Should I Paint My Brick Fireplace?

  • Living Room Fireplace and Bookcase
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Mary in Illinois is on the line with a painting fireplace question. How can we help you today?

    MARY: I want to paint a fireplace. It’s brick and just want to know if there’s – if you can do that, first of all, and if there’s a certain kind of paint you need to use.

    LESLIE: Has it been painted before or is it natural brick?

    MARY: No, it’s natural brick – original brick.

    TOM: Well, you certainly can paint it but I would think very carefully before you do this. Because once you paint, you have to strip the fireplace eventually to repaint it or restore its original look. And they tend to get very dirty and very smoky and it’s hard to clean fireplace brick. If it’s just the color that you don’t like, there may be some ways to sort of decorate around that color. But I would really hesitate to tell you to paint it.

    We get a lot of calls from folks that are not happy with painted fireplaces and they want to know how to do the exact opposite, which is get the paint off. And once you paint it, it’s just really hard to do that.

    MARY: OK. I was kind of worried about whether it would peel or – when you say you just have to keep repainting because of …

    LESLIE: Well, paint, over time, is going to crack and dry out. And it will get so dirty just from the exhaust and the use of the fireplace that you’ll get sort of that haze around the upper portion of it, regardless of what type of screen you have.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that since this will be its first time being painted, the brick is so porous that you’re going to put a lot of time into priming, because it’s just going to absorb all of that primer. And you want to get a good quality primer, you want to make sure that you brush in the grout lines, roll on the surfaces of the brick, brush again. So it’s a lot of steps. It can be done.

    But as Tom said, you have to remove paint from brick with a chemical stripper. And because that brick is so porous, it’s going to have sucked in all of that color and so it’ll never get back to that original brick look again. It’ll have that sort of hue of whatever color it was.

    MARY: Mm-hmm. OK, OK. Great. Well, thank you for your help. I appreciate it.

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