To Paint your outdated exterior brick chimney or not to? It is a really good question. One you may have asked yourself if you have a older home featuring that classic red brick.
This DIY exterior fireplace painting project is affordable, easy, and doesn’t take very much time.
This project does not come without risk – so PLEASE make sure you do your research before hand. One – you can’t undo paint on brick. Two – brick is a natural porous material you do need to take certain things into consideration before hand.
Because I am not an expert on brick AS A MATERIAL by any means, I don’t want to go into detail about those things here! So if you have done the research, are confident you want to paint your brick and are ready to pull the trigger; here you go.
I did a DIY exterior fireplace painting project around 5 years ago now. At the time it was a way for my husband and I to modernize the look of our little bungalow. Without the hassle and cost of removing or re-finishing the chimney with newer brick. Our home also had cute little shutters we had already painted grey.
Our chimney is actually non-functional as it was never built right to begin with! So the fireplace it is attached to never was used.
Regardless I love how it turned out and highly recommend it as an affordable way to update the curb appeal of your home.
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How affordable is a DIY Brick painting project?
Extremely! The supplies needed are minimal. Ultimately it does require a time investment; but still easy to tackle in a single weekend with some help.
If you don’t have some of the more expensive supplies mentioned below; see if you can rent them from a room rental company or borrow from a friend/neighbour. Such as the pressure washer and paint sprayer.
The biggest cost will be directly related to how large your exterior brick chimney is and how many colors of paint you want on the bricks.
Size of our chimney: around 2 feet deep (x2 sides) 4 feet wide and 13-14 feet tall. The project probably cost us around $200 including the paint sprayer (not the pressure washer which we already owned).
What supplies will you need to paint brick fireplaces?
To complete the project as I will outline below (based off how I did it) you will need the following supplies…
- Plastic drop sheet
- Strong Exterior Painters tape: if you use something like duck tape it MAY possibly leave a residue behind on your home
- Large sponges – roughly the size of a single brick is ideal
- Paint sprayer: We have a Wagner one similar to this one here. But our model was bought 5 years ago and is a bit outdated now. But this brand was the most highly recommended in the hardware store for our painting needs.
- Chip paint brush: have a cheap one one hand just in case you need to touch up a few spots
- Several gallons of paint of your color choice (I will outline more about the paint we used below)
- Exterior primer in white or grey
- Plastic or paper disposable plates
- Step ladder
- Pressure washer
- Wire scrub brush – we did not need one as there was not any organic material build up. Moss, etc may benefit from one
Some supplies you should get for yourself
- Safety goggles to protect your eyes from debris when pressure washing
How do I decide what color to paint my exterior brick chimney?
Well you will want to take a couple of things into account! Such as…
- Exterior of your home (we have white siding, so we had tons of options for brick paint colors that wouldn’t clash)
- Other homes in your area (Such as: Do you have certain rules with home owners associations that you need to follow?)
- Your homes style: Is your home already modern, are you trying to modernize it? Is it more of a rustic or country feel?
- Don’t go painting the brick in a shade that totally doesn’t make sense for the look your trying to achieve!
- Do you want a single color or do you want to replicate the look of brick (like we did) with having varying shades of one color?
- Do you want the fireplace to blend in more, or really stand out and be an accent feature of your home’s exterior?
- What do you want the final color of your mortar to be (the material in between the bricks)
If you are crushing on the newest whitewash painted brick look (gorgeous) – definitely check out this company Romabio as they specialize in breathable paints to accomplish this look. This look would be gorgeous on a stand alone exterior brick chimney as well as an entire home.
We chose to go with shades of grey. We were going to be updating our windows and getting new window trim which was going to be grey.
Our home is small so we felt fine having a color scheme that would make the fireplace stand out against the neutral white siding of the house.
Our color choices: white primer (sprayed on), medium grey basecoat (sprayed on), dark charcoal grey, & lighter elephant grey, as our 2 accent colors sponged on after.
Grey basecoat (med grey): Subtle Shadow D36-3-0534-4 CLRHOM
Premium Acrylic Exterior Paint: Matte Base
Accent one (deep charcoal grey): Zen Retreat D36-2-0535-3 CLRHOM
850 ml can
Premium Acrylic Exterior Paint: Velvet base
Accent two (light grey): Smoky Tone D37-3-0541-0 CLRHOM
850 ml can
Premium Acrylic Exterior Paint: Velvet base
How to paint your exterior brick chimney/fireplace
- Take pressure washer and thoroughly wash the brick. Remove any debris, grass, dirt etc with just water and a normal soap.
- Use a stiff brush or wire brush to scrub off any stuck on organic debris if needed
- Let it dry completely (a day or so as brick is porous)
- Get your plastic drop sheet and tape it up around the fireplace to protect the rest of your home from paint overspray. Whether you have siding, stucco or another building material. If you have stucco, the painters tape may not work. We have siding and it was quite hard to get that to stick even
- Follow paint sprayer instructions to assemble and fill up with primer properly. Take care to dilute the paint as per instructions if required.
- Distribute an even coat of your base primer paint layer. Use gentle sweeping motions from side to side. Working from the top of the chimney down to the ground. Take special care to completely cover the mortar between the bricks.
- Painting brick properly takes time and care to fill all the texture and crevices fully
- Let the primer dry completely
- Next you will paint with your main color. This is the color that you want the MAJORITY of the fireplace to be. OR ALTERNATIVELY if you are only painting your fireplace ONE single color, this would be it!
- This is also the color your mortar will end up being, because your spraying this color on. You will not be painting the mortar again after.
- Apply this main color in the same manner you did with the primer. If your color is a DIFFERENT color than your primer: be extra cautious to cover every nook and cranny so you don’t have any primer showing through anymore.
- Again let this dry completely. Applying another coat after the appropriate drying time indicated on your paint can.
- Let the second coat dry fully. If you are painting the chimney ONE uniform color only then congratulations. You are now done. If not continue on…
How to paint multi-colored shades for a natural brick variation pattern
- Take your accent paint colors, shake and stir really well
- Pour a small amount of each color onto a separate disposable plate.
- Cut your sponges with scissors to the same size of a single brick. You will need one sponge for each accent color. Get the sponges wet then wring water out.
- Pull up a picture from the internet of a normal brick fireplace. Note how there is not a pattern to the varying colors in the brick lay. That is trick to the following steps. DO NOT overthink your placement of the accent colors. Just take it slow, look at the whole picture often and remember it is SO easy to fix any mistakes.
- You are going to sponge each of the 2 accent colors all over the fireplace. In random spots. Simply dip your sponge in, wipe off some excess paint then press onto a single brick
- Alternate the AMOUNT of paint and the PRESSURE with which you sponge the paint on as you go around the chimney. It is okay to have some with less paint than others of that same accent color. Additionally it is even better to have some bricks with a mottled look (seeing some of the main sprayed on color within the sponged on color) because this adds to the natural look of the finished project
- Step back often to take a look at the entire fireplace as a whole. Add more paint in each accent color as you see fit.
- Leave the MAJORITY of the bricks in your original main color
- Now you will begin to add EVEN MORE character to this project by mixing your accent colors together.
- Dip a sponge into BOTH of your accent colors then sponge onto a single brick. Keep sponging onto a new brick until you run out of paint. This makes a really nice gradient affect. With each brick having a varying amount of the two paint colors transferred onto it.
- Keep doing this with the mixing of the two accent colors until you are happy with the finished look!
Congratulations. You have now finished this project and can enjoy your newly updated outdoor brick chimney for years to come!!
Will this also work on exterior brick walls?
Short answer – yes. This project does not require many tools, and is a suitable low experience project for homeowners of all ages.
Use this exact same process to achieve a natural variated brick pattern on a brick wall, an exterior brick chimney, or even an interior brick fireplace. In whatever color or mix of colors you want.
How many hours will this project take?
Of course this will vary greatly depending on the size of the anticipated project. Entire brick houses will take an extremely long time, and may be something to leave up to the professionals. However, if this is a minor exterior project and your chimney brick does not have damage; or hairline cracks in need of repair then you should be good to go.
In general – to account for drying time between coats I would say to give yourself an entire weekend for a outdoor chimney, or a small amount of accent brick wall on the bottom of your home.
How will the paint hold up over time?
It has now been 5 years! My paint has not faded, or washed off. This may be because…
- The chimney is actually not used so therefore we did not need to use paint designed to withstand extreme heat
- We live in Canada: our summer’s don’t get crazy hot which might also influence how the paint holds up. So the average yearly temperatures in your area might influence things
- Some small chips are appearing around the base of the chimney in the paint and the brick itself from my weedwacker. I just noticed that this last summer. Very hard to notice though!
- The quality of product you decide to use will also influence it’s durability. In my experience using a general run of the mill paint form our hardware store held up just fine.
- Using this method I outlined above of not worrying about each of the bricks nooks and crannies being covered with the ‘accent’ brick color – actually results in it wearing better of the years because of the imperfect finished look.
Till next time,