Is your brick fireplace less aesthetically pleasing than it once was? Does it have a build-up of soot, mildew and efflorescence? Does this wood-burning receptacle no longer match the style and decor of your home? It may be time to renew the look of your brick feature. With a little prep work, a few tools and the right paint, you can make your fireplace the crown of your home. Following are the steps to take when repainting your fireplace. 


The equipment/tools you’ll need:

  • Wire scrub brush/stiff bristled brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint roller for textured surfaces (1 ¼” to 1 ½” thick-nap)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Mild liquid dish soap
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Bleach
  • Acrylic caulk
  • Painter’s tape
  • Telescopic roller extension pole
  • Masonry primer
  • Acrylic latex paint


The steps of the process:

  • Clean the surface: To ensure your paint adheres and there’s no residue to affect your paint colour, begin by cleaning the surface of the fireplace. Use a wire scrub brush or a stiff-bristled brush to remove dirt and dust. Pay special attention to the mortar lines between the bricks, removing any loose debris. Vacuum thoroughly. Then use your brush, warm water and mild liquid dish soap to scrub the surface. Use TSP on any areas that still do not appear completely clean. Make sure you use goggles and gloves when applying this solution. If there is any mildew present, clean these areas with a solution of one part bleach to three parts water. Rinse thoroughly and let dry for at least 24 hours. 
  • Repair: Inspect the fireplace for cracks in the bricks. Use acrylic caulk, found in most home improvement stores, to fill these areas. For large cracks, you may require professional help. Check the caulk instructions for the required dry time.
  • Tape: Use painter’s tape to cover all areas around the fireplace that you don’t want to paint, (where the brick meets the floor/walls). Protect the floor and the fireplace hearth from splatter with drop cloths.
  • Apply primer: A primer made for brick and/or masonry is your best choice. It’s thinner and penetrates into the brick’s porous surface, binding any chalky or loose material. It’s also alkaline resistant, keeping the top coat from getting alkali burn. Choose a water-based primer if you’re planning to use latex paint. Opt for an oil-based primer for oil paints. Use a small paint brush to apply the primer inside the crevices along the mortar lines. Use a roller (1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch nap) to apply the primer evenly across the rest of the surface. The porous nature of brick means that you may require a second coat of primer. 
  • Paint the brick: Choose an indoor, latex, heat-resistant paint in either flat, semigloss, matte or eggshell. Paint all mortar lines with a small brush first. Then cover the rest of the surface using a paint roller (1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch nap). Use an extension pole to reach the higher areas. Apply a second coat if necessary. Let dry. 
  • Add finishing touches: Use your small paintbrush to touch up any blemishes or missed spots. Remove the painter’s tape and the drop cloth. Use a damp cloth to wipe up any splatters.


What colour should I paint my fireplace?

Bold and contrasting colours make your brick feature a focal point while neutral colours (white, gray) merge it with its surroundings. Consider pulling a colour from existing accents in the room, choosing a shade slightly darker. Lower sheens (matte, eggshell) keep the natural texture of the brick with fewer visible imperfections. A higher sheen (semi-gloss) reflects more light and makes future cleaning easier. A black mantel frames the fireplace and anchors the room, providing stability. A white mantel has a timeless appeal, giving you the flexibility to change small accents throughout the year.

If you find your brick fireplace less than appealing and replacement cost-prohibitive, consider adding a coat of paint. Make sure you clean the brick thoroughly, prime and paint using a masonry primer and indoor, latex, heat-resistant paint. Sound like too much work and trouble? A professional residential painter can have the job done quickly, leaving you to enjoy shining results. 

Need help transforming your fireplace with paint? Want help with colour choices? Call the Calgary residential painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 917-0579. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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