How to Update a Brick Fireplace with Chalk Paint

I'm sharing an easy way to lighten and brighten a dark and drab fireplace using chalk paint! My technique for a chalk painted fireplace is simple, fast and mess-free! You can have a brand new fireplace in just a couple of hours!
chalk painted fireplace
Updated 10/22

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Hello there friends, old and new! I'm so happy you're here today 😃
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 Mr DIY convinced me to buy a grandfather clock for an amazing price...and drove the hills and admired the beautiful hill country!

Update: Click here to see how I gave a $25 grandfather clock an amazing makeover with chalk paint!

But I digress...
Today is special because...
I finally did something to our ugly 80's brick fireplace and I am loving the results and can't wait to share them with you! 

I chalk painted my fireplace for a brand new, updated look!

But first, you need to see how bad it looked! Click here to see all the ugly before pictures of this enormous fireplace! I really tried to make our double-sided fireplace look appealing...but the fact is that it was dirty, outdated and did nothing to enhance our cute home!

Quick Solution for a Dark and Dingy Fireplace

The rest of our living room looks so good! We've made a lot of changes and have already painted the wood paneling, had the large built-in bookcases painted, and then I had to repaint the surfaces because I made a huge mistake in choosing paint! If you're wondering what paint is the best for cabinets and bookcases, make sure to read this post! 
We also started working on the sunroom just behind this room (they share this fireplace).

You can see our sunroom makeover here. We are loving our reclaimed wood walls and the bright airy feel! And since this post, we've ripped out the carpet and added beautiful farmhouse wood floors! We are truly enjoying all the beauty these beautiful and affordable floors add to our little Texas farmhouse!

But back to the fireplace.

Should I chalk paint my fireplace?

I was all fired up to paint the fireplace once the room was freshly painted, but the rest of the family said an emphatic no! 
No? I just wanted to be sure I heard them!
They said they liked the brick. They said they liked the red. They wanted it to stay. 
They were adamantly opposed to a white chalk paint 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...and I kind of took that as a green light 😍
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 and 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 painting the entire fireplace, including the mantle! And I love it!!
There are a lot of tutorials available on painting and whitewashing fireplaces. I read them all, but then decided to do my own thing. And I'm excited to share my process with you because it might be just what your fireplace needs!

Different paint applications for a brick fireplace

There are so many ways to paint a fireplace! Here are a few explanations of some of the ways I found.
  • 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 wipe 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.
  • German Schmear, made popular by Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame, 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...although I ended up creating a faux brick wall in our master bedroom and did the German Schmear treatment in there! Click here to see that tutorial!

The method I chose for my chalk painted fireplace was something I came up with on my own: a dry brush/wet brush technique which I'll explain below.

Supplies needed to paint a brick fireplace

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

First things first - clean fireplace

Before you paint your fireplace, please do the prep work to ensure 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.

How to paint a brick fireplace with chalk paint

Now that my fireplace was 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 craft 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.

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 (wet with paint) 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!

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!

It took just a couple of hours to finish painting the fireplace and mantle! Two hours to a whole new look...I love that!
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. But, as with anything, it's always better to 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.

The paint dried really quickly, and in no time at all I was able to style my newly painted brick fireplace! 
Here are a few different views of it during the last 3 years since I painted it.

What a difference a couple hours of painting makes. I am always amazed at the power of paint to completely transform!
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!
The difference is dramatic and I didn't even have to buy any supplies! I used up my leftover white chalk paint ( Rustoleum Chalked in Linen).

FAQs about chalk painting a fireplace

Do you need to seal the paint?
This is a great question. I did not see any need to seal the chalk paint. If you wanted to you could apply a water-based sealer but I don't think it's necessary.
How has it held up?
In one word - beautifully! We burn fires in the winter and the fireplace still looks great! If I notice that soot starts to build up on the outside again, I'll clean it and simply add another light coat of chalk paint over it.
Is chalk paint heat resistant?
Chalk paint is not heat resistant, but in this case, it doesn't need to be! The heat stays inside the fireplace so it doesn't affect the chalk paint whatsoever.
Can you paint a stone fireplace in the same way?
Yes, you absolutely can! In fact, I had a reader reach out with questions and I walked her through the process. Check out the before and after pictures of Patti's stone fireplace below!

PIN IT to remember it!

And I'll bet you're wondering how has my family reacted to the change? 
That same family who were so opposed to a painted fireplace?
They love it! Just like I knew they would 😍

Reader Features!

Viewers love this method of painting a fireplace and I've heard from several that this was the best solution for their dingy fireplaces! Here are some reader's painted fireplaces that they achieved following my easy technique.
Hayley said "It was thanks to this post that we were able to achieve exactly what we wanted." Hayley's dramatic painted fireplace looks so good!

Angel's fireplace is just as dramatic!

This technique is just as beautiful over stone! Just take a look at Patti's stone fireplace before and after painting with chalk paint! What a difference a little white chalk paint makes!

If you use this method to paint your fireplace, send me pictures and I may feature you here!

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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.

    1. Thank you Eilis, you could try a small patch at the bottom and see how it looks!

  4. Just gorgeous ! Just what my family wants to do with our fireplace. We have been searching for the right idea's and techniques. Thank you. Love site too !

    1. Thanks so much Wendy, I love hearing that my tutorials are helpful to others! I wish you luck with your fireplace transformation...would love to see a pic when it's done ;)

  5. Love this idea! I too was thinking about the German smear method, but that seems like a lot of messy work, and if I ever decide to paint it in the future, I might lose the brick texture. This is a perfect alternative, and provides essentially the same "look." Question though: Did you seal either the brick or wood mantle afterward?

    1. Thanks Lisa! I did not seal either. We don't use the fireplace that often and I figure if it gets dirty, it will be easy to add a coat of paint! You may want to explore options if you burn a lot of fires!

  6. There are a lot of tutorials available on painting and whitewashing fireplaces over the internet. I read them, but then decided to do my own thing. And your blog post helped me a lot to sort things out. Now, my fireplace orientation looks fine.

    Thanks to your comprehensive guide. I will share some pictures with you someday!

  7. Hi, So it has a while since you have done this, are you still pleased? I am ready to do mine, just checking on your continued happiness with the paint you choose, that is what I have at home too.

  8. I'm so excited about my new chaulk paint fireplace. .you're awesome and made it so easy for me to do. I'd love to share my pictures if you're interested .thanks for motivating me.

    1. Yes please send me a picture of your painted fireplace!

  9. This is beautiful! I love the transformation. Thanks for the great ideas!

  10. This is a fantastic look. I have also been looking at white washing and not super happy with the bland overall hue it gives, and I didn’t want to paint it completely white; I too wanted the brick to show through. Thank you so much for this tutorial, it’s exactly what I had in mind, I’ve been looking for a few years now!

  11. Cindy, I cant thank you enough for this very easy to follow directions. I tackled my fireplace with confidence this weekend and it looks beautiful. I wish I could upload a before and after picture to show you. Again thanks your instructions were easy to follow and you supply list with links made my shopping quick and simple. Looking forward to seeing more of you ideas.

    1. I'm so glad you found my tutorial easy to follow! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know!!

  12. It's beautiful. Thank you for sharing your process. Do you know about how much paint you used for this project? I'm trying to decide how much I'll need for mine. I have a lot more brick than you do here but a sample amount would be helpful. Thanks.

  13. Can you tell me more about your double-sided fireplace? Is it completely open on both sides? We also have one but it has old glass doors that we'd like to remove. It looks like it's gas... do you turn it on often?

    1. Hi Amy, it is gas and it's open on both sides. We do have screens that we use when we're burning, but they're not attached. We only use the fireplace a handful of times in the winter because it's so hot here in Texas!

  14. Hi Cindy, I've really enjoyed spending time in your blog tonight. I have a question about painting a fireplace. I want to do basically what you have done, and get that same sort of look. But my fireplace brick is painted dark brown. It's beautiful with the paint and fixtures that were here when we bought the house. But I'm itching for something lighter and brighter, and it gets a little depressing, with a big surround of brick in dark brown. (the fireplace in our living room is black, but that doesn't bother me like the brown.) So could I use this technique on already painted brick? Other options you can tell me about ?
    Thanks so much,

  15. Oh, and I have 4 4 oz. jars of a beautiful, very light sage-ish green. From Martha Stewart I think. I love the color and was wondering if I could work it in.

    1. Hey Molle, you could paint the brick with the green paint first and then do the white wash over the top. You'll probably need to go heavier with the paint to cover the brown, but I'll bet it will lighten up your room tremendously!

  16. I loved this idea so much that I tried it! It does make the room look larger and brighter! Thank you for the idea!

    1. Gotta love paint! I'm glad you are happy with your results! I'd love to see a pic!

  17. I love your technique. It really inspired me. I used white chalk and I love it. Now I want to sell it but need advise on what product to use. Do you or any of the readers have any suggestions?

    1. A matte water based poly should seal it nicely. I'm so glad you had great results with this easy project!

  18. Love it. We did a similar thing, painted the paneling and German smeared the fireplace and we love ours.

  19. Cindy! I'm so glad I found your post! I was going to do the whole German smear on a brick wall we discovered under some drywall. But this is so much easier and cleaner!!

  20. Looks beautiful! How.mich paint did you use?

  21. Thank you for the inspiration! When we moved in our fireplace had a pink hue from whitewash too, I've finally tackled it with the chalk paint & this wet/dry brush technique and it's so much better than I could have hoped! The pictures don't even do it justice for the texture and character it adds to our home!

    1. It's an amazing and easy way to update a dated brick fireplace! So glad you are loving your results!

  22. Can you use other paint instead of chalk paint?


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