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Can You Paint A Fireplace? Here's What You Can Do

Painting a fireplace can transform a room from ordinary and dated to fresh, modern, and, dare we say? Gorgeous. For a homeowner with fair DIY skills, it's a fairly straightforward, achievable project, but it does require some care and diligence with details. So here they are.

Choosing the Look 

Before you go out and buy paint for your fireplace redo, think about the look you want to achieve. Are you intrigued by that whitewashed look you've seen on fireplace redo websites? Or are you thinking about going darker to cover up soot and cracks? Or should you just paint over that old red brick or the passé tile, or just let it go and wait for the painted fireplace trend to pass? (Hint: It's probably not going to pass anytime soon.) What kind of surface are you covering up? Brick, tile, marble, metal, or granite?

Two Kinds of Paint for Fireplaces 

Fireplace paint is different from the paint you put on walls, and there are two types. The interior of the fireplace, called a firebox, must be painted with a high temperature-tolerant paint formulated for metal surfaces that may reach 500 degrees or more. Any paint not formulated for this use will chip and peel.

Use heat-resistant (up to 200 degrees F) latex for the outer part of the fireplace.

Assemble Your Supplies

Choose your paint according to the look and style you want. Then assemble these materials:

  • Wire scrub brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint roller for textured surfaces
  • Small paintbrush
  • Non-sudsy trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP
  • Fireplace cleaner
  • Painters' tape
  • Oil-based primer
  • Indoor latex paint

Painting

After you have your supplies, cover the floor with a drop cloth. Tape off areas you want to protect. Use a wire scrub brush to clean up the brick, then vacuum the debris. Then, wearing gloves and safety goggles, clean the fireplace with trisodium phosphate. You can also try soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and dry surfaces.

If you're cleaning a metal fireplace, scrub it with a coarse brush and degreaser, then rinse the fireplace with wet rags. For granite, clean it with soapy water.

After cleaning, you're ready for primer. Oil-based primer will block stains and protect the paint. Work the primer inside crevices with a stiff brush. Apply the primer evenly with a roller. You may need two coats. Let it dry overnight.

Use a roller to apply the paint evenly. Then take a small paintbrush to any missed spots.

Random Notes

You can paint brick or stain it in flat, semi-gloss, or gloss, and it can go over textured surfaces such as stone, brick, and wood quite successfully. Limestone, sandstone, and river rock are harder to paint over. Use interior latex masonry paint for bricks and stone. Masonry paint works well on porous and textured surfaces. Cover granite with adhesion primer, allowing it to dry overnight. You could then paint it with textured paint (acrylic paint with sand in it) for a different look. For metal, apply a light coat of galvanized metal-etching primer before painting.

As mentioned, the key to successfully painting your fireplace is extremely heat-resistant paint. Also, apply as many as three layers if needed, allowing the layers to dry before you apply the next one. After the last coat of paint has dried, touch up any missed areas or flaws.

A painted fireplace is a relatively inexpensive and not-too-difficult way to rejuvenate a room. So get going, and see how you can put your skills to use, transforming your fireplace.

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