How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick

I have fireplace goals, specifically, no more boring orange fireplace brick. And, after our recent fireplace mantel and overmantel makeover, the brick color stood out like a sore thumb. The plan is to paint the brick matte black. After all, I am nothing, if not dramatic. However, I was concerned about the process being messy and ultimately chipping and peeling. Well, I am happy to report that I was so wrong. Check out how to prep and paint your fireplace brick in a few easy steps. Seriously!

Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of brick and what brick we do have, is in good condition. Here’s what our brick looked like before. It’s ok, but it could be better, loads better.

How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick - fireplace with doors
Before: The orange brick clashes with the new fireplace mantel (and black goes with everything).

Step 1: Prep the Fireplace area

I started by removing the fireplace doors, screens, tools, and decor from the area. Be sure to protect the surrounding area (including carpet, tile, or wood floor) with a plastic drop cloth. I skipped this step because I plan to tile the hearth in the not too distant future.

fireplace with out doors
The fireplace without the door; it’s looking better already.

Step 2: Assess the Fireplace Brick

Inspect the brick for cracks, gaps, or missing mortar. Fill any gaps with acrylic caulk and let it cure before proceeding to the next step!

Using a Shop-Vac, vacuum the ash, grit, and any spider webs from the brick and surrounding area. You don’t want this in your hair or the paint.

Step 3: Brush it off!

How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick - dirty fireplace brick close-up
The brick behind the fireplace doors was grimy and covered in soot.

I used a wire brush and some serious elbow grease to remove the ash, soot, and grime. Of course, protective eyewear and a mask are a must to keep grit out of the eyes and lungs. I also wore gloves to protect my hands from the wire brush. I followed up by vacuuming again as brushing the bricks leaves behind a substantial amount of powdery grit. For real, everywhere!

wire brush
How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick - using wire brush to clean brick of soot and grime
Brushing the bricks with a wire brush.

Step 4: Clean that Brick!

I cleaned the brick with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar with a few drops of dish soap added. I followed up with a rinse of clean water using a clean sponge. Let the area dry for 24 hours!!! Brick is porous and needs time to dry, so there’s no fudging this step.

brick cleaning supplies - white vinegar, water, dish soap, sponge, bucket and wire brush
The superstar cleaning products.
How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick - cleaning brick with a sponge

According to Bob Vila, scrub the brick with a brush to remove dirt or efflorescence—white, powdery, mineral deposits. Then proceed to remove any visible mildew with a solution of one part bleach to three parts water. Sponge the diluted bleach over your brick, let it soak in for half an hour, and scrub the surface with a wire brush.

How To: Paint a brick fireplace by Manasa Reddigari and Bob Vila

Step 5: Paint Your Brick

Vacuum again. I know I sound like a broken record or a vacuuming fanatic, but I have a dog that loves to sleep on the cold hearth tile, and the brick ravaged my sponge during the cleaning process leaving spongy bits everywhere. Therefore, I vacuumed again to be sure the bricks were clean and ready to receive paint. Better safe than sorry.

Shop-Vac

I masked the fireplace mantel with painter’s tape and got to work painting the brick. I chose Behr Masonry, Stucco & Brick paint. It’s self-priming (so I could skip the priming step) and has a 20-year guarantee. Bonus!

How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick-Behr Masonry, Stucco and Brick paint

I started by painting the mortar using the Wooster Shortcut angled brush (this is my favorite paintbrush). I had planned to use a ½” roller cover on the brick but soon realized that I could do it all with the paintbrush since it’s such a small area. So I continued with the paintbrush.

If you plan to paint a larger brick area, I would highly recommend using a roller. The Whizz Concrete, Block, and Brick 9″ x 1″ Woven Polyamide Paint Roller Cover. It will splatter less and resists shedding.

paint supplies, brush, roller, paint tray, paint

I painted the brick in small sections; starting with the mortar, followed by pouncing and pushing the paintbrush bristles into the brick pores. The process went quickly, taking less than 45 minutes. I used a small work light (but a flashlight will also work) to ensure that I filled the brick pores with paint and let it dry for 24 hours before giving it a final coat.

How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick - wet paint
Caution: WET PAINT (first coat)!

Behold the painted brick!

What a huge difference! Plus, I can’t believe how easy it was to prep and paint the fireplace brick. And, the matte finish is perfect for this light-filled room. The entire project took three days and less than 3 hours of hands-on time. Of course, your results may vary depending on the amount of brick to be painted.

Since I had all the supplies on hand, my only expense was paint, which cost less than $23! However, there is one downside; the smallest available size of brick paint is the one-gallon can. And I used less than 1/10th of it. Maybe I should look for more brick to paint?!?

Final coat of brick paint
How to Prep and Paint your Fireplace Brick-final coat of paint. Amazing!
close-up brick paint

Supplies:

Have you painted your fireplace brick? How did it go? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line in the comments sections below.

Coming soon! How to tile your fireplace hearth.


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