If you’ve made your way to this blog post, DIY Painted Brick Fireplace Before and After (with new DIY Mantel) I bet you have gone back and forth a number of times about painting your brick fireplace, am I right? This is not a decision most take lightly – I mean c’mon it’s brick – and let’s be honest, there is no going back. No doubt about it, it’s a bold decision and if you’re like us, I wanted to paint it and my husband was a bit hesitant so perhaps you are experiencing that hold-up as well!

The Decision to Paint our Brick Fireplace

After swooning over some dreamy white painted brick fireplaces on Instagram, I made my way to Pinterest to research white-painted fireplaces to decide the look and finish I wanted. I then shared my research with my husband (to make my case – I do this often!) Not sure if he actually agreed or if I wore him down, but a deal was made and plans for this DIY painted fireplace were underway.

photo of finished white painted fireplace.

About Our Original Brick Fireplace

Our house was built during the 1980s with standard stock everything, I mean everything and the red brick fireplace was a lot like the rest of our house – a bit lackluster. The fireplace sits on the outside wall of our family room and is very much the focal point of the space. The hearth is high leading the mantel to sit unusually high at eye level. This was done to scale the fireplace to our tall cathedral ceiling. The bricks on the fireplace surround were nothing special and the overall design was relatively simple. I have always loved the arched fireplace opening but otherwise, the brick was dark and dated and the mantel lacked interest. All was in great shape just unimaginative and uninspiring. Can you tell I didn’t like it?

Expanding our Existing Mantel

Once my husband was onboard with painting the brick and looking more closely at our existing fireplace he suggested we also upgrade the mantel by removing the existing mantel and building a new, more substantial mantel. We headed to Lowes to plan this part of the project and played around with different molding and decorative boards. We decided to build a box (or in building terms a soffit and fascia) using primed 1″ x10″ pine. For the flat part of the mantel we used a primed 1′ x12′ pine and then to connect the two and to add some detail we used 3.5 crown molding.

We ultimately settled on using primed 1″ x10″ pine for the box. This piece of the mantel extends 9″ from the wall and covers some of the brick and is 63″ long. For the flat part of the mantel, we went with a primed 1′ x12′ pine and had it extend 3/4 of an inch all around. This piece measures 69″ long. Then to connect the two and to add some detail we used 3.5″ crown molding attaching it at a slant. In the photo below you can see we removed the old decorative molding but left the mantel boards and built around them.

a side view of the mantel being built showing the box, crown molding and flat top.

To finish the nail holes were filled with wood putty, sanded, and then painted with Benjamin Moore- Chantilly Lace. You can see in the photo below the impact of the changes made to the mantel by expanding it. It went from lackluster to stunning with a much-needed updated look.

Preparing to Paint the Brick

With the mantel done we then moved to prepare the brick fireplace surround. Luckily it was in great shape as brick surfaces go and no repair was needed, just clean up. The first thing we did was use a wire brush and vacuum to remove soot, cobwebs, and any loose debris in order to have a clean surface to paint on.

We put down a drop cloth to protect the floor and we decided to use painter’s tape inside of the firebox to delineate what was being painted and what was being left. We chose not to paint the firebox itself and leave it, charred brick and all. I felt the darkness in the firebox would be striking against the newly painted brick and add some contrast and character.

Painting the brick with a 4" flat paint brush.

Supplies for this Painting Project

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Painting the Brick

Once everything was prepared we took a very simple 4″ flat paint brush and began painting the brick and mortar. We found that using a brush was easier than a paint roller so we could get into the textured rough surfaces of the natural brick. I had envisioned a german schmere/white-washed look and so I wanted our first coat to be light allowing the brick to show through. Actual German schmeer requires a mortar wash and is a thick medium that is strategically placed on the brick to allow exposed areas. Think of thickly covered areas of white mortar with a very thin layer showing the red brick. I wanted something a bit more uniform so we decided to paint using a basic interior latex paint from Benjamin Moore and went with the same color in a semi-gloss finish as the woodwork in our living room where this fireplace is. We did a light coat then wiped the bricks with a damp rag resulting in a white-washed appearance. Here’s where we were after the first coat.

a view of the painted fireplace after the first coat. It's a bit patchy and muddy looking.

We left the one coat on for a few days before I decided I wanted fuller coverage of paint. The washed look showed too much brick for my liking and gave off a strange “muddy” look that I wasn’t happy with. It was also a bit too busy so we decided to go in with a second coat for a more full-coverage uniform finish. Below you can see the difference between one coat and two coats.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I decide which paint finish is right for my brick fireplace?

Such a personal decision! I do love the look of German Scmeer and just about anything that is white washed which is why I went that route first. After a few days, I knew ours needed more coats of paint to have a consistent clean look. You may want to start by not less paint and then reevaluating. You can always add more as we did.

Can I use Chalk Paint for this fireplace DIY project?

You can use Chalk paint on the outside of your brick fireplace. Chalk paint is not heat resistant so I would not recommend using it in the firebox. Chalk paint is matte paint and can be subject to heavy absorption. You may need more paint than regular latex paint for this reason.

Can I paint inside the firebox?

while you may be tempted to paint the entire brick surface keep in mind that not all paint is rated for high temperatures. If you want to paint the firebox that you use, it’s a good idea to use heat resistant paint.

Can I use a paint sprayer for painting our brick fireplace makeover?

With some extra preparation, you can use a paint sprayer for painting a brick fireplace. You will want to include plastic sheeting to keep the spray from getting on the walls and floor. You also may want to paint the edges using a small paint brush first then go in with the paint sprayer.

I love a white brick fireplace but what other color choices should I consider?

As you know, when it comes to paint color the sky is the limit. Choose a color that works for your space. Gray is a popular color for fireplaces or you could go with a darker color like black or navy.

How much paint will I need for my entire fireplace?

For an average size fireplace, a quart of paint should be enough. For several coats, you may need a gallon. Another option is to use a quart of primer and then a quart of paint instead of two coats of paint.

How long will it take to paint my brick fireplace?

This depends on how many coats of paint you decide to use. Brick is a porous surface so the paint will dry quickly. Plan a minimum of 30 minutes between coats. Let the paint dry for 24 – 48 hours before using the fireplace.

The completed mantel and painted fireplace with a shiplap overmantel. All is white.

The difficult part of painting your brick fireplace is deciding to do it! Once the decision has been made and the process starts it’s really a very simple DIY project. I have yet to meet someone who regretted this decision and most, like me wished they had painted their brick fireplace years ago. A simple fresh coat of white paint on a dark and dingy old brick fireplace can give a room a whole new look! Not to mention it will feel like you have a brand new fireplace!

white painted fireplace with my diy fireplace screen and some decorative items on the hearth and next to the fireplace.

After the mantel and brick paint job was done we then moved on to the overmantel where we built a shiplap panel. Then I made a simple fireplace cover using peel-and-stick wallpaper to finish this fireplace makeover.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, DIY Painted Brick Fireplace Before and After (with new DIY Mantel), and found it to be helpful. I also (secretly) hope I talked you into pulling the trigger on your brick fireplace makeover!

Keep creating friends!

my signature, a drawing of me holding a coffee cup that says Create.

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