White Washed Brick Fireplace~Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I shared a living room before and after.  Since the post, I have received requests for a tutorial on the fireplace transformation.  Ask and ye shall receive.  







Meet Sarah and EJ (the homeowners)...








I've already introduced you to Zeke {the real owner of this space} but, in case you missed it,
 here he is again...








I've worked with them in a few areas of their stunning traditional style home.
These guys are not afraid to tackle a DIY project.  Not only are they not intimidated to try any kind of DIY project but,  they knock it out of the park every time.  



Case in point, after a brief consultation in their living room, they took it from this...


{Before}




To this...
{After}


in no time flat.  

Immediately after I met with Sarah and discussed the option of painting their fireplace, they got to work researching brick painting techniques.   They decided to go for a white-wash finish as opposed to an opaque paint finish {which was a great choice}.  They tucked their 4 small children into bed and went to town on the fireplace.  This project took about 3 hours to complete.  

Here's what they used:
1.  latex paint (Sherwin Williams Cashmere Paint~Medium Lustre~Luminous White)
2.  water
3.  a paint brush
4.  a rag





Here's how they did it...



First, they removed the wood mantle.  Then, using a mixture of equal parts of latex paint and water, one of them applied it to the bricks with a paintbrush while the other followed behind with a rag removing the access.







After one application, they were happy with the results.  You can use multiple coats (by repeating the process) depending on the coverage you prefer.  The white wash technique allows the variation in the color of the bricks to show through.  Brick is extremely porous and absorbs paint unevenly, which is a good thing in this example.  It created a beautiful, aged finish full of character.  All brick is different, if possible, my advice is to spot test this technique on your brick material in an inconspicuous area prior to tackling this project.  This will insure that you will be happy with the results. Sarah and EJ spot tested under their mantle. 










If your mantle cannot be removed and your intention is not to paint it, you may want to cover it with plastic and tape to prevent drips.









I apologize if you were waiting for a long, drawn out, step by step tutorial.  This project is too simple and easy for me to complicate.  If you are a fan of intimidating, stressful, complicated, multi-step, time-consuming, DIY projects that require a ton of special supplies and mad skills, this isn't the project for you. 





EJ and Sarah, thanks for letting me share your project.
Once again, you guys have done a phenomenal DIY job. 



For information on my affordable design services, please click here. 

104 comments:

  1. The fireplace looks fantastic and it sounds super easy. Great transformation. I love the new curtains and the raised rods (hope they pop some finials on the rod ends soon). The pillow next to the fireplace makes me nervous (fireman's wife).

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  2. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I am a big fan of simple! Your clients have done an amazing job.

    I have wondered if ASCP would work also, but haven't heard anyone saying that they have tried it.

    One fireplace rework coming up here soon.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  3. Really want to try this with my stone fireplace. My only concern is the soot stains. I noticed in their before pic they had them as well. Will the paint be easily cleaned when that happens? Just curious if you know. Thanks!

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    1. Amanda, good question. I would assume the cleaning process would be the same as regular unpainted brick. If anything, it could always be touched up with more paint down the road. Thanks for your comment. Best, Sarah

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    2. I was planning to redo my fire place like this soo glad I found this for the solution
      all I had found was the bricka-new kit which is $200.00 I was trying to afford it- but surely can afford this. I am going to try
      this real soon-only concern, my fire place has a coat of polyurethane on it will this work over that?

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    3. Where can I buy those curtains?

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  4. Their room is stunning and fireplace so much better. I also love the drapes. Hugs, Marty

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  5. I can't believe the difference! And for something so simple.... Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Holy Cats! I'm so happy you posted the how-to. I so want to do this in our basement. Thank you so much, it looks AMAZING!

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  7. Congratulations, Sarah - I KNOW painting brick is a pain in the behind! Great results (as always) Thanks for sharing - have a great Monday - Jalon

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  8. this convinces me to do it! We have a brick wall in the master bedroom at our lake house. I want to paint the room a light gray and doing this whitewash to the red brick wall will look fabulous! Great timing on your post. I am so lucky to be a reader of yours!

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    1. I am the lucky one, SJN to have readers like you! Thanks for stopping by! Sarah

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  9. Oh my gosh, this turned out beautifully. In my last home, I painted my rock fireplace with a solid ivory paint, rather than a wash. It looked better than before but not natural enough for my tastes. This, however,still looks like natural rock, but in a nice neutral palette. Great job, homeowners! Thanks for sharing it, Sarah. ~Keri, A Pop of Pretty

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  10. Love the fireplace - do you think the same process would work on a tiled backsplash? It is a porous, natural tile that is the wrong color for the granite countertop.

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    1. AWalker, great question. I would try it in an inconspicuous area and see if you like it. I don't see why it wouldn't work however, I have never attempted this. The thing that worries me is the potential oil build up from years of cooking that may exsist on your backsplash. It may resist paint. Not sure, just a thought.
      Thanks for the question,
      Sarah

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  11. Do you have to clean or prep the brick first? How?

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    1. Sara325, I don't believe they took any special steps to prepare. It wouldn't hurt to clean the surface though. I would check with your local hardware/paint supplier to see if they sell a product specifically for brick. I would also be sure to wait a few days after cleaning to paint just to be sure the brick is dry.
      Thanks for your question!
      Sarah

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    2. Dusted ours with a microfiber cloth. For bricks closest to firebox, added a bit of water to the cloth to clean off visible ash. Worked very well with very little water so the bricks dried quickly.

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  12. We have a red brick chimney going through our attic we are renovating, we were thinking of painting it white but this is even more perfect! Thank you for sharing!

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  13. love this! we just moved into a house that had a red brick fireplace but they painted it completely white. i'm not in love with it. do you think i could do something like this to add some more depth to it? love your blog!!

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  14. I love this! Just featured your post over at my Trash to Treasure Decorating blog.

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  15. Gorgeous results! Shared the link on my FB page. I'm also in love with the new curtains in the after photo's. Are they custom or can I find them somewhere, they'd be perfect in my dining room :) Thanks for your blog, love it!!!

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  16. Thanks to your blog, my husband and I white washed our chicago brick fireplace yesterday!! Great idea, it looks great! Thanks for the inspiration!!! It was quick transformation but such a major change! Thank you so much!

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  17. Wow what a difference! I love it and I also love the new curtains. Please share if they are available somewhere, I would love to have them for my living room. I just started reading your blog and I am really enjoying it. Thanks!! :-)

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  18. Sara:
    Just found your blog on Pinterest and love it. Do you think this would work on exterior brick? Renovating a house and was going to paint the brick but would love this much more. Thoughts?

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  19. Would this work on the exterior of the house as well? We have a red brick chimney that comes all the way down the side of our house, and it drives me crazy.

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  20. Is it crazy to ask but would this possibly work on exterior brick?

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  21. How many gallons of paint did you use?

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    1. My fireplace is larger than the one pictured. It took a few ounces, not gallons, because you cut by half with water.

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  22. I have a red brick facing on my kitchen backsplash and above the cabinets. I was going to paint these bricks as they do not look good with my new granite countertop. I love the way this fireplace looks but I have no black bricks in my wall, just red. Do you think I could paint a few bricks with black wash and then overwash with the lighter color to get the depth of color your clients got?

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  23. I was so inspired, I woke up yesterday, had a cup of coffee and white washed our fireplace. It looks amazing. Thanks for publishing the pictures. Our fireplace looked just like this one in the picuture. I only used 1 1/2 cups paint to 1 1/2 cup water. Now I'm ready to find something that needs to be painted white. Thanks again!

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  24. Looks so great! Do you paint the grout too? Or try and avoid it? Thanks :)

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  25. Where are the curtains from? They are super cute!!

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  26. WOULD LIKE TO TRY THIS ON MY FIREPLACE BUT I DONT LIKE THE COLOR OF MY CURRENT GROUT.DO YOU PAINT THE GROUT LINE ALSO? IF NOT DO YOU HAVE SUGGESTION FOR THAT?

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  27. AH I definetly know what my weekend has in store for me and my hubby! I was lost in what i would do with my ugly red fireplace! Thanks so much for sharing your talent and ideas! So excited to get started!!!!

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  28. I love the way this turned out! I attempted to duplicate on my sunporch but my brick drank up every last drop of paint. It looked like I had not painted at all after three costs. I think they probably started with sealed brick...my happy mixture turned out to be 95% paint, 5% water. Heads up.

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    1. Kristin, Yes, some brick is more pourous than others. I am glad you were able to tweak the mixture to work for you. Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Could we do this with our bricks outside? Looks fantastic!

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  30. Hi there, I don't have any personal experiences using this technique on outdoor brick. My advice would be to try it in an inconspicuious location first. I would also use an outdoor paint. It wouldn't hurt to talk to your local paint professional for a product recommendation specifically for outdoor brick. Best of luck! Sarah

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  31. Oh my gosh! What an amazing transformation! That brick is absolutely gorgeous!! If I ever have a red brick fireplace, I am SO doing this. I am so, so envious! :)

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  32. Just wondering if you paint the grout or leave it. My husband saw the pics and already has the mantel off ready to go.

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  33. Beautiful! I love the new paint color and curtains!! Do you have the paint color and any info on the curtains?

    Beautiful!!

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  34. This is amazing! Its genius! I want to do ours but im worried because the fireplace brick is more of a smooth tile texture instead if the rough texture and its all the same color red. So I feel like it would all just be white. What do you think?

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  35. This looks like a great idea and I would like to try it but what about the grout? There are a lot of questions about if it was painted separately but no answers. Thanks.

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    1. Anonymous, yes, the grout was covered during the painting process. In the photos you can see how it was covered during the paint application. Thanks for stopping by. Best, Sarah

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    2. By covered, you mean covered with paint, right? Or masked off? While it looks to me like your customers painted theirs with the whitewash, for ours, we tried to avoid the grout and used a cheap artist's brush the width of the grout to water down and disperse the bit of paint that got on the grout, sometimes dabbing with a rag as well. We also tried whitewashing the grout in a hidden area, but the contrast with the grout was too stark and the paint wasn't absorbed there like it was on the bricks.

      The outcome is just beautiful. Took me a long time to get up my nerve to do this, but the room feels so much lighter now. So glad we did.

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  36. Curious. I have a wood burning stove surrounded by the fake looking brick made from some kind of flame-retardant metal. It's a smooth surface. How could I paint that to look good. The color scheme looks horrible and you see it first thing when you walk in the front door! The WBS is black. Thanks!

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  37. I was wondering, once you white wash brick can you ever remove the paint to bring it back to the natural state? Thanks!

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  38. My question is, do I use white paint on the bricks if the trim around the fireplace and the trim in the rest of the room is an antique white? Will it look ok if I have the two shades of white? I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Thanks for the tips and I love this fireplace.

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    1. Hey Roberta, Great question...it's totally ok to mix whites in a space. If you want to be safe, use the antique white for the bricks, that's a sure-fire way to know it will flow with the rest of your home. Have fun! Sarah

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    2. Roberta, in my experience with this project, the color of the bricks will show through a bit, so it's hard to predict the exact tone of the final project. My fireplace has a hidden portion which was nice for testing. The lighting across my wide fireplace is uneven, which gives even more color variation and interest. While the other whites in my room are pretty white and I used untinted luminous white paint, the fireplace tones are quite different from the white in the rest of the room, and it still looks great together.

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  39. Love it...my mother in law and I did it today on my new homes fireplace. My husband wanted to rip out the brick and replace it!!! I'm so glad we didn't. We bought only a quart of paint and it was plenty.

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  40. Did anyone ever find a link to the fabric the drapes were made from? Even the name of the fabric would be a big help. I'm doing my fireplace tomorrow with this technique and love the color scheme. In fact my fireplace is exactly like the one pictured here. If anyone has a link to the wall color or drapes it would save my poor old fingers as I've now been scouring the internet for 2 hours trying to find this lovely fabric.

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  41. My husband commented the other day that it was time to paint our red brick fireplace. I saw this on pinterest yesterday and completed it today. It looks great!

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  42. We recently did the white wash to our brick fireplace and love it! One question, can someone tell me about he mantle shelf? type of wood? demensions? finish?

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  43. This could be my living room! Seriously! All the way down to the dog! I have been wanting to paint our fireplace forever...but hubby knows I change my mind and decor so often and thinks I will get tired of it. I am showing him this tonight! I really can't believe that this before pic was not taken of my house! The mantel, wood floor...wow is all I can say...and that it looks beautiful!

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  44. Wow! This turned out great! My mantel is painted black.... Wonder if i could still "wash" my brick??

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  45. Beautiful! I painted my mantel black (was brown wood) wonder if the white wash would look good?

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  46. Did this this weekend, and it came out beautifully. Our fireplace is wider and in a smaller room, and the dark red brick was overpowering. The grout is more of a taupe, and the whitewash was too stark in contrast, so we tried to keep the paint off the grout. When it inevitably got on a bit, we used a cheap artist brush about the width of the grout lines to add water to spread and blend it, sometimes also dabbing with a rag to remove the extra watery paint. FYI, for hard to remove mantels, leave a tall kindergartner in the room unattended. Kindergartner pull-ups are just the thing to break the bond between mantel and support bricks.

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  47. I love this! I actually did it to my fireplace and am very happy with the results. Where are the curtains from? I absolutly love them!

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  48. Just love it. Has anyone attempted to paint a few bricks black for variety then do the white wash?

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  49. The drapery fabric is Robert Allen Basquiat Teak. JoAnn Fabrics carries it in their stores (at least at my local store) and on-line. The mantel is a dark wood - dimensions are 8' feet long, 7" inches deep and 5" inches tall. It was original to the house when we purchased it. It looks like someone constructed it out of simple pieces of wood and stained it. We are still loving the whitewash and are so happy with the change and how easy/cheap it was to do!

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  50. What kind of dog is Zeke?

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  51. I love the look and want to do! How does it hold up? Do you think the paint fades or would have to be redone down the road?

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  52. My fireplace is more stone (unattractive stone) than brick. Do you think this process would work as well on the stone?

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  53. Hello, I love this! I was wondering If this process would work the same on a large stone fireplace as well as it seems to work on bricks? My fireplace is a combination of dark gray, tan and brown stones, and I would love to change it. And I assume I should stay away from the grout with paint? Thanks.

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    1. Hi there, I don't have any personal experiences using this technique on stone. My advice would be to try it in an inconspicuious location first. It wouldn't hurt to talk to your local paint professional for a product recommendation specifically for your material. Best of luck! Sarah

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  54. I saw your tutorial pinned on Pinterest and am so glad! My husband and I did it to our mostly red/orange brick fireplace 2 months ago and could not be happier with the result. It completely lightens up what was a dark wall and looks so natural. I put 2 coats on the red bricks since they looked a little pink after one coat, and only needed 1 coat for the dark (black?) bricks. It was messy because of the water and took us about 4 hours. Thank you so much.

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  55. Like so many others, I saw this on pinterest and my husband and I had to do this the next day. it turned out wonderfully. thank you!

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  56. Have you had any issues this winter with fireplace heat causing the paint to peel?

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    1. Hi anonymous, great question. The fireplace still looks amazing, no peeling. Best, Sarah

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  57. This was an awesome project, Sarah. Not sure if anyone asked above, but could this process work on a very rough, porous pale creamy yellow colored brick? Also, the hearth is multi-colored slate (some black, gray and burgundy colors). Also, on a similar note, what do you advise for painting old dark paneling -- It is above the dark wood mantle and on all the surrounding walls. This room really needs an UPDATE!! Thanks so much!! ~ Linda D.

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  58. This looks great. I just whitewashed my fireplace and used watered down primer because I had a 5 gallon bucket laying around. Where did these curtains come from? I love them!

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  59. Do you have any results with a stone fireplace whitewashed? I want to
    try that.

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  60. What type of rag did you use to wipe off the extra paint? I'm having a fear of the rag snagging on the brick & having to pick off the little pieces before it dries.

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  61. Hi there! Love your work! Can you provide any info on those amazing drapes? Thank you!

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  62. Followed your advice and it turned out fantastic! Emailed you the before and after. Thanks for the advice!

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  63. Great instruction--
    I'm going to do this to my chimney, which is located in my small seaside-decor bathroom. The hardest part will be stripping the plaster and tile off first. If you have suggestions, I welcome them!
    It's a great look and so easy!
    Marilyn
    Parma, Ohio

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  64. Did you use a dry rag or wet rag to wipe off the excess paint? We are fixing up our house to see it and I plan on doing this to our fireplace in the next few day.

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  65. I am wondering if I can do this on my seventies style brown rock? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank You

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  66. I am wondering if this can be done on the brown seventies type rock. Which our fireplace is made of. Any advice is appreciated. Thank You

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  67. I am going to do this for sure. I have already sanded off most of the black paint and white paint so my bricks wouldn't look so checkerboard. But this is the rest of the solution I've been looking for-thanks!! Others may like my idea to sand that black paint off. I did it by hand with coarse sand paper and it was messy but not difficult

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  68. So the whitewashing of red brick turned out fabulous. Now, any thoughts on how you whitewash in reverse? Would it be called 'darkwash'? I have a totally white brick fireplace (virgin brick/no paint) and I want to darken up some of the bricks to give it more contrast like the example shown here vs. keeping the plain all-white facade.

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  69. Hey! Fantastic tutorial. I have a quick question about those "black" bricks. What are they? Have they been painted black? Or are they actually dark brick material? I love the way the fireplace came out as a whole but I dont like the dark bricks, so I was wondering if I could sand them off first (if they are painted), or maybe some other solution?

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  70. Ok....I just bought a house with brick floors in the kitchen....would love to whitewash them like the fireplace....I wonder if it would work and last??? Please help.

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    1. Hi! I have never used this technique on floors. I would definetly speak to a paint supply professional for a product recommendation and I would absolutely test your technique in an inconspicious location before tackling the entire floor. Thanks, Sarah

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  71. I can't tell from the pictures...did they white wash the mortar between the joints of the bricks too? Thanks for sharing the project, definitely confirms for me that I want to do this with our fireplace!

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  72. Hi,

    We recently bought a home.The BRICKS OVER MY fireplace are not red. They are kind of dark color. Will I get the same look by using same technique?? Please Help?

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  73. Hi, just wondering can I get the sane look using same technique. The color of my bricks are not red. They are dull kind of black please Help??

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! If your brick is black, you probably will not get the exact same result as this example. You may have more of a gray look in the end. My suggestion is to find an inconspicuous spot to test the technique first. Thanks!

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  74. Hey found your website and decided to take the plunge and do it on my fireplace...see my post here:
    http://www.easysite.com/lifewithjoya
    Thanks for the inspiration and instruction- It was way easier than I had expected. Very happy with my results :)
    -Rebecca Joya

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  75. Perfect compromise. Mu husband agreed to the white washing idea. Yess!!! One year feud ended. Wooo hoo. Good by ugly mismatched brick.

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  76. Does anyone know how they attach their mantle to the brick supports? When we bought our house our fireplace had no mantle and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to just rest wood across the brick brackets. Thanks!

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  77. I was wondering if you have to seal the brick first.
    thanks!

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  78. Followed your directions it looks great. We have an old house that had interesting brick but ugly color. Thanks so much

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  79. I took inspiration from your finished fire place, but my brick was a even darker red, I had to steam clean it, then let it dry 24 hours. I diluted the paint per your instruction painted and then used a wet terry toweling to rag roll paint off, I repainted some of the individual bricks and then rag rolled them a second time......... I love the color and the visual effect, it actually makes my room look larger..... no black hole of darkness, just a softer more pleasing look.............Thanks!

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  80. hi my morter is black not gray or white i had it dyed thirtynine years ago .can't wait to change it.

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  81. It was so easy and such a change...love it! Thanks for sharing!

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  82. Hi! I have an all red brick fireplace and want to try white-washing it, BUT I'm afraid my bricks don't have enough color variation to give the same look. Would it work to paint some of the red bricks black before white-washing and then maybe apply a sponge coat of brown or taupe paint to some of the bricks afterward to give more depth on the finished product. Has anyone tried this??

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  83. I have a very silly question.....my husband and I just bought a house that has a brick fireplace and the bricks sticking out for a mantel, but no mantel. I love your mantel....but how does it mount to the fireplace? Oh,and we plan on white washing ours too.....the living room is tiny, and the brick just overwhelms it. I bet this would make a HUGE difference. Thanks for the before and after pictures!

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  84. Did my 107-year old brick fireplace ugly red brick fireplace today. It looks great! I also used wet terry cloth to clean off some of the paint. Some of the brick was so absorbent I had to use a wet brush to lighten it a bit but the overall result is something I am very happy with.

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  85. Am going to do this to our fireplace. It looks like the grout was not painted, as it looks gray. So did you just paint the bricks? Beautiful job

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  86. I have a fireplace we are wanting to re-do but it is a light almost cream brick. Do you think something like this would work on it?

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