Asked on Sep 07, 2015

Painting a lava rock wall mantle

by VictoriaAngello
We have a volcanic rock wall/fireplace, can it be painted? Has anyone tried it? Has anyone tried to plaster over and then paint it? Kinda like the plastering and painting old tile counters? I know plastering would not make it smooth but it would take a lot of the rock look out. Also on the list is covering it with a curtain or framing and sheet rocking it. Those two things we know how to do. We are looking for other creative ideas. Thanks in advance.
Here is a photo of the whole wall. Yuck.
Here are close ups of the rock. It doesn't look to much better in person
Got ta love the 70's
  25 answers
  • on Sep 07, 2015
    We are not sure if you can paint volcanic rock. However, you can cover it. Check out these fireplace makeovers:
  • Carol Carol on Sep 07, 2015
    The intricacy of the rocks, the way they fit together so closely, is interesting to look at. I don't see why you could not paint it... people paint rocks all the time. I would give it a coat of Kilz primer first, then have at it! I would paint rather than cover it because it adds interest. You might want to rent a sprayer. It will be beautiful when painted. Go! Do! I would love to see it when done.
  • Z Z on Sep 07, 2015
    Lava rock is quite porous, so it would be a pain to paint it. You might be better off to stain it. It would take less coats and still update the look. Just a thought.
  • PWNelson PWNelson on Sep 08, 2015
    Give it a whitewash finish. It will brighten the area, but not lose the integrity of the stone. Whitewash is a lot more forgiving than paint and you might love it with just one coat. Post pics when your project is completed.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Sep 08, 2015
    Honestly I do not think the paint will adhere to the rock. I think maybe if you paint the wall by the the fireplace it could change the look.
  • Taffetal Taffetal on Sep 08, 2015
    Noooo! That rock is so beautiful! It's a work of art.
  • Beans Beans on Sep 08, 2015
    Wow! I had one just like it in pink and black tones. Worse than horrible. What I did was take about 6 0r 7 colors of craft paint (cheap) and dabbed them on with makeup sponges. I used brown and tan tones and just went at it. Not messy and now I get compliments on how nice and natural it looks. Worth a try.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Sep 08, 2015
    Well it depends upon what it is that you don't like about this! A softer wall colour would harmonize everything, or if you were really keen to paint, try a small spot first to check for durability. I personally would not paint over it completely, because there is so much texture. I would blend in the colours as Beans said; starting darker and working up to a lighter shade as you see fit
  • LD LD on Sep 08, 2015
    Many years ago in a house I had the owners of the hours had down one wall in the living room with faux stone and it wasn't even a good job, so we had drywall put over it and are trim, and you would of never known it had stone underneath.
  • Jim L Jim L on Sep 08, 2015
    I think that if you do paint this, you will live to regret it! Paint the room a medium gray and the rock wall will look so much better.
  • Shelly Shelly on Sep 08, 2015
    What if you took off the rock? Safety glasses, sledge hammer, steel toe boots, and a lot of fun. Then you can do anything you want.
  • Kat Kat on Sep 08, 2015
    White wash and then a mosaic tile on mantle and hearth. What is the rest of the room like?
  • Jeannette Jeannette on Sep 08, 2015
    My parent's house had a wall similiar to yours, back in the 80's I primed and painted it with a cream eggshell paint, just because I didn't know what else to do with was definitely an improvement! Now there are so many building materials to use, I would imagine you have more options!
  • Kim S Kim S on Sep 09, 2015
    Attached are the pictures of our old house before and after, we took the rock off. It's not that hard, then sheet rocked it and I faux finished the walls. We took the rock off because we thought it easier than trying to build a box around it and the irregular edges so close to the windows. I think if you paint it you will regret it because it will be so much work and the result will be so so. The cost of taking it out and putting in sheet rock is minimal.
    • Sandra Sandra on Sep 10, 2015
      @Kim S That is a huge and beautiful improvement! Great choices!
  • Kim S Kim S on Sep 09, 2015
    Here is our next house, we used faux stack stone after removing the hoop.
    • Debra Debra on Sep 11, 2015
      @Kim S Wow! I look that makeover, the wrought iron stair railing is gorgeous and so is the new mantle. Great vision-great job!
  • Sandra Sandra on Sep 10, 2015
    We were getting our house ready for sale and the lava rock looked like black mold according to our agent, lol. So we drybrushed the stone with lighter shades, see what you think. If we were staying I would have taken the stone off, it's not held on by much and they never grouted it.
    • See 1 previous
    • Sandra Sandra on Nov 18, 2017

      Hi Aimee, just used any creamy white color, you are going to dilute it anyway and you can apply more coats where you want it lighter. My daughter just painted her brick fireplace and used primer and it looks like chalk paint, lol. Hope that helps!

  • PAM PAM on Sep 13, 2015
    What we did was rip it out. Sorry, but we hated it. Luckily under it was brick and cinder blocks. We textured it with mortar and some white paint in places to make it look distresses like brick in old lofts. Good luck.
  • Louise Weston Louise Weston on Sep 14, 2015
    If framing is something you are comfortable with then taking off the lava is definitely your best option, if you're left with brick you can paint/ stain brilliant. If not you can still frame it etc. Attack with a bolster chisel & lump hammer (UK names, US might call it something else). I have grouted this sort of thing, then primed and painted it. Looks more like a natural stone chimney, very pretty. If you still don't like it then hack it off etc, haha. Painting this sort of thing is time consuming but this size of project is manageable.
  • Betsy McLean Betsy McLean on Sep 14, 2015
    Wow! we have a volcanic rock fireplace that we wanted to paint, too, and I have that very same question! Ours looks like pumice rock-- I'd prefer yours over what we have ANY day! I'm following your question so I can see if anyone has had any experience with painting it or plastering it. I'm not sure if the rocks will come off easily or not... However, my thought was to plaster over it and make it look like a Kiva fireplace and possibly add colored Mexican tile on the hearth and around the opening...
    • See 3 previous
    • Shellie Shellie on Jun 22, 2020

      How did your fireplace turn out? I have lava rock as well and thinking of painting

  • Jeannette Jeannette on Sep 15, 2015
    Omg, what are builders thinking with all this funky rock?
  • Sandra Sandra on Sep 15, 2015
    I was surprised how easily this stuff pops off. I was trying to hammer a nail for a picture and 3 rocks fell off, lol. It would easier to plaster if the rocks were removed and you only had to deal with the backing.
  • Jeannette Jeannette on Sep 15, 2015
    Yes, the pic enlarged so I could see it up close, and that's the first thing that came to.mind....spiderweb heaven...etc! At least it would be in my house! I plastered it myself, I couldn't tell you exactly what I used, it was 20 years ago...but pretty sure we mixed dry plaster/water in a 5 gallon bucket, using a drill attatcment. ...I actually tried to carve a design in the plaster while it was drying....thought I was being pretty tricky, but my kids said it looked like a scary face....when I stood back, they were right! So I plastered over that too, lol. It wasn't hard to do at all, I'm sure the guys at the Home improvement store could tell you what and how to use it. Good luck!
  • Gail Suter Gail Suter on Oct 09, 2015
    mine is rock, I haven't 'painted' but, I did polyeurahane it with beautiful shiny results. That was in 2005, It could use a recoat about now. I did paint a big rock to mark our driveway about 2006 and just used exterior paint, no primer, and its still looks fresh today.
  • 2bara 2bara on Sep 03, 2019

    I bought little bottles of acrylic paint. I wanted to lighten it up so where there was black on the fireplace, I dabbed brown. I put puddles of different colors on a paper plate and dabbed with a paper towel or pain brush. One day one of the rocks fell off and there was brick under it. I used a screwdriver and hammer to pop off the rocks. Now it has been re rocked with Eldorado stone and it is much more symmetrical and pleasing to me.

  • Sam Sam on Oct 14, 2020

    Hi, I know you posted long time ago but I wanted to know what did you end up doing? We are facing the same dilemma and planning to whitewash this ugly rocks. How did it work for you?