Recently we’ve been asked by numerous newsletter subscribers about painting over their white brick fireplaces. Figured if so many of you are doing this project it was time to get the steps out here for you! Here’s a letter from Carol.
“I have a white brick fireplace that always looks dirty. I would like to faux paint it using colors of brown and blue. The surrounding bookshelves are white with brown interior paint. Walls and carpet are beige/taupe at this point. I have never tried to faux finish anything so I am looking for an easy application.” ~Carol
If you’re looking for an easy application, I am not sure if this would count as one. It’s not “difficult” but there are a lot of steps involved. And like all projects it takes prep work. Also, there is really no way you can try this out on a sample board first. It won’t have the “texture” that your brick fireplace will have. You can do a test board but really all you’ll be seeing is your color combinations. You won’t have the texture that the TRUE bricks will have. You could go out and buy a few bricks and practice on them before working directly on your brick fireplace. But you’ll have to paint them white first! 😉
Here is your list of things you’ll need to have one hand:
- Acrylic Paints (or regular latex paint in various shades – “oops paints” from your paint store work GREAT!)
- Several small sea sponges or even some kitchen sponges cut in to 3″ x 3″ squares
- TSP cleaner or something equally strong
- A scrub brush and maybe a toothbrush (for cleaning the brick)
- Drop cloths or Newspapers
- Painters Tape
- Sponge Paint Rollers and Trays or even better – some paper plates
- A couple of stiff 2inch paint brushes
- Spray bottle with water
- Rags and paper towels for clean up
Once you have your base color figured out, you can then dry brush and sponge your acrylic paints (mixed with glaze so they stay moveable longer) onto the face of the bricks. If you like brown & blue, you will want to grab a couple different shades of each.
Here are the steps you will need to follow:
1. Pick Your Colors (in your case a few different shades of blues & browns). You will also need to pick a grout color and use that as your base. I’d go with a good muddy cement brown/gray.
2. Protect Your Surroundings! Tape up newspapers on the surrounding areas (your bookcases, your mantle, etc. ) and lay your drop cloth down to protect your flooring.
3. Next – Prep work!!! Clean the brick thoroughly. Small amounts of soot aren’t a problem and can be sealed with a good primer. But if the fireplace is really dirty (with soot or age) then it needs to be cleaned with TSP. Washing the brick helps the primer to stick better to the surface. I’d rather you clean it and be happy with the finish than take a chance, NOT clean it and then have your finish fail. TSP is a STRONG cleaner so make sure you follow the directions on the box. Wear gloves and protective eye covers.
4. Prime Time – Use a good primer/sealer like Kilz, Bin, or Zinsser. My favorite trick at this point is to have the primer tinted to the base coat color I want. So whatever color you chose for your grout is what I’d tint my primer/sealer.
5. Time to Grout…or rather PAINT your Grout! Like I said, a good “cement/mud” color is perfect and you can have your primer/sealer tinted to that shade and paint it in when you prime the whole surface. 😉 A satin or pearl finish would be your best choice. Make sure you get good coverage in the grout line area. But if you’ve decided to go with a dark color for your grout (like say…charcoal) you’ll have to paint that in after priming. Use your 2″ brush to paint the grout lines in and don’t worry if you get some on the face of the bricks. It won’t show when you’re done.
6. Now for your bricks! Pour your base color in to a roller tray. Next, set up your other colors (4 or 5 various colors of browns and blues and golds). Use “oops” paints from your paint store or get some acrylic craft paints and pour a small pancake sized puddle of each color on a paper plate. Use a small sponge roller and roll your base color over all the brick faces, working in small sections about 3′ by 3′ so you have time to work your colors in.
7. Time to Add Some Color! Get out a dry brush or sponge. After you roll your base color on to your brick faces then take your sponge and dab on your next primary/dominate color. Maybe this is when you want the blue! Next, take your sponge and dip it in two or three of your other colors and dab them on your bricks. Keep it random to give it a more natural feel. You want to layer the colors on top of one another. This will be the part where your creativity will come in! Play around with the colors. Be sure to mix your colors with glaze to make the paint more movable. (2 parts paint to 2 parts glaze)
8. Random but not? Try keeping the same color scheme going for three or four bricks in a row but on an angle and no more than three or four. Otherwise you’ll create “stripes”! Some should be darker than others. The key is to keep it all fairly random. After painting a 3′ by 3′ section step back and see if you like the way it looks. If not – get back in there and dab some more colors on until you do like it.
9. What’s the water bottle for? You need the spray bottle with water to keep your surface damp as you go. This way you can work the paint in and around and get those colors blended and smooshed until you LOVE the way it looks. The glaze should do this without water, but if you work in a warm environment you may need the extra spritz of water once in a while. Just watch out for drips!
10. Old or new? You might want to leave some of that old white showing through in the brick faces so it looks like your bricks are “reclaimed” or recycled and not “new”.
Working in sections allows you to shift the colors the way you want them and to clean up any paint that goes astray and gets on your “grout”. Take your time and enjoy the process. Dip the sponge in two or three colors at a time and turn your hand so the colors change position as you dab them on the surface of your bricks.
Hope this helps! Can’t wait to see how your project turns out!
Get out there and splash some paint around!
P.S. A friend used this tool (a Woolie) on a recent fireplace job and she said it worked for the Dry Brushing on the surface of the bricks perfectly: