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Whitewashed Brick Fireplace

Smack dab in the middle of the largest wall of our great room is a fireplace. The brick was a reddish-orangey-brown color. (That’s right. It’s a real color.) Our house is mostly decorated in black, white and gray so this color was just not meshing very well. I love the warmth the brick provided and I thought whitewashing the whole area would still give us that, but mute the color a bit. Check out our Whitewashed Brick Fireplace!

Fireplace 3

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I was a bit hesitant to make this commitment because once you paint brick, it’s hard to reverse the process.

But one night when my husband was out of town and the kids were tucked cozily into their beds, I finally got up the courage to do it. You know what they say, “When the cat is away, the mouse will paint.” Or something like that.

Whitewashed Brick Fireplace

First, I prepped the area by removing all things I didn’t want to get paint on and covered the floor with a drop cloth. We have cathedral ceilings so I also pulled out our ladder to make sure I could reach the top.

Next, I combined my concoction of 1 part white paint to 1 part water in a five gallon bucket. Once mixed up, I transferred some to a handheld paint pail and up the ladder I went.

Fireplace 2
 

Starting at the top and working my way down, I brushed the paint onto the bricks and the grout. (This brush is awesome!) I worked in small sections. After I let the paint soak in a bit, I wiped off the excess with an old rag and moved onto the next section. I repeated these steps until the fireplace was complete. This was a very messy process, but maybe my clumsiness is partly to blame. I did drop the paint pail once, as you can see in this picture.

Fireplace 3
 

What do you think? I absolutely love the way the texture of the brick shows through the paint. One day, I am hoping to stain our mantel an ebony color to match the decor in the rest of the room. More on that later.

47 Comments

  • Lori @ A Bright and Beautiful Life

    OK. You’ve inspired me. Our basement fireplace has dark red-black brick that I have been wanting to paint for the longest time {13 years to be exact!} but was always too nervous to do it. White washing is so much prettier because the brick still shows through. Will any old white paint work? I have a couple of cans in the garage that I could put to good use now. Thanks tons and tons for making your fireplace be the guinea pig! Is there anything else I should know before I get started? Is there a lot of excess paint and is it necessary to it off?

    • Emily

      Thank you so much Lori! Any white paint show work just fine. I would recommend wiping the excess paint off. This is what allows the brick to show though and not have too much paint coverage. If you work in sections, then it will go pretty fast. The paint will soak into the brick a bit, so keep in mind it will look whiter as you are painting, than the end result will be. If you desire a whiter finish, once the brick is dry add a second coat. Please let us know if you try this. I would love to see pictures!

  • Rebekah

    I love the end result! I did something similar with my brick and toning down the brick was the perfect move. I am wondering how your mantle is attached to the brick corbels and how deep is your mantel? My fireplace is exactly like yours minus a mantel.

  • Nancy

    The fact that the shading of the brick still shows through, makes it just gorgeous. The texture would show even if it was solid paint but the whitewash allows the shading and therefore the integrity of the bricks to show through and look amazing! Very well done!

  • Asher

    Hi!

    We’ve just bought a 1930’s house and have a 30’s fireplace in recessed dark, thin, red brick. I’m not keen myself as the recession makes it look very 70’s.

    Do I whitewash it (which by the way looks gorgeous!) OR do I spend some money getting it repointed so the brickwork is flush? Then maybe wash over later?

    Any ideas/advice would be much appreciated! It’s all quite new for me.

    Asher x

    • Emily

      Thanks Laurelle! I only waited approximately 3-5 minutes per section before wiping. If it wasn’t quite white enough, I could just go over that section again until I achieved the desired color. Glad you stopped by!

  • Donna

    My fireplace bricks are entirely white (bought the house this way)! it is really boring, the mantle as well. I loved your whitewashed red brick and your entire website. What do you suggest? I was thinking of white washing with a gray / beige color and dabbing a darker color maybe use a chalk paint? It is a non-working fireplace.

    • Emily

      Donna, I think your ideas sound pretty good. That would change things up a bit and create some dimension.Let us know what you decide and how it turns out.

  • Daphne

    Hi Emily,
    I’m Daphne from Holland and i love your ‘new’ fireplace.
    I want to do that whit a whole wall in my new rented place (the owner thinks it’s oké)
    I want to ask you what kind of paint you used?
    Is it also possible whit thinned latex or do i need chalked paint?

  • Danielle Rackstraw

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for this great idea and concept. I have a similar fireplace with the same brick going up to the mantle, and I HATE the color which also now is so out of fashion. I wanted to tile OR ANYTHING ELSE the reddish brick, but this is by far batter and I’ll surely do this first.

    My thinking NOW [aside from wanting to know when my husband and his buddy’s were doing another river run for a week since I AM ALSO A “OH DID I TELL YOU I REMOVED THE WALL BETWEEN THIS ROOM AND THE NEXT ONE” or similar . . . my poor husband never knows what project I will have ready to go or totally done while he’s gone, and I’m in my 70’s and have always done this . . . I was thinking about your white wash on my bricks, painted mantle which is now solid oak, and then real barn wood from the top of the mantle to the ceiling.

    YOU SURELY INSPIRED ME . . . and I LOVE your instructions and spunk. THANK YOU.

  • Margy Baker

    I have been looking for weeks for a picture of exactly what I want to do to my fireplace. The room looks so dark with dark wood trim and little light. Yours is the only picture where the brick has come through to any real extent which is what I need to go with my farmhouse style house. Am anxious to try this with maybe a cream color to kind of soften it.
    Your site is now bookmarked for future ideas!
    Thank you for inspiring this 74-year-old on to greatness! LOLOL! Hope I don’t fall off the ladder.

  • Claire Hilliard

    Your fireplace looks exactly like mine, except mines still dark red brick. I want do this, my husbands not for it, but I think he will like the end result if it turns out anything like yours!! Its lovely. I am just a bit nervous, cause if I mess it up, paint is hard to remove, but I’m going for it!! Thank you for your post?

  • Claire Hilliard

    Your fireplace looks exactly like mine, except mines still dark red brick. I want do this, my husbands not for it, but I think he will like the end result if it turns out anything like yours!! Its lovely. I am just a bit nervous, cause if I mess it up, paint is hard to remove, but I’m going for it!! Thank you for your post?

  • Dawn Shea

    Beautiful whitewash! I love the texture and color and how so much of the original brick shows through. I think I’m finally ready to get up the gumption to take the same steps. Thank you for the great tutorial and insights!

  • Charlotte

    I love this. Our fireplace is almost identical and we are wanting to try this so while searching Pinterest I came across your picture and post. Your information has been great in all the comments. Can’t wait to start ( but plan for late summer ) Great job appreciate all your information !

  • Patricia

    I have seen maaaany posts and pics of whitewashed fireplaces. Yours is by far, the best one. It looks very natural, like what happens to some brick when exposed to time and the elements. I actually think dropping the paint made that area look more aged, more lived in. Great job, really nice.

  • Sheila Carlson

    Hi
    Can you use a cream paint to do this. We are scared that the white will be too stark. Our brick has very little character (very smooth) and the color is very uniform. Will it still work?

  • Jennifer

    My fireplace brick has a lacquer on parts of it still. Would this procedure work? Having this lacquer was one reason I was considering using a chalk paint to do a type of antiquing on the brick. What are your thoughts? I really like the way yours looks.

  • Erin

    The fireplace looks lovely! You’ve inspired me to do the same to our dated looking fireplace. I happen to have some white latex paint on hand, but it’s eggshell. Do you think that would work? Thanks!

  • Peggy Carlson

    I’ve been researching whitewashed fireplace images and studying techniques for months, trying to make sure I use the right method to get the result I’m looking for. Your project is the first I’ve seen that “speaks to me.” It looks great! Having experienced the messiness everyone refers to, perhaps you can weigh in on whether you believe using a sponge (a large, very porous one like tile contractors use, not the small cellulose ones we use to wash dishes) rather than a paint brush would lessen the mess.

    In your blog, you mention that you love the brush you’re using. What type of brush was it?

    Thanks!

    Peggy

  • Peggy Carlson

    Sorry, Erin. I just saw that the reference to the Purdy brush is a link — thanks — please ignore the part of my post that asks about the brush.

    Peggy

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