My client was moving into a home with a brick fireplace that she hated! She didn’t like the color of the brick, the mantle or the brass on the front, it was just too dark and blah for her liking. If you are in the same boat as her, then just keep reading for directions on how to change the look of your fireplace.
Here is a picture of her fireplace and mantle when she bought the house.
-quart of paint in flat finish (color of your choice, I chose white)
-Rustoleum high heat spray paint (color of your choice, I chose black)
-container or cup to mix
-plastic coverings or tarps
-tape (painters or masking)
-rags (lint free and LOTS of!)
-cardboard or paper cut to fit over glass inserts
-mask (for when you spray the insert)
Now that you know the supplies needed for this project let’s get started!
Be sure that your fireplace is clean from any dust or cobwebs and remove your mantle, if possible. This mantle literally fell off in my hands when I touched it, scary right?!? It was attached by two nails, well not really sure I can say it was even attached, but there were two nails there. If your mantle can not be removed then I would suggest wrapping (tightly) and taping a sheet or plastic covering over it to prevent paint from getting on it.
Beware…. this is an extremely messy project! So please, please, please (I can not stress enough) be sure to cover everything that surrounds the fireplace or you will splatter paint on it! I was lucky in the fact that the carpet was getting replaced, so I did not have to worry about that as much. I would open any windows that you can too, so that you have a well ventilated space when you spray the fireplace insert. For this part, you want to be sure and wear a mask so that you do not breathe in or inhale all of the fumes from the spray paint. Cover all of the glass inserts with paper and tape to prevent the spray paint from getting on it. You also want to cover the surrounding brick to prevent any overspray, I taped up plastic sheets to cover it.
Shake your spray paint really well so it comes out nicely, I always do a test spray on a scrap wood/cardboard piece too. I also used a piece of cardboard to line the edges as I was going around as extra precaution. Now start spraying! Go in short, light movements to prevent dripping, you can always repeat it with additional coats if needed. Once all of the brass is covered allow it to dry. Okay, I was inpatient (and on a time crunch since the carpet installers were going to be there in a few hours) and started pulling everything off right away, this is when you do as I say, not as I do.
No more brass!! What an improvement already.
Once the black is dry to the touch you can remove the coverings from the brick. It is now time to mix your paint! I mixed my paint in an approximate 1:2 ratio in a large cup and stirred it well. It will be thin and runny, but that is what you want for a whitewash so don’t panic! When whitewashing there is not an exact ratio for mixing the paint, you are using water downed paint to achieve a lighter, see through finish. I prefer to start out with less paint and more water when whitewashing because you can always darken it up by adding additional paint, but you can not lighten it up easily.
Grab several rags and wet them to have nearby. You will be using them to wipe off the bricks as you brush the paint on. You want them to be wet, but not dripping, so wring them out. To get the hang of it, start out in an area of the fireplace that is not extremely visible. I started on a lower side corner that isn’t visible when you walk in the room. Using your chip brush, brush on your water/paint mixture to a few of the bricks. After you have painted the mixture on, wipe it off with a damp rag then go over it and blot it with your damp rag. You only want to work on 3-4 bricks at a time so that you can wipe it off before it completely soaks in. I went over the entire brick area with one coat of the paint mixture to start. This is time consuming and messy, but the end result will be worth it, trust me! Continue working on a few bricks at a time, wiping and blotting as you go. You will need to change out your rag every so often because wiping on the brick will shred them (and your knuckles, if you’re not careful).
Look at what a difference it makes! This was with only one coat of the paint mixture. If you are satisfied with the overall look after one coat then you are finished. If after one coat it isn’t light enough, then you can go back over it with another coat. Just remember, once you apply there is no going back!
My brick was finished at this point so on to the mantle! I cleaned up the mantle really well with Krud Kutter and let it dry. After it was completely dry, using the same paint mixture I used on the brick, I brushed it onto the mantle. I wiped over it with a new, clean rag, using the same technique as I did on the brick.
Now that I have finished painting, I pulled all of the plastic coverings off and rehung the mantle, this time I drilled pilot holes into the brick and screwed it in so that it was really secure (not just two nails).
Time to stand back and admire your work!! Well, I couldn’t admire it for too long, carpet installers were knocking at the door ready to put the new carpet in.
This change definitely helped to brighten up the room and my client was ecstatic with the end results!