Lighten up a traditional fireplace with an easy-to-apply wash of inexpensive paint.
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Thoroughly wash the brick and grout using trisodium phosphate and a scrub brush. Take special care to remove any soot from around the fireplace opening. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let dry completely.
Large deposits of soot on the face brick may be a sign you’ll need fireplace doors to protect painted bricks from excess heat and smoke.
If the brick has already been painted, check for chipping, flaking, or blistering paint. Repair and prime any damaged areas.
Paint that’s been there for decades may contain lead. Before attempting to remove any old finish, first check for lead that needs to be removed by a professional.
Carefully mask off the walls or cabinets around the brick with painter’s tape. Tape down kraft paper or pieces of cardboard as needed to protect the mantel and supports. Tape around and over the firebox or fireplace insert and add drop cloths to protect the flooring.
Although you can paint the inside of a masonry fireplace using high-temperature paint, there’s no guarantee the finish will withstand contact with open flames from a fire. These bricks are better left unfinished.
Pour equal parts white latex paint and water in a container and mix them to an even consistency.
For less whitening, increase the amount of water in your mixture. You can always darken the bricks later by increasing the amount of paint.
Fill a spray bottle with water and lightly mist the brick area to be whitewashed without leaving drips. While the bricks are moist, lightly load a wadded cotton cloth with thinned paint and wipe it on the moistened surface.
If the mortar is deeply recessed from the brick, load a sash brush with a small amount of thinned paint and use a dry-brushing technique to reach both the mortar and the edges and ends of the bricks.
Repeat the previous two steps for the next section of brick, alternately misting and wiping on thinned paint.
For subtle color, wipe a slightly different shade of thinned white paint on some of the individual bricks.
After whitewashing all of the bricks that can be painted with a rag, use a dry brush to fill in hard-to reach places. If a spot has too much color, mist it thoroughly and blot up the moisture along with some of the paint. Let the whitewash dry overnight before using the fireplace.