How to Paint a Brick Fireplace: Picking the Best Paint for Your Fireplace

Painting a brick fireplace is a great and inexpensive way to give your space a fresh, new look.

NYC-based designer Jill Romine says, “When a full-scale remodel is not in order, one of my favorite ways to refresh a brick fireplace is to simply paint it! When red or brown brick doesn’t work for your personal style, an easy way to change it is to embrace the texture, depth, and dimension of the material but use paint to change the color and better suit your design aesthetic. ”

If you’re considering painting your brick fireplace, learn more about what goes into painting a brick fireplace, including how to paint a brick fireplace, fireplace paint ideas and the best paint for brick fireplaces.

Choose the Right Paint

Before you begin painting your brick fireplace, the most essential step is to choose the right paint. To decide which color suits your needs best, ask yourself some questions. Below are some of the best questions to ask before you begin painting.

Will You Be Using the Fireplace?

If you plan to use your fireplace, it’s important to select a high-heat paint for fireplaces. This type of paint can withstand heat up to 250 degrees**.

Latex interior paint will work if your fireplace isn’t operable or you don’t turn it on. Selecting latex paint instead of oil or acrylic is the best choice for a fireplace because it’s durable and breathable. PPG’s latex interior paint selections offer plenty of options to create the fireplace aesthetic you want to achieve.

What Sheen Do You Want?

Sheen is how shiny the paint is or how much it reflects light. Below are two of the most common sheens to select when you’re painting a fireplace.

  • Eggshell is lower-sheen and gives off a warm glow. It’s easier to apply, and it shows fewer imperfections, which is essential since fireplace brick is a textured finish.</ul>
  • Semi-gloss is harder to apply and it reflects a lot of light. It can be distracting in a bright room, so you may not want to use semi-gloss if the room gets plenty of natural light. Semi-gloss paint is also easier to clean and less likely to stain.

Alicia Hassen from Brooklinteriors says, “The best types of paints to achieve either looks are an indoor latex or masonry type paint. And remember to choose heat-resistant paint if you will be operating the fireplace!”

Colors to Paint a Brick Fireplace

Paint color options for fireplaces can feel nearly unlimited. Selecting the right color for your space depends on the look you want to achieve. If you like the color of your natural brick and the fireplace is stained or needs a refresher, you can paint it the existing brick color.

For a crisp, fresh look, white is an excellent choice. Delicate White (PPG1001-1) is a true white with no undertones. It pairs well with any paint color and will work in almost any space.

If you prefer a rustic style, you can whitewash the fireplace, which will let some of the colors of the brick show through. Hassen says, “A whitewashed look is great for interiors with an eclectic or vintage look. An opaque treatment is extremely versatile, lending well to modern apartment designs and those with Scandinavian influences.”

For a more dramatic look, consider painting the fireplace black. “For moodier, bolder spaces PPG Paint’s Black Magic PPG1001-7 or Admiralty PPG1042-7 would make quite an eye-catching statement,” says Romine.

Romine says, “No matter what color you choose it’s important to know that contrasting colors on trims, mantles and base moldings (also known as finish carpentry) will frame the painted brick fireplace making it visually pop as a focal design element in your space. Alternatively, painting the brick the same color or similar shade as the finish carpentry will make the brick blend and disappear into the architecture.”

How to Paint Brick

The process of painting a brick fireplace requires two steps: prepping and painting. However, if you have recently set fireplace bricks, you should let them dry before painting them for at least one year. Below is a breakdown of the steps to painting a brick fireplace.

Hassen says, “When painting a brick fireplace, the most important steps are in the prep work! First, make sure the brick is in good condition, and if there are small cracks, you can fill these with acrylic caulk.”

  • Assess the brick: Check to see if the mortar is loose. While small cracks can be repaired with acrylic caulk, large cracks and loose mortar will require you to repoint the brick to remove the old mortar and replace it with new mortar.
  • Clean the brick: Use a dust rag or vacuum to remove dust* and cobwebs. A water and soap or vinegar and water solution can clean the brick. After cleaning the brick, allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. If there is burnt material on the brick, you will need a stronger cleaning solution, such as ammonia**, naphtha soap** or a powerful cleaner**, trisodium phosphate (TSP)**. It’s important to avoid acidic cleaning solutions and ensure the area is well-ventilated.
  • Painting the brick: A foam roller can be used to apply two coats of masonry primer. The foam roller is a good option as it helps avoid stippling and provides dexterity to get into small or uneven crevices on the brick. Two coats is important because it helps block the humidity exposure**, which is inevitable because of the flue. Allow the primer to dry completely before painting.

Hassen says, “Prior to painting a gorgeous coat on your brick fireplace, use a heat-resistant, acrylic primer**. If you plan to operate the fireplace, it’s best to get a primer that is stain blocking.” This is important as a standard acrylic** or oil paint** can give off an odor when heated, even after it has had time to dry and cure.

Hire a Paintzen Contractor for Your Project

Painting a brick fireplace can enhance your room’s aesthetic in an instant. Get started by browsing paint colors at Paintzen’s color sampler, including the selections that are the best paint colors for your fireplace. Paintzen also offers free, remote color consultations with our trained team of project advisors. A brief phone call can help you get some incredible ideas to paint your fireplace and you can order paint swatches, to determine how the paint will look in your own space. Contact us for a free quote for your fireplace painting project.

*WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead.

**Please refer to the Product Label, Technical Data Sheet (TDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for safety and detailed application instructions.


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.