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what prep is needed in order to paint brick hearth and wall in my living room? is special paint required?
You don't REALLY want to paint over brick, do you? Because once you do, there's no going back.
If you don't use the fireplace, just build a false wall with drywall, and prime and paint over that. Then when you sell the place, you can still offer the fireplace.
If you DO use the fireplace, just know that any paint you use near the opening will have to handle heat (and there is paint out there that will), and will show every bit of soot.
Your best bet is to just give it all a good cleaning - that could make all the difference!