Imagine the ideal living room with the family gathered together around the fireplace. It’s brick, right? Traditional, attractive, natural. So why would someone paint over that brick?
Many people are opposed “on principle” to the idea of painting a brick fireplace. Of course personal preference is a factor in any remodeling decision. However, there are several circumstances where painting a brick fireplace might be your best option.
1. Ugly Bricks.
If all fireplaces were as beautiful as the one you imagined in your ideal living room, there might be no need to paint them. But in reality, many fireplaces look just plain ugly.
Styles change. Even high-quality bricks may look dated and out of style. Painting with the right technique can significantly improve the look of your brick fireplace and your entire living area. The right technique can make the difference between a flat, painted fireplace and “real-looking” brick. Try a pre-assembled fireplace paint kit to get all the tools and paint you need as well as instructions for painting brick with the correct technique.
2. Cover Repaired or Discolored Bricks.
Some older fireplaces may have “bad spots” with replaced bricks or patched mortar. Repaired or replaced bricks may not match the look of the original bricks in your fireplace. Even if every effort was made to match the repaired brick with the original, the repair might still be visible and may have aged differently.
Even cleaning fireplace bricks can change how they look. Have you ever tried to remove soot, residue, or even crayon from a brick? It may take strong chemicals, harsh abrasives, or serious scrubbing to get stubborn stains off brick. This can remove the exposed outer layer of the brick, making the cleaned brick stand out from its more “weathered” neighbors.
Painting your fireplace covers over these “surface” differences in brick, giving your fireplace a new, unified appearance. As a bonus, a high-quality base coat of paint will seal the brick and protect it from further damage.
3. Cover or Improve an Existing Paint Job.
Removing paint from a brick fireplace may sound like “the right thing to do,” but once you get down to it the process is messy, expensive, tedious, and potentially dangerous. Solvents and chemicals are often toxic and usually include dangerous acids that can cause severe damage to humans and pets. Sandblasting is generally not recommended for indoor brick and in any case can leave brick damaged or with an “uneven” appearance that you might have to paint over anyway. Obsessively scrubbing bricks and mortar with a wire brush could take weeks or even months. And after all that paint removal work, you might very well find damaged or unsightly brick—the reason it was painted over in the first place.
Other methods of dealing with painted brick have their own drawbacks. Tearing out a brick fireplace to replace it can cost several thousand dollars while leaving you at the mercy of a contractor. And granite or marble can be even more expensive.
What Are Your Options?
Option 1: Painting your fireplace brick with a solid coat of paint.
- Cost: $75 worth of paint and supplies should be enough for two coats of paint.
- Advantages: If you do decide to paint your brick fireplace, you can pick the color to match your décor. This will give your fireplace a clean, uniform appearance in a solid color.
- Drawbacks: Your fireplace will have an unmistakable “painted” look. Very difficult to remove paint from brick.
- Estimated time: 3 to 4 hours
Option 2: Remodel your fireplace brick for a “real brick” look using a do-it-yourself paint kit.
- Cost: $200 for an all-in-one kit with several colors of paint including a protective base coat/sealer, supplies, and instructions.
- Advantages: Easy and affordable. Try a pre-assembled fireplace paint kit to give your ugly fireplace a rejuvenated “real brick” look.
- Drawbacks: Very difficult to remove paint from brick.
- Estimated time: 5 to 7 hours
Option 3: Tear out and totally remodel your fireplace in brick, stone, granite, or marble.
- Cost: $3,000 to $8,000 to hire a contractor for complete demolition and replacement of the existing fireplace with a brand new one.
- Advantages: You will end up with a brand new fireplace built to your specifications. This may sound like a daunting project, but the results can be spectacular.
- Drawbacks: Expensive, time-consuming, messy, and you have to have a contractor do the heavy demolition and construction work.
- Estimated time: 3 to 5 days
Although a completely new fireplace may be an “ideal” solution to an ugly fireplace, you may find that a newly painted fireplace can be a huge improvement—at a fraction of the cost. Painting a brick fireplace is an inexpensive upgrade that can make a world of difference in how your fireplace looks.
Especially at a time when everyone could use a little extra equity, painting your fireplace adds a great deal of value to your home. Giving your space a more modern look will help attract buyers, just ask many home flippers who have been using this secret themselves. Take a moment to consider all of the fireplace paint products available and decide what works best for your space's decor.
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