14, 2015
    I don't like the oak, either! It matches the original kitchen cupboards which I don't care for at all! Thank you for your suggestion, and in the future we plan to paint or refinish all of the oak!
  • Joyce Overbay Joyce Overbay on Jan 14, 2015
    Sometimes different color of walls makes a fireplace look better. I would change inserts though. My walls were a light green w/stone fireplace so I painted a charcoal grey and now the fireplace pops! Added an ole wooden mantel over it and want gas logs but for now using the fake ones but quest still stand in front to get warm!
  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Jan 14, 2015
    Kim, Thank you for your smart tile suggestion! We will definitely look into those! I loved looking at them on Pinterest, and the answer about the surround not being a direct heat source was very helpful!
  • Ltt834476 Ltt834476 on Jan 14, 2015
    I'm not that fan of oak either. I would sand the whole thing down and stain with mahogany stain, add embellishment in the center of the fireplace as well. You can find it at Lowe's or Home Depot. Paint the brass with a black chalk paint. And spray paint the tile with that paint spray that has the stone look. Maybe a beige color so it will be a more natural color to match any decor. Also found at Lowe's or Home Depot. And if you want that room to look larger, add a mirror to the back wall over the fireplace. And change out your knobs to rest of the book case/hutch next to the fireplace.
  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Jan 14, 2015
    Thank you all for the suggestions! Here's a photo of the whole thing...
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  • Susan Woolley Havlicsek Susan Woolley Havlicsek on Jan 14, 2015
    You could spray paint the brass with a heat resistant spray paint.
  • CK CK on Jan 14, 2015
    We know you're going to paint the brass in black, so that's good. Had I been called in for a consult, I would have worked with the green marble tiles when choosing the carpet. They're not that ugly (IMHO) and finding a carpet to coordinate with them and the wood would have been pretty simple. However, you have already chosen your carpet and say it'll look awful with the green marble tiles. Wait awhile until you see the carpet fully installed. You may be pleasantly surprised how it looks in your room. If it's not really awful, I'd start working with accessories to pull the carpet's color and the marble together. Personally I think the marble is fabulous...especially if its the real deal :-) Having visited Europe last year and seeing marble and other natural stone in castles and old homes, I'd be trying to work with this as much as possible rather than cover it. It' what I'd call a 'classic" :-)
  • CK CK on Jan 14, 2015
    P.S. Some re-accessorizing of your fireplace shelves will do wonders too in updating. :-)
  • Kathy Kathy on Jan 15, 2015
    As a faux finisher in years passed, I still get calls to do the tough jobs and I recently had a fireplace just like this that had to be made to look like travertine. There is a new primer by XIM that is for slick surfaces. They have an oil and a latex. It worked great. I primed the surface and then it was ready for a new look! I also agree with the brass being painted!
    • Tkell Tkell on Sep 01, 2018

      So you can just paint the marble with what your suggesting?

  • Pat769509 Pat769509 on Jan 15, 2015
    we took out the plain tiles around our fireplace and replaced it with Travertine tiles that we bought at a tile store, so glad we did it looks gorgeous! also the gold insert I would get rid of and go with a black insert.
  • Yveline Reisner Yveline Reisner on Jan 15, 2015
    Make sure you paint the brass with black Barbecue paint. That is heat resistant!!!!
  • PattyV PattyV on Jan 15, 2015
    I really think you need to determine first what you style is in your decor. If you liked cottage chic then painting the wood white would really tie into that theme. If you like more traditional, I would say staining the wood a darker rich color. Or, I would stain an ebony which would really compliment the marble making it blend in more. Your TV and Fireplace screen (once painted of course) would recede and pairing down your accessories on the mantel would really showcase your dishes.
  • Trash Find Redesigned Trash Find Redesigned on Jan 16, 2015
    Nancy, if it was mine...I would get rid of the brass insert altogether. I would then build over the marble by adding my own wood covering all of the marble. I'd paint the entire unit a bright crisp white and change out the door knobs. Love your rustic looking lantern btw :)
  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Jan 16, 2015
    Thank you all so much for your help!! We have decided that this weekend we will paint the entire "oak" around the fireplace! (neither one of us is a fan of oak) We are thinking about painting it one or two shades darker than the walls - in satin or semi-gloss. We are considering painting the recessed "wall" of the mantle a bit darker. What do you think? I like the arrangement of the mantle and the Spode Christmas plates behind the doors. We will DEFINITELY paint the brass trim black and switch out the brass knobs on the doors. Here are photos of the rest of the Great Room so you can see our decor... thank you in advance for all of your kindness!!
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  • Janet Rivenbark Janet Rivenbark on Jan 16, 2015
    You can paint marble. I helped a friend update the look of marble in her bath room a few years ago and she used this technique:
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 16, 2015
    If your green carpeting has a bit of a blue undertone, it will look nice with the marble. I would stain the oak darker. I've done this on smaller pieces. I just clean it, then "paint" on the darker stain and then spray on a coat of poly to hold it. Agree with black for screen and knobs.
  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Feb 13, 2015
    Soon I will show you the "AFTER" photos - fireplace looks awesome!!!
  • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Sep 02, 2015
    Nancy Nadin Where are those "After" photos?
  • Kimberly Ann Kimberly Ann on Feb 09, 2021

    I also have this issue! An ugly color was in then enter and I painted it white. I was wondering if you could have marble sanded down to look like slate? We don’t like the shiny look. Glass tiles over the black and of course over the bottom part out later ring.

    I hope the op returns with a picture! In the meantime I’ll post one of mine and hopefully I can find an answer to my marble issues too!

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    • Kimberly Ann Kimberly Ann on Feb 09, 2021

      who would you call to remove something? I’m thinking of removing the two towers and putting in a mantle maybe. Our home is very unique so I have to try to stay with the theme.

  • Chelsey Chelsey on Feb 10, 2021

    maybe update the wall color and put the wood painted as a white.

  • Sandra Catton Sandra Catton on Oct 20, 2021

    Hello. I have this exact same fireplace. I’ve seen your after pics. It looks amazing. How did you get rid of the green marble and the brass?

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    • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Oct 20, 2021

      Hi Sandra!

      It’s been so long since we did this, and my husband has subsequently passed away, and I have moved, but I’ll try to remember. We somehow took the brass pieces to a fireplace shop, and they spray painted them with black paint. We found 12” squares (like tiles) of the surface we liked at Lowe’s, and he “glued” the squares to the marble using some kind of mortar or something. Lowe’s cut the pieces to fit! We never had any trouble with it after that!! Please let me know if this works for you if you decide to go this route!

  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Oct 20, 2021

    The squares we used were similar to this

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  • Sandra Catton Sandra Catton on Oct 20, 2021

    Thank you for the information. I’m sorry to bring up old memories.

  • Nancy Nadin Nancy Nadin on Oct 20, 2021

    Oh, no problem at all!!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 30, 2023

    You could use Copper tile overlays to blend in with your timber.