Painting a Fireplace & Surround: Expert How To Guide
Painting your fireplace surround yourself can be an inexpensive, easy and rewarding thing to do. Especially if you want to refresh a room in an older house without pulling out a beautiful surround, or want to give yourself a statement interior makeover without breaking the bank.
Whilst you might be excited to get going with your new project, when painting fireplaces you need to make sure that you’re choosing the right tools, the right type of paint, and understand the painting process for your fireplace surround. To ensure the longevity and quality of your fireplace painting, you need to familiarise yourself with the best procedures for before, during and after painting - so that when you’ve finished painting your fireplace you know it can stand the heat.
1. Selecting the right paint for your surround
You have to ensure that the paint type you choose is suitable for indoor use, heat resistant and has the right colour and paint finish to achieve your desired look. You'll find that latex paint is the all-around best choice because of its heat resistance, durability and easy to clean features.
For a brick fireplace surround, you'll want to select a heat-resistant, latex paint that is rated to withstand high temperatures for a brick surface surround. But unless you intend to use your fireplace exclusively for display purposes, you must NOT paint the actual inside of your brick fireplace/the firebox with this paint. For that, you would need specialist fireplace paint - which is usually flat black.
For a wooden fireplace surround, the best paints for a dramatic finish on a wooden surface are chalk paints or semi-gloss enamel paints that are specifically created for wood. However, heat-resistant latex paint is also suitable.
For a marble fireplace surround, either a flat, single colour chalk paint or latex paint is the best.
2. Preparing your space for painting
The biggest danger that comes with painting your own fireplace surround is getting any flicks or spills of paint on the surrounding wall, floor, furniture or carpets. This is why it is essential that you protect furniture and flooring with sheets or protective plastic. And for the wall, apply tape around borders and anywhere you don't want the paint to touch.
Top Tip: If you're worried about being a messy painter, try a few different strips of tape around the edges rather than one to give yourself more room for error when painting.
For safety, you need to only paint in a well-ventilated room with windows and doors open as paint fumes can be toxic. You should also have safety goggles ready whilst painting to prevent any flicks of painting from getting in your eye as this could lead to a lot of irritation and require medical attention. For best protection, a dust mask or other PPE should be worn when painting.
3. Prepping and Cleaning the fireplace
No matter what material your fireplace is, making sure that your surround is clear of residue, dirt or old paint is integral to attaining a clean finish and ensuring that the paint sticks. For all fireplace types, a good first step is using soapy water and a damp cloth to wipe down the fireplace surround before you begin prepping and priming the material.
For a brick surround, use a wire brush to scrub away any loose residue, dust or dirt from the brick surface so that you can begin to prep cleanly. After this, to prime the brick, you should choose an oil-based, stain-blocking primer applied with a roller for the best and most even coverage.
For a marble surround, sand down the fireplace first to remove any lumps and bumps. Then, ensure that you select a primer that is designed to be compatible with a gloss surface.
For a wooden surround, it's extra important to thoroughly prep the surface because exposed wood will quickly soak up excess paint resulting in a lot of wasted product. Not only does choosing a wood-purpose paint primer help this, but it also fills in any cracks or subtle changes in the wood grain so that you have an even finish after painting.
4. Painting the fireplace surround
The key to painting a fireplace surround is not to rush it, you'll get a more even finish with fewer brush marks if you do multiple thin coats of paint and wait a sufficient time between coats to ensure that the paint is dry. Whilst you might be tempted to lash on one coat of paint thickly, it likely won't give you the high-standard finish we're aiming for.
Because of the fiddly nature of a lot of fireplace surround designs, we recommend using a brush for fireplace painting. This allows you to pay more attention to detail and gives you greater control over paint application than your would with a roller.