Diane has been tackling DIY home projects since she and her husband purchased their first home in 2007.
I've been slowly making over our 1980s Cape Cod-style home for almost 10 years. Our home has its original beautiful Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors, but their strong red undertones never played nicely with the red brick fireplace. If I had known how quick and easy it was to update the statement piece of our living room, I would have tackled this project years ago!
This is a great project for any skill level. Honestly, choosing the perfect shade of black paint was the hardest part!
Supplies You'll Need
Stiff wire brush
Brush small debris from bricks
Scrubbing cleaner and rag and/or scrub brush
Scrub soot and dirt from bricks
Wet/dry shop vacuum (optional)
Vacuum up loose dirt and soot
Tape off around fireplace to protect walls and floor
Protect the floor area around the fireplace from drips and splatters
Apply primer and paint
Apply after cleaning and before paint
Apply 1–2 coats in color of choice
Step 1: Prep and Cleaning
First, I started by removing small debris from the bricks with a wire brush. Then, I grabbed a small bucket and filled it with some warm water and abrasive scrubbing cleaner. Alternating between a rag and scrub brush, I scoured the bricks clean of any soot, dirt, and dust. I also used my wet/dry shop vacuum to finish cleaning up any loose dirt.
Step 2: Taping and Priming
In order to keep crisp paint lines and protect the floors and walls, I used painter's tape to tape off the surrounding brick edges. After the bricks were dry from scrubbing, I grabbed an old paint brush and gave the entire brick surface one coat of masonry primer.
I used Behr Concrete and Masonry Bonding Primer. The consistency of this particular primer is very close to water.
The application is quite easy, but in order to protect my floors from any drips or splatters, I placed a drop cloth around the base of the fireplace. This also made cleanup a breeze!
Step 3: Painting
When the recommended four hours of drying time for the primer had passed, I used a 2.5" angled paint brush to apply the latex paint to the fireplace. Using a brush made it much easier to get every tiny crevice of brick and mortar completely covered. Only one coat of paint was needed, but I did have to go back and touch up a few spots that I originally missed.
I removed all the painter's tape before the paint had fully dried. This helped ensure that the edges of the paint wouldn't peel up with the tape.
The latex paint I used is Sherwin Williams "Black Magic" in a matte finish.
Taking It a Step Further
The impact of the black brick fireplace in my home is better than I had dreamed. I love how classic and neutral it looks without having the upkeep of painted white brick.
Prior to painting the bricks, I was able to locally source a white oak beam to use as a mantle. After cutting it to the correct size, I stained it with Varathane wood stain in "Natural" and sealed it with three to four coats of a water base polyurethane. Swapping out the old mantle for the new white oak beam really elevated the look and function.
I continued the makeover even further by painting my entire living room in Sherwin Williams "Cloud Cover." The contrast of the white walls against the black brick really makes the fireplace pop!
Replacing the mantle and painting the entire living room added a couple more days to this makeover project. The fireplace paint refresh only took one day!
Painting the Firebox
It's worth noting that I did NOT prime or paint inside the firebox. High heat spray paint is available at most home improvement stores. If you are wanting to paint inside the firebox, I would recommend checking out those high heat paint products and following the instructions on the label.
Longevity and Upkeep
This project was completed in my home during the fall of 2020. After close to a year of moderate use of our wood burning fire place, I have not had to do any touch ups or repairs to any part of the painted brick. It has help up extremely well and has had no fading or chips in the paint. This same process of clean, prime, and paint has been used on multiple fireplaces in friend's and family's homes with the same results.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Diane McDaniel