When is Painting Your Brick Fireplace Okay?

When is Painting Your Brick Fireplace Okay?

Whether due to exposure to heat or just everyday wear and tear, there will come a time when your fireplace looks as if it could use a new coat of paint. If you’re considering the idea of painting your brick fireplace, it’s important to keep a few simple tips in mind. Here, you will learn the ins and outs of painting your fireplace’s exterior and the firebox itself.

Painting the Exterior of Your Brick Fireplace

Many people paint the exterior portions of brick fireplaces to match their home décor. For the most part, you can paint a brick fireplace using the same primers and interior paints you would use for the walls in your home, but the process is slightly different. Brick is relatively porous and soft, so it’s important to thoroughly clean the fireplace before you start painting. The best way to do this is to start by using sandpaper (something like 120-grit) to loosen and remove mortar or bits of brick. Then, use a stiff paintbrush to brush away any dust left behind by the sandpaper. Finally, using a solution of plain white vinegar and warm water, clean your fireplace with a good, stiff brush and allow it to dry overnight.

After you’ve prepared your fireplace, use a roller to apply the primer of your choice to the outer parts of the fireplace. Allow the primer to dry, then use a roller to apply a high-quality latex paint in your preferred color. No matter which paint or primer you choose, it’s always a good idea to apply a second coat of paint – but be sure that you allow the paint to dry thoroughly between coats.

Painting the Firebox

The firebox is the inner portion of your fireplace, and it’s common for soot and ash buildup to interfere with its eye appeal. Many people want to know if painting a brick fireplace is possible or even plausible – especially if they build fires regularly. Though the paint is not likely to last long and will likely burn off in one or two heating seasons, it is certainly possible to refresh the paint between seasons. For this project, however, you will not use traditional interior latex paint as it has a low burn point and could release toxic fumes when heated. Instead, you will use a high-temp spray paint in the color of your choice.

Much like painting the exterior of your fireplace, start by following the tips for cleaning with sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a vinegar and water solution. After the brick has dried, shake the can of spray paint and apply it in thin layers using a back-and-forth sweeping motion. Allow the paint to dry completely – preferably overnight – then apply a second coat. Be sure that this second coat is also completely dry before using the fireplace, as well. Ideally, you should wait a day or two between painting and using your fireplace.

While you can paint both the exterior of your fireplace and your firebox, it’s important that you use the right types of paint and allow it to dry thoroughly before building a fire. For this reason, many homeowners prefer to tackle this project in late spring or summer when the temperatures are warm and fires are not necessary.