Don’t you love when projects are so easy and simple?! That was what happend when I was painting a brick fireplace white! It was the easiest project that was low in cost and super quick!
The Saddest Looking Fireplace
When we moved into this house one of the highlighted features was a red/orange brick corner fireplace. It was a bit of a weird shape (the mantle gets wider!), the bricks were ugly and bright! The other issue was it was blocked off and not working. Essentially it was an ugly but had potential! Where it was non-functioning meant I also didnt have to worry about paint that would be safe to use around high heat. This gave me some more flexbility.
It only took a few weeks and I attempted my first DIY in this house; white washing the red/orange brick! The process was a bit messy, first I would water the paint down and then wipe off the excess. The paint wouldn’t stick to some of the bricks because they were polished. I made a bit of a chalk paint receipt that was watered down to help stick. The result was a less bright version of the brick but it felt off. The water down paint was patchy and the hue was strange. The warm red brick was trying to peak out from under the cool toned paint. That was how it stayed for almost 5 years!
What I Wanted Wasn’t Going To Work
The ideal fireplace finish was german schmear, I adore the look of german schmear, but there was a big problem. These bricks were smaller, smoother and polished. There was none of that texture in the brick or mortar for the german schmear techinque to cling to and I knew from a try that it would be a failure. I tried to do the techinque on the side of the fireplace and it did not look good at all. Older bricks with lots of crevices and tecture would have been ideal. These 1910’s stylish bricks were not emant to ever be schmeared.
In the spring I thought about trying some different paint colours and did a couple of bricks in a creamy white but after staring at it a few weeks I relaized I didn’t like the cream colour at all. It blended too much with the Swiss Coffee wall colour. Fireplace are meant to be decorated! A dark colour would not have worked either because the piano is next to the fireplace and dark. The wood trim is darker. A black fireplace would have felt too dark and heavy.
Seeing Other White Painted Fireplaces Helped Make the Decision
White was the last resort. I wasnt keen on the idea but felt if I could see it maybe it would grow on me? The best method to see if you really love a project idea, colour or technique is to create a visual board. I did this through Pinterest as well through Instagram. Looking at all the other white painted fireplaces helped me solidify that my decsion to paint was the right one! I also realized that eventually I would want to build a wood mantle but that will be another project for another day! Being a photographer I also knew that light bounces around rooms. With the Swiss Coffee creamy walls, the dark wood piano, that white wouldnt look stark but have some warmer hues.
The first thing I did was vacuum the entire fireplace to make sure all of the dust and dirt was off. Next I used the extra wide painters tape (my favorite is Beauti-Tone! They have a 2″ blue painters tape that is super wide and great for messy painters like me!) to go around the edges and the carpet. Having everything prepped I grabbed a simple brush and began painting. For a paint I decided to go with a nice matte and easy paint, Rustoleum’s Chalk Paint in Linen White. This is the same paint I used on my kitchen chairs.
Switching Tools for Better Final Results
The first issue I saw was the brush marks. This was not what I wanted to see and I quickly switched to a fluffy roller brush. After the first swipe I knew I was using the right tool! The first coat felt a little patchy but it was already looking better than before. In all I did three coats of paint and giving about 20 minutes between coats. It recommends over an hour but let’s be honest, I am impatient and the combination fan and dehudifier made the drying tome to be pretty quick!
One little trick was to make sure when rolling the paint out to cover the entire brick, not to paint half a brick and half of another. It really did show! I also decided to not worry about every little edge and crack. Those I let the paint skim over and some of the darker red to show through.
Loving the Painted White Bricks
Over all I am really please with how it looks! This is really only step one in the process. Next will be to build a mantle and third to hide those ugly wires sticking out of the wall! Orignally there were light fixtures but the wiring was outdated and pulled out and we haven’t quicked decided what will go there. For now they will hide behind some decor. There is a big plan to cover them up but it will have to wait because always I have a few more projects planned.
Painting this firplace was not hard! I am a bit of a messy painter so keeping the mess to a minimum was the only thing I found remotely difficult (and lysol wipes are great for little paint droplets!) This project takes less time and effort than I ever would have expected. the only regret that I could have is not doing it sooner!