Paint expert Mauro Henrique takes us on a house call to tackle a somewhat controversial project. The homeowner and her husband want to update their beautifully-kept home, and they plan to paint exposed fireplace bricks-a taboo for brick purists.
Opinions vary about whether to paint exposed brick. While the finished product can look clean and modern, there is no going back. When a homeowner asks paint expert Mauro Henrique for help painting her fireplace, he first checks that she’s positive that she wants to do it before helping her take this project on.
How to Paint a Fireplace and Hearth
Note: High-temp paint meant for brick surfaces is usually relatively high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds). It’s best to wear a respirator whenever you’re working with this paint.
- Start by removing the fireplace doors. These are usually attached with six screws inside the firebox: Two at the top, two at the bottom, and two on each side. Remove these screws to remove the doors.
- Vacuum the brick to remove any dust and soot. Use a wet/dry vacuum fitted with a bristle brush attachment to get everything out of the grout lines and pores of the brick. Wipe the brick and hearth down with a rag and an all-purpose cleaner, as well.
- Tape off the fireplace surround and the floor around the hearth to prevent any paint from accidentally touching these surfaces. Lay rosin paper down along the top of the strips of painter’s tape on the floor, and then tape the paper in place.
- Stir and pour some of the high-heat paint into the paint tray. Load the tips of the 4-inch stiff bristle paint brush with paint, and apply it to the brick and mortar around the fireplace.
- Use back-and-forth strokes down the length of the brick. Be sure to work the paint into the pores of the brick. Avoid applying too much pressure as the thin paint may drip. Note: Mauro doesn’t like to paint fireboxes. Once a fire is lit inside the box, it will likely release VOCs into the air.
- Use the brushes and a similar technique to apply the paint to the hearth tiles. Be sure to work the paint into the mortar and edges of the tile.
- Apply a second coat if necessary.
Mauro upgrades a 1920’s fireplace by painting the fireplace facing with a high heat paint.
To clean out the fire box, Mauro vacuums it out with a HEPA vac. Then, Brenna wipes down the facing with a multi-surface cleaner and clean rag. To paint the fireplace, Mauro uses a 1200 degree high heat paint in flat black. To apply the paint to the fireplace facing and hearth, Mauro uses 4” stiff bristle brushes.