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Can You Paint A Fireplace? (Tile, Stone, Brick, & More)

We’re thinking about painting our fireplace but wanted to know if it’s possible first. With the heat and smoke, it sounds a bit tricky. So, I did some research. Here’s what I found about painting fireplaces.

Fireplace exteriors can generally be painted with interior latex paint as it’s heat tolerant up to 180-200ºF. However, fireplace interiors range between 500-1100ºF, so using a heat-resistant masonry paint with primer and silicone resin is best. Certain materials may require a specific type of prep and paint.

Painting a fireplace is a great way to touch up your interior and can be done in a few ways depending on the physical texture. Before you begin painting, there are a few pros and cons to consider when choosing paint, primer, and tools.

Let’s take a closer look at what to know when painting your fireplace.

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Reasons For and Against Painting Fireplaces

painting a brick fireplace surround white
ProsCons
Fairly Easy to Clean Usually Difficult to Remove
Low CostCan Take Time to Apply
Looks GoodDiscover or Highlight Masonry Issues

Pros

Painting your fireplace can drastically improve the appearance of a room by giving it a modern look and brightening up the space. There are many different colors, paint types, and shines to match any aesthetic you’re going for, letting your creativity run wild.

With some research and purchasing the right tools and paint, it can be a relatively inexpensive DIY project that doesn’t require much time or energy. Cleaning and maintenance are also improved since paint is usually easier to clean than textured fireplaces.

Cons

Due to ranging temperatures, there is interior and exterior fireplace paint that you should be mindful of when purchasing. Choosing the correct paint helps reduce the chances of fumes being released into your house and reduce the paint peeling.

Although painting itself can be easy, there is a lot of messy preparation that must be done beforehand to ensure a solid finish. Prep work can include cleaning the masonry, inspecting, cleaning, and possibly repairing mortar, vacuuming the entire area, and using a chemical cleaner to ensure all dust and dirt is removed. 

It is vital to your paint’s potential that it is completely clean and removed of any loose particles to minimize paint chipping or peeling. Make sure that you are 100% sure of the paint you choose because once it’s painted and the fireplace has been used, it can be very grueling to remove.

Now that we’ve weighed the pros and cons, let’s explore what you can paint on your fireplace (and which paints are best to use).

What Kind of Paint to Use on Fireplaces

white brick fireplace
  • Brick and Stone – Brick fireplaces are common to paint and require cleaning and priming the brick with one coat before applying the paint. For both brick and stone, use interior latex masonry paint with some heat resistance. Masonry paint is designed to work with textured surfaces including brick and stone. Choose flat, semi-gloss, or gloss paint. If you want a whitewashed look, use chalk paint or flat latex paint and water it down.
  • Tile – Painting tile is fairly simple with minimal prep work. All you need to do is deep clean your fireplace’s tile with warm water and dish soap mixture followed by taping off the edges before applying paint. Fireplace tile usually takes 3 coats to cover.
  • Doors – The doors can be painted easily with indoor latex spray paint, but it must be heat resistant paint due to the proximity of the fire.
  • Insert – Inserts can be painted with spray paint in under an hour but requires a couple of months of sitting to cure. Make sure to do this in the spring when warmth isn’t a necessity in your house. 
  • Mortar – Use the same process as brick.
  • Marble – Marble can be painted with chalk paint and no prep or primer is required. Chalk paint gives marble a matte finish. However, consider using a topcoat, such as polyurethane.
  • Metal – Metal is nonporous resulting in poorer paint adhesion. This can be fixed through the use of a metal-etching primer before applying heat-resistant paint.

If you need some help choosing the level of shine you want from your paint, here’s a quick table I put together.

PaintLevel of Matte/GlossDifficulty To Clean
FlatRough, MatteDifficult
EggshellSlight Gloss, MatteLess Difficult
SatinMore Gloss, Not ShinySlightly Difficult
Semi-GlossGlossyEasier
GlossShinyEasy
High GlossVery ShinyVery Easy
All types of paint can color-matched by getting them tinted at most home improvement stores.

If you’re choosing high gloss for tile, consider sanding the title to help the paint stick.

Before you start painting your fireplace, it’s important to choose the right type of non-toxic paint for your specific fireplace’s texture.

Also, select the correct heat resistance for the interior and exterior of your fireplace. The last thing you want is burning paint chipping or peeling and sending fumes through your house.

The hottest area of your fireplace is the interior where temperatures range from 500ºF to 1100ºF. Interior heat-resistant paints can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees but using a primer and silicone resin can extend their life expectancy. 

The amount of radiation from a fireplace varies depending on type of fuel used, intensity and size of fire and burning temperature of fire, which can range from as low as 500ºF to well above 1100ºF. Masonry brick linings in fireplaces radiate heat back to the fire to help create the higher temperature fires necessary for optimum combustion.

Bob Beisbier, Registered Home Inspector and Certified Master Inspector (CMI)

If you are painting the exterior of the fireplace, it will not require high heat resistance due to its limited exposure to the fire. Even so, choosing interior latex paint is required due to its heat resistance of 180 to 200ºF.

Related: Getting the Most Heat From Your Fireplace: The Complete Guide

Spray paint, chalk paint, and acrylic latex paint are the most common fireplace paints used. Each provides ranging temperatures, adhesion, maintenance, and flexibility to meet your fireplaces’ needs.

Spray paint is an easier way to apply paint but requires much more safety precautions. To prevent paint and fumes from spreading through the room, seal off the room and furniture. Protective equipment such as gloves, eyewear, and a mask will help as well.

Chalk paint is convenient and does not require primer or sanding compared to other paints and usually only needs one coat. Its water-based texture makes it not flammable and allows it to be thickened or thinned to paint over rougher surfaces.

Acrylic latex paint is breathable and durable but does not have a high heat resistance making it unusable inside a fireplace. It can still be applied to the exterior and is a great choice for those who don’t use their fireplace regularly.

More Tips To Paint Your Fireplace

using a roller to paint fireplace brick white
Recommended ToolsRecommended Paints
Paint BrushesWhitewash (Best for Brick and Stone)
Painter’s TapeWhite Acrylic Paint and Primer (Best for Metal and Tile)
Sand Paper (Optional to Create Better Adhesion)Paint and Primer in One, Gloss (Best for Most Materials)

Consider how reflective you want your paint to be by choosing either eggshell or semi-gloss paint. Eggshell paint can be used to bring a room a warm glow with its limited reflections while semi-gloss paint is more reflective.

Painters tape and plastic sheets can be used to ensure clean lines and reduce the chance of paint spills. Using a paintbrush along the mortar first followed by a roller brush can create an even coat of paint ensuring every inch has been covered.  

Fireplaces hold more humidity than walls throughout houses, especially brick fireplaces. To combat any staining from the humidity in bricks, a few coats of primer can reduce the humidity levels. 

If you’d like a visual, here’s great a step-by-step video for how to prep your brick fireplace, what tools you’ll need, and which painting techniques work best.

And here’s a fun video on how to whitewash a brick fireplace.

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