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How To Renovate A Fireplace

Have you ever wondered what in the world you should do with that dark outdated brick or stone structure in the middle of your living room that just seems to suck the life out of your space. Yep - I’m referring to your old fireplace.

You may think there’s no hope for change or that you have to spend a fortune hiring a contractor to come and rip out the whole thing.

But here’s an idea…

What about remodeling your tired old fireplace with paint?

Paint is pretty inexpensive compared to other remodeling options and you can do the project yourself. With a little time and elbow grease, you could have a new, modern -looking fireplace in just one weekend.

First, you’ll need to give the fireplace a good scrubbing. Like any DIY paint project, you’ll need to make sure the area you’re planning to paint is clean so that dust, dirt, and grime won’t get stuck on your paint brush.

fireplace cleaning supplies

After a thorough cleaning, you’ll be ready to paint.

Two popular painting techniques to consider include whitewashing and painting a solid color over your brick or stone. Both look fresh and new making them timeless solutions for a drab fireplace.

How to Whitewash a Fireplace

Are you looking for a way to spruce up that dark brick or stone fireplace in your living room? Whitewashing may be just the thing to breathe new life into an outdated fireplace with minimal time and expense.

Whitewashing involves coating the brick or stone with a thin layer of light colored paint, typically a shade of white, to tone down dark tones and create a lighter, more modern look.


If you decide you want to give whitewashing a try, here’s what you should do:

First, gather your materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Drop Cloth or Sturdy Plastic to Cover Floor
  • Bucket
  • Large Paintbrush
  • White Latex Paint
  • Water
  • Old Towel
  • Scrub Brush
  • Rubber Gloves
  • TSP
  • Bleach

First, you’ll need to cover the floor area in front of your fireplace with heavy plastic or a dropcloth. The paint can be messy and you’ll need to protect your floor or carpet from any drips or spills.

Next, you’ll need to clean the surface of the fireplace as well as the inside of the firebox where the fire burns.

If there are ashes or soot in your firebox leftover from a previous fire, you’ll need to use a broom and dust pan or shop vac to remove the debris.

After the firebox has been cleaned out, it’s time to scrub off and dirt, dust or grime. You can use soap and water or a stronger solution made up of 6 tablespoons TSP and 1 cup of bleach. Use the scrub brush to scrub the walls and floor of the firebox until it’s clean. Rinse with clean water.

The brick or stone on the front of the fireplace can be cleaned with just soap and water since it’s not as dirty as the inside of the firebox. If there’s heavy dirt and grime around the outside of the firebox opening, you might need to use the stronger cleaning products in that area.

After the firebox and the front of the fireplace is clean, you’re ready to get started painting!

Then, mix the white latex paint using this ratio: 1 part paint / 4 parts water. The mixture will be thin and runny. Using a large brush start painting over all your brick or stone surface, coating the mortar as well.

Then use an old towel to wipe over the surface so the brick or stone is not heavily coated and you can see some of the natural tones peeking through.

Now, stand back and admire your work! Whitewashing has stood the test of time and has proven to be an ideal solution for updating dark, outdated brick or stone.

How to Paint Your Fireplace a Solid Color

If whitewashing isn’t your thing or you’re afraid the “whitewashed” look will go out of style, you might be more interested in painting your fireplace brick or stone one solid color.

stone fireplace

Painting your fireplace surface with a solid color differs from whitewashing in that none of the original tones peek through. The opaque look of solid paint helps your fireplace blend in with your walls to provide a neutral, monochromatic look.

Typically, a lighter paint color in the family of whites, off-whites, or creams make a space look bright and open. Painting your walls and your fireplace with a light paint color looks fresh and modern, creating a beautiful neutral space.

On the other hand, you may choose to use a dark- colored paint to create a deep, rich-looking space that has a hint of drama and a cozy feel. Deep shades such as navy or charcoal fill the space with warmth.

If you decide to keep the walls and fireplace light-colored you can add pops of color with accessories such as pillows, artwork and rugs. Or, you can keep the color palette soft and neutral using accessories in whites, grays and tans that blend in with the walls and fireplace to create a uniquely modern look.

Whether you choose to paint with a light creamy neutral or a dark dramatic shade, painting a solid color on your fireplace gives an instant lift to your room.

If you choose to paint your fireplace a solid color, the process is similar to what you’d do to whitewash your brick or stones except you’ll be using latex paint that’s not watered down.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Drop Cloth
  • Bucket
  • Large Paintbrush
  • Small Paintbrush
  • Painters Tape
  • Latex Paint in the Color of Your Choice
  • Water
  • Scrub Brush
  • Rubber Gloves
  • TSP
  • Bleach
  • Broom or Shop Vac

Lay down a drop cloth in front of your fireplace to protect your flooring or carpet from any paint spills.

Use painter’s tape to tape off the edges around your fireplace to keep paint from getting on the surrounding wall areas.

Next, you’ll need to be sure the firebox and the surface of the fireplace is clean.

Cleaning the surface of your fireplace as well as cleaning the firebox is essential before starting the painting process. You can use a stronger solution of 6 tablespoons TSP and 1 cup of bleach to remove stubborn stains or just soap and water if the area isn’t too dirty.

Use a broom or shop vac to clean out any debris in the firebox. Scrub the side walls and floor of the firebox with the cleaning solution and rinse with clean water.

Use a large paintbrush to apply the latex paint all over your brick or stone and mortar. A smaller brush can be used to paint the edges.

You’ll have a solid, “painted” look that helps your fireplace blend in nicely with the rest of your room.

How to Paint a Firebox

Whew! You’ve painted the outside of your firebox and it looks amazing! But what about that stained firebox that’s home to your burning fire? It could use a little TLC as well.

Whether you’ve ever thought about it or not, the firebox is the focal point of your fireplace. It’s where all the action is. It’s where the lovely, cozy fire dances and warms. Doesn’t the firebox deserve a nice, clean backdrop instead of an area stained with soot?

No matter how much you scrub, sometimes soot stains are there to stay. The only solution is to use a high temperature firebox paint to paint over the stains and make the firebox look brand new.

Here’s what you’ll need to paint your firebox:

  • High Temperature Grill and Stove Paint (Either Spray or Brush-On)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Mask

Firebox paint comes in two forms: a spray and a brush-on. Each type has pros and cons. The spray type is easy to use and quick to cover. The spray comes in a variety of color choices from typical black to creamy almond and an array of different colors.

Most people prefer the black since it hides soot and stains better than most other colors and goes with practically any decor. A lighter color such as cream can be used if you don’t burn real wood or if your fireplace doesn’t get used.

If you’re tempted to choose a color other than black or almond, keep in mind that you may not want to call too much attention to the firebox by painting it with a brighter color. As a general rule, it’s better for the firebox to look clean and neutral rather than screaming for attention.

The brush-on high temp firebox paint can be applied easily with a bit more control than the spray. Using a brush can get into cracks and crevices more efficiently and it’s easier to get clean lines around the edges of the firebox.

1200 degree hi temp brush on paint

Before you get started painting your firebox, be sure it’s clean. Sweep or vacuum out any debris.

Then, use a cleaning solution of 6 Tablespoons TSP and 1 cup of bleach or just soap and water to scrub the sides and the floor of the firebox to make sure it’s free of soot and dirt.

Important Tip: Open windows and doors to ensure there’s plenty of fresh air and adequate ventilation before you begin painting. The high temp paint has a strong odor until it dries.

Wear rubber gloves, a face mask and goggles to protect your eyes, nose and mouth from the paint and fumes.

Coat the sides and floor with the spray or the brush-on paint using a sturdy brush covering the area completely. There should be no strong odor after the paint dries.

Well, what do you think? Cleaning your fireplace and using paint to refresh a dirty old firebox as well as your outdated brick or stone can be a game changer! It’s really amazing what paint can do to transform and update a tired old eyesore.

Whether you decide to refresh your brick or stone fireplace by whitewashing or simply painting it a solid color, you’ll likely be asking yourself why you didn’t do it sooner!