Sunday, July 29, 2007

Faux Finishes for Fireplace Brick

Faux finishes are all the rage these days. You can’t pick up a home improvement magazine or watch a decorating show on cable without running across some version of faux finishing. Much of what you see will proclaim that you can “do it yourself,” while the opposite camp will tell you that you need a professional to do it right—or they might even offer extensive, expensive training so that you can call yourself a professional faux finisher.

The term has been applied so broadly and to so many areas of decorating, it’s easy to become confused. What exactly does faux finishing mean, and how can you do it to fireplace brick?

It’s a Fake!

Faux finishing literally means fake finishing, and it’s a process for visually simulating the look and texture of a material using paint. The technique has been around for centuries, but recently its popularity has surged.

What materials can you simulate? Anything really. That is why faux finishing can be applied to almost any decorating situation. With the proper paints, brushes, and techniques, you can create a very believable finish that looks like marble, wood, stucco, plaster, or brick.

Do You Need Professional Faux Finishing for Your Fireplace?

If you are unhappy with the look of your brick fireplace, you can hire a professional faux-finisher to update your fireplace to make the décor of your living area by painting the existing brick to “mimic” the look of real brick. This can give you some great results, but there are a couple drawbacks to this approach:
  • Is your professional really a pro? Since faux-finishing has become popular quite rapidly, many people have jumped on the bandwagon to call themselves “professional” faux-finishers. Since there is no universally accepted accreditation for this, always ask for references and look at samples of previous work before hiring a finisher.
  • Is your professional worth the cost? Because most faux finishing is labor-intensive and faux-finishers consider themselves artisans rather than housepainters, they often charge exorbitant rates. According to the article "How to Update Your Fireplace" by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Vierria (reprinted on the HGTV website), Sacramento faux finishers Brigette and David Logsdon charge $800 to $1,200 for a typical faux-finish job on a fireplace.

Do It Yourself

Before you shell out big bucks to hire a professional faux finisher, why not try your hand at it? Order a fireplace paint kit to get all the paint and supplies you need to remodel your ugly brick fireplace and give it a “real brick” faux finish that fits your living area. The kit even comes with video instructions that take you through the entire process step by step—you can do the whole thing in a single weekend. And best of all, the entire kit costs only $200. What have you got to lose?

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