Would it devalue my fireplace to paint it out in white? It is currently gray brick.

Sue Curwin
by Sue Curwin
We have built-ins on either side of our gray brick fireplace, and I would love to paint the fireplace out in white. However, my husband feels it would be a bad idea.
My fireplace in question
  77 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Nov 09, 2012
    This can go both ways...some say yes...once you paint brick it is forever going to be "painted". I have seen some great brick paint jobs and some that were not so great. If the brick is really disgusting to you and painting it will make you happy, then you need to put a price on that happiness.
  • We cringe at the idea of painting brick; we recommend replacing it with a different stone or brick to suit your design style and perhaps extend it up to the ceiling to create a dramatic accent. You can also try to deep clean the brick and switch out the hearth with a slab of light grey limestone. Having some level of contrast against your white bookshelves is advised. However, if you're dead set on painting, our recommendation is to try to make it look as natural as possible. We haven't tried this product (so we can't endorse it) but you may want to research it or something like it to keep a natural looking brick finish. http://www.brick-anew.com/shop/brick-paint/fireplace-paint-kit.html
  • Ellen H Ellen H on Nov 09, 2012
    Painting it white will make the TV stand out even more. I don't have a problem with painting brick, but I actually like the grey brick. It could be dressed up just a bit. Are the bookshelves recessed into the walls? I like Hedberg's idea of extending the fireplace up to the ceiling but it could be done with wood and trim - doesn't have to be brick or stone. I would also consider either using the shelves more decoratively (display some great accessories in addition to books) or putting doors on them for a clean look, depending on your style.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback from everyone!
  • Terrie Kaufman Terrie Kaufman on Nov 09, 2012
    Painting it white will make it blend with the bookcases where now it stands out and doesn't look like it belongs. Go for it.....whats the worst that could happen.....you may need to paint it another color. Have fun
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    As fas as usuing the shelves more decoratively, ironically, I have been going through a major decluttering of my entire house, and getting rid of a lot of the accessories, lol!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Oh, I forgot, as far as the bookcases, no, they are not recessed.
  • Joy2Journey Joy2Journey on Nov 09, 2012
    I would paint it :)
  • I would not paint it, I would work more on the surrounding shelves etc to improve it. However you will not really devalue it, but you must remember that once paint touches it, there is really no way of going back. If you have been here on HT for any length of time, you would have seen many posts from other Home Talkers asking how to remove paint from their brick fireplaces wanting to bring it back. Your choice is really yours, and you need to like your home, but think you need to rethink the whole area before you just paint it white like the rest of the built ins that surround it. I think it will get lost in the wall as a result.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Thanks Becky, for that awesome drawing! As far as the TV goes, I wanted to raise it to be in between the two paints, but my husband didn't think it would make much of a difference for the difficulty in getting it up there. I disagreed, lol! I'm going to show him this drawing you did up...
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Thanks Woodbridge Environmental...no, actually I just found out about HT two days ago! I must have been living under a rock, or something, lol! Other people have been wondering how to get the paint OFF their fireplaces...very interesting...
  • Z Z on Nov 09, 2012
    You're welcome Sue. At the moment I'm still waiting to have a fireplace surround. After a year here without one I finally put up a couple wrought iron garden brackets and a long piece of one by eight. That was eight years ago. I had the plans all drawn up when hubby decided he wanted to do as little from scratch as possible. He'd just finished the bookcases in our home library. I figured we could use the unfinished ET center we were no longer using for our TV for one side. Luckily the manufacturer had three left so we ordered one and now I'm back to the drawing board. Personally if you're going to have the TV over the fireplace I think it's worth the trouble to mount it. I saw awhile back, I think on Pinterest, of how to hide the cords. I'll see if I saved it. If so I'll link you to it.
  • Z Z on Nov 09, 2012
    Yep, I saved it. I think it would work very well with your set up too. http://www.sawdustandpaperscraps.com/2011/02/28/how-to-hide-tv-cords-in-trim-work-guest-post/
  • Well welcome to HT. We hope to see you around more in the up coming months. There are a lot of great people with lots of knowledge in many areas. You will learn a lot from all of them.
  • 117135 117135 on Nov 09, 2012
    Paint it! It would make it look so much better. It would be a great contrast against the black fireplace face. You could also do a pop of color on the back of the built ins.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Thanks for the link, Becky! I showed my husband, and we are both very impressed! Now, we're wondering something else. We have a vaulted ceiling in the livingroom. It goes up on the right hand side of the fireplace. So, we're wondering if this moulding job above the firepace would look weird stopping above the paintings, where there would be a larger gap, before hitting the ceiling, on the right hand side of the fireplace. Make sense?
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    Thanks for your feedback, DeDe!
  • Becky P Becky P on Nov 09, 2012
    I bought a few "paint pods" from Ace (paint samples) and sponged some of the bricks lightly with a few beiges/off whites to give it definition. It made me feel better even though it's very subtle.
  • Z Z on Nov 09, 2012
    Sue, I think it could depending on how the rest of the room looks. Can you share a long shot photo of that room?
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 09, 2012
    So, I'm guessing, Becky, you had had the same dilemma...
  • Z Z on Nov 09, 2012
    No. all our ceiling heights are eight foot. I meant if I saw a picture of your room and how the ceiling relates to the fireplace and book cases I might be able to help you figure how to make the hide the cord idea work for you.
  • Terrie Kaufman Terrie Kaufman on Nov 10, 2012
    When a client has this problem we just drill a small hole (big enough for the end of the electric cord to go through) on the top shelf, unseen after something else is in front of it. Then you drill through the other two shelves and wella, those ugly cords are out of sight and where they need to be to hook into your system.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 10, 2012
    Oh Becky, my comment was just a bit delayed, my note referred to another comment you had made, not about your ceiling heights. As far as the ceiling height, here is a long shot of my livingroom. And, no, the wall color isn't pink, it's a sandy beige color, soon to be painted a soft green.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 10, 2012
    Thanks Terrie! Acutally, that would work, but the dramatic look of the link Becky sent me is kind of cool!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 10, 2012
    I have to say Becky, I'm loving the look of that! My husband and I were checking out the link you gave me last evening, and figuring out how we could do it. He says it would be pretty easy. With this look, I actually don't mind the natural look of brick. So my husband and I would both win! By the way, that dreawing program you have is really useful and cool.
  • Z Z on Nov 10, 2012
    I thought it might be something that appealed to you both. The Paint Program has really helped me in designing things around our home. My hubby is very visual so my drawing and designing ability has come in quite handy since we built our own home 9 years ago and are still in the process of finishing it. I design and figure the lumber and supply needs, we do the cuts together when an extra hand is needed, he stains and finishes and we install it together. We've become quite the DIY team.
  • Z Z on Nov 10, 2012
    Here's a little bit about Windows Paint. http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows-vista/Using-Paint You can find it in your Start Menu under accessories. It's actually showing an older version than the one that comes with Windows 7 which is what I'm using. I'm curious if they've made any changes for Windows 8.
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Nov 10, 2012
    I LOVE the picture/suggestion Becky gave you. One thing i would do is change or remove the pictures on either side of the TV. They are too much the same size as the TV and makes the clean lines look cluttered. I would do a little painting on the brick. Maybe lightly paint white and then take a sanding sponge and take off some of the white here and there to show some of the grey brick and it will give it a slight distressed look against the beautiful white bookcases and the suggestions Becky gave. Do you plan on painting the rest of the room? A medium charcoal grey or a blue grey would be so dramatic in your room.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 10, 2012
    Thanks Mary! Actually, I think we are going to go with Becky's suggestion. As far as lightly painting the brick, that was part of my whole problem. I wanted to, but my husband has a serious problem with painting the fireplace out. So, if we go with Becky's suggestion, I think I will be ale to "live" with the fireplace not painted, and have a very happy husband to boot, lol! As far as painting the room out, true, either of those two colors you suggested would look quite dramatic. The problem is that I have more of a "pretty" taste, and my husband's favorite color is green, so I was going to go with a pale green with a brown undertone. However, if we were "dramatic" people, those colors would look awesome!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 10, 2012
    Thanks for the link, Becky! Gosh, with all this help, if you lived closer to me, heck, if you lived in the same country as me, I think I would owe you a batch of fudge by now, lol!
  • Z Z on Nov 10, 2012
    LOL I could send you my address. ;^) Just kidding. I do love fudge though. Where in Canada do you live? I have a couple friends from there. One's in Alberta, Can't think where the other is from. I've known them both from Decor groups that go back more than a decade.
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 11, 2012
    @Z @Sue Curwin Becky, if she put some baskets with silk plants on that upper mantel would it help disguise or detract notice from that Angled ceiling in that corner? to me it is so visually "distracting" to see the sharp "custom build" look you developed and then the angle of the ceiling just takes away from it...I don't know how to explain it better....but it's just kind of disconserting and I thought baskets of silk Vines hanging over the edge Might soften that angle...do you think? Or would it make it more obvious?
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 11, 2012
    No I think the Built in look you developed looks AWESOME! But that angled ceiling distracts my eye and I don't know it's just not as appealing as if the ceiling were straight...so I thought maybe baskets of silk plants could help reduce that effect....
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    Becky, I live in New Brunswick.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    Hi Sharron W! Actually, I would be all for moving the whole fireplace to the high wall to the right of the unit, the wall my sofa is on, but I think I'm kind of stuck with what I have, if you know what I mean, lol!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    I am wondering, Becky, how odd it would look if the built in was angled toward the peak?
  • Ellen H Ellen H on Nov 11, 2012
    I would not angle the fireplace to match the ceiling angle. If you have trim all the way across, as in Becky's last pic, just paint the triangle above the same color as ceiling (which in fact may be the same color as the wood trim). If you put that trim from lowest ceiling height straight across, you could put it all the way around the room and paint everything above it (on all 3 walls) the ceiling color, to minimize the angles.
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 11, 2012
    @Ellen H Now That's an idea! That might work to reduce the "sharp angles" effect... Becky's Built in improves the fireplace SO much it's rediculous....
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 11, 2012
    Now that's what I was talking about, soften the hard lines....
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Nov 11, 2012
    Sue my favorite color is green too !
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    My, aren't we all "budding" artists around here, lol! I like the way it pulls it together, but I showed my husband, and he says, and I quote, "it's just too much stuff". Part of the problem is we are decluttering our entire house. I'm a woman with a mission. If it isn't "nailed down", it's going!
  • Z Z on Nov 11, 2012
    Thank you @Sharron. Personally I think it's a mater of how one sees the angle. To my eye the plants as you drew them, (you've got the Paint Program down quite well) drew my attention to the angled wall where as without them I really didn't see it. The built in unit is what drew my attention. @Ellen, I thought of your idea too, but didn't want to take the time to draw it. As it is I'm suppose to be getting changed to go into the city to get a few things we need for today's projects. Thank you @Sue. You are way east then. I have a friend that lives in Florida now but is from Nova Scotia. That area of Canada always makes me think of Anne of Green Gables. As mentioned above we'll be heading out soon so I can't take time to add more to the built in right now. If @Sharron doesn't beat me to it I'll do so this evening when I have more time.
  • Cathie J Cadman Cathie J Cadman on Nov 11, 2012
    Paint it white to match the white built in would make the wall flow better!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    Thanks for your input Cathie! Well Becky, I must say, I love that third picture, with the white going straight to the top! Then there's my husband. What can I say?! He thinks it looks too busy. Have I mentioned that I love it, lol?! As for the fourth picture, he says he likes the high ceiling (I do too), and he said the white extended to the other wall takes away from it. So far picture #2 is winning for him, and pictures # 2 and #3 are both winning for me!
  • Mark Washburn Mark Washburn on Nov 11, 2012
    Husbands rarely add value for such things. Trust your instincts and if he's like me, well, my wife quits asking for my input, does what she wants, and then waits patiently while I adjust and come to love it...:)
  • Ellen H Ellen H on Nov 11, 2012
    I really don't think the angle looks bad or odd in pic #2 - I mean, a vaulted ceiling is supposed to be a positive feature, so it seems almost wrong to try to disguise it.
  • Sweet Inspirations by JP Sweet Inspirations by JP on Nov 11, 2012
    We never regretted painting ours white...if you do just be sure to use a fire retardant paint...good luck!
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 11, 2012
    Oh WOW Becky, that looks great! I love nuber three picture...You're right all the difference...
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Nov 11, 2012
    @Z in NE number 2 gives open storage/decoration options and #3 gives hidden storage. Sue, I say paint the brick and use a different color for the back panels of the bookcases like DeDe suggested.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 11, 2012
    Mark, have you been talking with my husband, lol?! He keeps asking ME why I keep asking HIM for his opinion, because, and I quote "I'm a guy. I have no opinion." That's one of the reasons I started a decorating blog. To have some people to bounce ideas off off. The problem is only one person bounced back on this one. Gosh, I wish I had heard of Hometalk before! Ellen, that's what we were thinking, regarding the vaulted ceiling. We want to feature it, we just weren't sure how to incorporate our ideas. But I think Becky had it right on the mark with her #2 and #3. JP Designs, I guess it was more my husband regretting it, rather than me regretting it. But, I thought if I went for it, and then he REALLY didn't like it, uh, oh! Kelly, as far as painting the back panels of the bookcases, ironically, I had suggested that to my husband a year ago, and he didn't see the sense, since most of the back is covered by books, and wouldn't be very visible. I know that most people like to have their bookcases "staged" with vases and such, but I want ours to be more usable, in that I actually love to read, and access books from the bookcases on a weekly bases. When I finish one book, I go for the next book. And, I want what is in my house to be useful, not just fluff. Gosh, maybe this is what age does to you, lol!
  • Z Z on Nov 11, 2012
    By what you said about how you want to use this area, I'd recommend, as others are calling it, number two with the straight top shelf. I'm with your hubby on the other looking too busy and since you're decluttering your home you don't need the extra visual clutter. It's not like it would give you any more room for books unless you wanted to climb a ladder out to get to them. We love to read too and recently finished our home library so I can completely understand your wanting books over vases and such on your shelves. I'll be looking forward to seeing the finished project. I do hope you share with us on HT.
  • Anita Roll Murals Anita Roll Murals on Nov 11, 2012
    I think the white brick will look great!
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 12, 2012
    Thanks for the input Anita! Actually Becky, I think your number 2 is the winner, hands down! That design really ties in the whole unit. With this option, both my husband, and I will be happy! He gets to keep his natural brick, and I get some lightening of the area. And I finally get my tv raised, yay! And he's even LIKING the idea, thanks to this look!
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Nov 12, 2012
    I like #3 the best ! Good luck in whichever one you pick.
  • Linda G Linda G on Nov 12, 2012
    i've seen white brick fireplaces and i really like them. i can't see why it would lose value
  • Linda, its not so much that it will loose value, but painting it will make it disappear into the wall with the built in cabinets and from experience many future home buyers want to go back to the natural stone look. We get lots of requests here on how to remove the paint. As once you do this you can never successfully go back again. So the suggestions are coming to provide Sue options just in case. :)
  • Patricia L Patricia L on Nov 12, 2012
    Paint the brick,and do something with the TV wires
  • Z Z on Nov 12, 2012
    @Sue Curwin So happy I was part of helping you and hubby find something you both can love. Kind of like Designing for the Sexes was back in the good old days of HGTV. Too bad you can't CLOSE this thread since so many don't read that you've already made a decision. @Miriam I Is there a way to close a question thread once your problem is solved?
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 12, 2012
    @Connie Nikiforoff Designs If you read the rest of the thread, she's made her decision to redesign the bookcases and paint the wall above.
  • Sara Glenn Sara Glenn on Nov 12, 2012
    Maybe you could lightly brush white highlights on the brick and paint the firescreen rustic brown/gray textured paint. That would draw your eye to the fire and wood and less to the squarish black shapes.
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 12, 2012
    The photo below is the redesign she has chosen....
  • Shelly Bloom Shelly Bloom on Nov 12, 2012
    I had a faux painter re paint a red brick fireplace and made it white. It was great but he also painted the grout, I believe in gray and that would set it off. I was thrilled with the result.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Nov 12, 2012
    Wow! I just came on here and I see suggestions are still coming in! We have had unseasonally warm temperatures here today, and I was getting some extra outdoor work done. Sharron, actually the redesign I chose was the second one, without the extra white up to the ceiling. But thanks for trying to mediate for me, lol!
  • Sharron W Sharron W on Nov 12, 2012
    OH! Sorry Becky and Sue, I thought you'd decided just to paint the wall above the bookcase too...LOL
  • Definitely paint it - had the same situation at a friends house. What a difference a nice glossy coat of paint will do - if you do, post after pics!
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Nov 13, 2012
    Shelly, I like the way your painted fireplace looks :-)
  • Shelly Bloom Shelly Bloom on Nov 14, 2012
    Remember, that was a RED brick fireplace to start. I was very happy with the outcome.
  • Shirley S Shirley S on Dec 30, 2012
    We had an ugly red brick fireplace , which everyone said DO NOT PAINT. It took me 2 months to talk my husband into it. Painted it white and he could not believe the difference it made. Many people have complemented us on it since !! DO it!!
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Dec 31, 2012
    @Sue Curwin, have you started the fireplace redo? Pictures please and thank you. It's your home and one should decorate to please oneself, unless of course you know that you will be moving in less than 3 years.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Dec 31, 2012
    No, Kelly, I haven't started it yet, although my husband has figured out how to do it. However, when we do it, I will definitely put in on here! We have decided to tackle some of the more essential jobs in the house first. And, if you could only SEE the to do list we have for 2013! By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR, whenever it comes to you! It is 5:53 PM here, in New Brunswick, Canada.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jan 01, 2013
    Happy New Year yourself. I think my list is longer than hubby's. I'm working on re-caulking the tub/shower today. Home repair Tutor had an excellent link. Just gotta get off here. this site is more addictive than coffee.
  • Sue Curwin Sue Curwin on Jan 01, 2013
    Actually, I've only had a half a cup of coffee in my life, so I've never come under it's "power", lol!
  • Susan Rawlings Susan Rawlings on Dec 31, 2015
    Have you every considered lightening the brick, maybe with a wash of lighter color, that covers up the grey, but is a more pleasing neutral shade?
  • Deb4148982 Deb4148982 on Apr 05, 2023

    I moved into my 1920s house 40 years ago. The previous owner had covered the brick fireplace in a cranberry zbrick. I quickly painted it white as all the woodwork was white at the time and enjoyed it for 10 years. (I painted it blue/ that phase lasted a year or two...and then I went back to white.) I stripped all the woodwork in the house 30 years ago and repainted the fireplace a sage green. It worked. A few months ago I finally finish the project as I always dreamed it should look. The zbrick would have been too difficult to remove so my partner built an oak surround to coordinate with the two wood/glass bookcases on each side of the fireplace . (He is quite the woodworker/craftsman. I can design it, he builds it, I refinish it.) We tiled over the zbrick in the area the wood surround would not cover and then placed our custom made front over the tile. Projects always bring on other projects... I ripped up the wall to wall carpet in the living room and refinished the maple wood floors. My partner built Craftsman frames for over the three mantels and I had Hobby Lobby matt the watercolor paintings I had in storage for years (they were done by my aunt when she retired. I had always wanted to display them!) Keep in mind that once you paint something, unless you're capable of stripping the surface, you are committed to paint. Have you considered painting your bookcases on either side the color of the fireplace? That would be reversible.