How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

A brick fireplace with a coating of white paint and trim.
What You'll Need
Drop cloths or heavy plastic
Hard bristled scrub brush
Liquid soap
Wire brush
Masonry primer
Small paint roller
Small paintbrush
Latex paint

Level of Difficulty – Intermediate

Time – Eight hours

Brick indoors is hard to get clean, so over time, ash and debris buildup around your fireplace can make it look dingy and unkempt. But, in just a few simple steps, you can breathe new life into this fixture. Brighten up your home and make it that much easier to clean your fireplace by adding a coat of paint.

Tip: Pick a color that will accent the room. A rich, dark brown will create an instant focal point while a warm cream will lighten a dark room.

Step 1 - Prep Your Area and Your Bricks

Before proceeding to paint your brick fireplace, you need to protect the surrounding area. Lay down a drop cloth or heavy plastic to protect the floor from water and paint spatters and drips.

You also need to prepare the brick surface for the paint to take. Start with a thick sheet of sandpaper to loosen any caked-on grime or loose mortar. Next, use a hard-bristled scrub brush and a homemade cleaning solution of liquid soap and warm water to give the bricks a thorough cleaning. Should you come across any exceptionally stubborn dirt or soot deposits, you may need to use a wire brush. Lastly, seal off any bricked areas you don't wish to paint with thick tape.

Step 2 - Apply Primer

Allow the bricks and mortar to dry thoroughly from their cleaning, and then, with the necessary preparations made, it'll be time to apply your masonry primer. Use a small paint roller to cover the surface of the bricks in smooth, even strokes. Follow with a small paint brush to work the primer into the grout a thoroughly as possible. Be patient. This is an important step and it can take a while to work the primer into all the grooves.

Tip: Tint the masonry primer to the final top coat color to get better coverage over the primer.

Step 3 - Add the Top Coat

Having given your primer ample time to dry, you're ready to apply your latex paint. Perform this step in the exact same fashion as your primer application, using your roller for the bricks and your brush for the grout.

Clean up the area and tn about a day’s work—and with just a bit of elbow grease and some paint—you will have changed the look of your living room. And, as an added bonus, cleaning your bricks of dirt and grime will now take no more than a couple of passes with a wet cloth.

Pam Estabrooke, district manager of ProTect Painters, contributed to this article.