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Using Chalk Paint to Update a Brick Fireplace

Giving a red brick fireplace a dramatic, yet simple, makeover

Painted brick fireplace, quick and easy |

Hello there friends and welcome back!

Mr DIY and I spent the weekend in San Antonio and Fredricksburg, TX. It was a belated anniversary trip and we had such a fun time!

We ate and walked and spent time poking around antique stores...and bought a grandfather clock, and drove and admired the beautiful hill country! Yes, I'll be sharing all about that clock in a post soon!

But today is special!

I finally did something to my ugly 80's brick fireplace and I am loving the results!

You might remember this picture from when I shared my fall home tour a couple weeks ago. I really tried to make this fireplace look appealing...but the fact is that it was dirty, outdated and did nothing to enhance our home!

dirty and dated 80's brick fireplace |

The rest of this room looks so good! We've already painted the wood paneling, had the large built-in bookcases painted, and started working on the sunroom just behind this room (they share a fireplace).

In fact, I'm basically done the sunroom; I'm just waiting for a couple items to arrive in my mailbox...then I can share the reveal with you! We are loving our reclaimed wood walls and the bright airy feel!

Back to the fireplace...sorry, my mind is wanting to wander today 😉

I was all gung-ho to paint the fireplace once the room was freshly painted, but the rest of the family said an emphatic no.

They liked the brick. They liked the red. They wanted it to stay. They were opposed to a white fireplace.

Over the last several months, I've been sharing pictures of painted fireplaces with them and I could tell they were coming around. They mistakenly thought I wanted to paint the fireplace totally white, but when I shared my inspiration pictures, they liked the fact that a lot of the brick was still showing.

Fast forward to this morning. I decided to have a go at cleaning the soot from around the opening of the fireplace. I used cream of tartar mixed with water. Let it sit. Wiped it off.

Honestly, I didn't see much of a difference. It still looked dirty.

So I thought I'd just see (famous last words, right?) what it looked like if I painted the grout lines on one side.

Well, enough said. You can see that I progressed to finishing the entire thing! And I love it!!

There are a lot of tutorials available on painting and whitewashing fireplaces. I read them, but then decided to do my own thing.

I want to share my process with you because it might be just what your fireplace needs!

Before we jump in, I want to explain the difference in paint applications for a brick fireplace:

Painted - a heavy coat of paint (possibly multiple coats) is applied to completely cover the existing brick and grout lines. A red fireplace becomes a different solid color.

Whitewash - typically this involves diluting paint with water, and proceeding to brush it on and rub it off, giving more of a muted look.

Dry brush - a mostly dry brush is used to apply paint to select areas on the brick.

There's also German Schmear, made popular by Chip and Joanna Gaines, where mortar is applied to the brick and then rubbed off in select areas.

I opted against the whitewash because I found the results looked too pinkish. White + red = pink, and I found the diluted method just didn't work for me. I didn't want any hint of pink, I wanted white!

I also wanted simple and quick, which is why I didn't go for the German Schmear.

I chose to do a dry brush/wet brush technique which I'm sharing today.

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Like I mentioned above, this project started off as a cleaning experiment!

Before you paint your fireplace, please do the prep work to insure the best results!

I vacuumed the fireplace well. I also removed all the melted wax that has been sitting on the hearth for who knows how long. To do this, I used a heat gun and a piece of newsprint. I melted the wax with the heating tool and then laid the newsprint over the puddle to absorb the wax. I continued until the melted pool of wax no longer gleamed.

I also cleaned my fireplace to the best of my ability. You can Google various ways to do this using vinegar, TSP, etc.


Now that my fireplace was relatively clean, I was ready to paint.

I taped off the carpet around the hearth and poured a small amount of white chalk paint into a SOLO cup.

Using my small brush, I proceeded to paint the grout lines. I found that if I attempted this with my large brush, I got too much paint on the bricks.

Painting fireplace with white chalk paint |

My method is simple. After painting the grout lines in a small section, I dipped just the tips of my regular Purdy brush in the paint. I concentrated the heavier paint on the outer edges of the brick. Once my brush was mostly dry, I went back over the centers of the bricks to give them lighter coverage.

So I started with a wet brush for the edges of the bricks, which needed the most coverage. Then I finished off the insides of the bricks with the dry brush, blending the wet paint well. The dirty looking bricks got a bit heavier coverage!

Solo cup filled with paint |

You can see that I started at the bottom and worked my way up my fireplace.

And while I was at it, I painted my mantel! That board was the last bastion of glossy fake oak in our home...and I was not sad to see it go! Eventually I would like to replace it with a larger, chunkier mantel but for now, I'm happy with it!

Painting progress |

It took a couple of hours to paint the fireplace.

I really love how much of the red still shows through, but the whole effect is fresher and clean-looking!

If you find that you've applied too much paint, you can easily sand it off. So start light and then add more paint if you need. I found as the paint dried it lightened significantly, so I ended up applying it with a bit of a heavier hand.

Painted brick fireplace and mantel |

The paint dried really quickly, and in no time at all I was able to style my newly painted brick fireplace!

Painting a fireplace to brighten up a room |

What a difference a couple hours of painting makes. I am always amazed!

White chalk paint covers red brick fireplace |

It's beautiful from every angle!

close up of painted fireplace |

The fireplace still has texture, but painting it makes it feel more modern. It fits in with the rest of the room and now the overall feeling in the room is so much lighter and brighter! I love how the black screen pops now!

The fireplace (in my opinion) was an eyesore and detracted from all the other lovely things happening in the room. It all works together now!

Living room with painted fireplace | diy beautify blog

The difference is dramatic and remarkable and I didn't even have to buy any supplies! I used up my leftover white chalk paint (Rustoleum Chalked in Linen).

Please PIN THIS IMAGE so you have it saved for future reference!

painted fireplace before and after |

And how has my family reacted to the change? That same family who were so opposed to a painted fireplace?

They love it!

bringing beauty to the ordinary,

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  1. Gorgeous. It looks so much lighter and airier. Plus, the Blessed sign really stands out now.

    1. Thank you so much Debra! I agree with everything you said!

  2. Cindy that is one gorgeous fireplace brimming with character. Sometimes they need to trust your instinct when it comes to these things.

  3. What a great transformation! I have been wondering if I could do this with a faux brick wall in our house.


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