Cleaning Fireplace Brick

What You'll Need
liquid dishwashing soap
spray bottle
stiff bristle brush
1oz. liquid dishwashing soap
1oz. table salt
sandpaper- medium grit
drop cloth
masonry primer
latex paint
paint brush (or roller with cover and paint tray)

The unique texture of bricks makes cleaning brick fireplaces a simple but labor intensive process. There are two methods to remove smoke and soot from brick: a wet method and a dry method. The wet method produces the best results, but if your floor or area surrounding the fireplace is not water friendly, the dry method is preferable. With both methods, elbow grease plays an integral role, so don’t be afraid to get in there and burn a few calories. It’s a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous portion of brick before applying cleaners to larger sections to see the effects of each cleaner on your particular brick type.

Wet Brick Clean

Step 1- Prep Work

Clear out debris and ash from the fireplace, and vacuum or dust the brick carefully to remove loose mortar. Place a drop cloth under your work area.

Step 2- Clean

Combine water and a squirt of dishwashing soap in spray bottle and apply liberally to the brick. Scrub with a stiff bristle brush using lots of elbow grease. Sop up excess liquid and dirt with a sponge and rinse with clean water.

Dry Brick Clean

Step 1- Prep Work

Similar to the wet method start by clearing out debris and ash from the fireplace. Then vacuum or dust the brick carefully to remove loose mortar. Place a drop cloth under your work area.

Step 2- Clean

Mix soap and salt together with enough water to make a thick paste. Smear the paste over the brick and wait for 10 minutes. Remove with a stiff bristle brush, and again use lots of elbow grease.

For stains you can’t scrub away, or to revitalize a brick fireplace, painting is an option. The process is simple with the right supplies but be sure it’s what you want, once applied paint is nearly impossible to get off brick.

Painting Brick

Step 1- Prep Work

Prepare the brick by scraping off old paint (if applicable) and lightly sanding the brick. Clean the brick with the aforementioned dry or wet method, and make sure the brick is completely dry before continuing.

Step 2- Priming

Spread the drop cloth under your work area. Use a latex based primer on the bricks- check labels at your local paint store for a product approved for brick and masonry surfaces. For large areas a roller is more time efficient, but for most standard size fireplaces a large paint brush works best to apply primer and paint.

Step 3- Painting and Clean-up

Once the primer is dry apply an acrylic latex paint tinted to your taste. Because of the porous nature of brick and its dark color at least two coats are usually needed. Though the paint will feel dry to the touch with-in a few hours it isn’t completely dry for nearly a week, so wait to decorate your newly pained fireplace.