If you have a brick fireplace, you may have considered painting it for an updated look. Today’s post will walk you through the steps I took to achieve my painted brick fireplace in one afternoon and the materials needed (hint: it’s not actually paint).
My Brick Fireplace Before Paint
As soon as we moved into our first home I knew one of the very first projects I wanted to do was paint our brick fireplace. While I do have an appreciation for brick and often admire its character in other homes, the brick on our fireplace was not pretty. It had the red and orangey undertones that screamed out-dated and I wanted a softer, more neutral look in our home.
I headed to Pinterest to get ideas and found a slew of pictures with white painted brick fireplaces. Only problem was I didn’t love the stark look of all white brick. There were several tutorials for white-washed brick as well that had more sheer coverage but that wasn’t the look i was after either.
I searched some more and found a product called Romabio Limewash. It’s an authentic lime paint that is specifically formulated to create a unique lime wash effect on stone, brick and other masonry surfaces. It’s a 1-coat process and and is self-priming and it’s made from lime mined directly in North Italy. You can read more about it here.
Update: This limewash product has become incredibly popular since Studio McGee used it on their brick exterior of their new home!
What I loved most about it is that you can achieve a custom look just in how it’s applied and you can cover the brick as much or as little as you’d like. The product is a natural product and can be washed off within 5 days of application, so if I applied it and hated it, I could always wash it off. This made it seem less permanent and scary.
When I was browsing online for inspiration, the brick limewashed fireplaces I liked best had a two-tone effect and used a combination of colors to achieve a varied look that looked more natural rather than one solid color. I think it looks more dimensional and authentic to have different colored bricks.
My Painted Brick Fireplace After Limewashing
This stuff is magic! It’s incredibly easy to use and forgiving. You cannot mess up, seriously. At first when I mixed it up I didn’t think I’d have enough and it looked way too watery that I didn’t think the color would stick. Do not be fooled. I had plenty of product to finish our entire fireplace and the color covered perfectly.
Here’s the step by step process of how I did it…
How to Paint a Brick Fireplace
1. I started by wiping down the brick with a damp cloth to make sure I had a clean surface to work with. I decided not to paint the firebox since it is a wood burning fireplace and we keep it covered. Cover your mantle and the floor surrounding your fireplace with drop cloths since you will drip!
2. In order for the limewash to work, you have to wet the surface first before applying the product. I took a big spray bottle filled with water and sprayed down the brick fireplace so it was wet.
3. In 2 separate 5-gallon buckets, I mixed up my 2 colors I was using, following the directions on the back of the can of a 1:1 ratio of water and limewash product. I used one quart of Avorio White and one quart of Nube Gray. Since lime wash is made to work with brick and stone allowing it to breath, there is no need to prime it. Saves a step and why I love this limewash even more!
4. I started at the top of the fireplace with Nube Gray first and randomly applied it to single bricks using my masonry brush, not being too careful to “stay within the lines” of each brick because I wanted it to look natural and authentic and not perfect. I highly recommend a masonry brush because it’s much larger than a paint brush and so it goes a lot faster in this step. Plus, the bristles are really pliable and makes it easy to work with. *Update: I noticed a reviewer didn’t like the masonry brush. I only used the Romabio brand brush which worked great, I can’t speak to the cheaper masonry brushes.
I kept painting random bricks, working my way down the chimney. Since the product is meant to be watery, it does run so it’s best to start at the top.
5. Once I finished with Nube Gray and made my way to the bottom of the fireplace, next I followed it with my bucket of Avorio White and began applying the lime wash with my masonry brush, starting at the top again. But this time, I painted the remaining bricks, only quickly going around the bricks that were already painted Nube Gray. I was very messy in my process and didn’t try to perfectly paint around each Nube Gray brick. In fact, I got white lime wash on the gray bricks and that’s what gives it the natural look. The drips on the gray bricks did not bother me and I kind of liked how it felt more authentic.
It was difficult to get in the mortar lines between each brick with the masonry brush since it’s so large, so I went back in with a 3” paint brush to get in between each crack so it was all covered.
6. I waited an hour or so until the lime wash dried and then I started at the top of the fireplace and used a damp rag to wipe off some of the lime wash. This is the beauty of the product. You have 5 days to wipe it off and make adjustments for how sheer you want it before it calcifies and is solid. I wanted it to be pretty well covered so none of the red brick showed through, so I honestly did not wipe off much.
That’s how you lime wash a fireplace!
The fireplace cover was an ugly gold so I spray painted it black with high temperature spray paint and it’s so much better.
It’s really as simple as that! I finished limewashing the fireplace myself in one afternoon and it really only took a few hours of work. Using two colors took longer but I think it was definitely worth it and I love how it turned out!
In under $100, I completely transformed our fireplace. I cannot sing the praises of Romabio lime wash enough!
By the way, if you’re curious how to mount a TV above a brick fireplace, this tutorial shows exactly how we did it and hid the cords.