How to paint a fireplace

Spruce up your living space by painting a fireplace surround in the perfect shade for your home.

Updated 30 May 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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White painted fireplace

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Key steps

  1. 1

    Protect the floor and walls surrounding the fireplace.

  2. 2

    Clean and dry the fireplace, and fill any cracks.

  3. 3

    If the fireplace is marble, sand it down.

  4. 4

    Choose an appropriate primer and paint for the surface.

  5. 5

    Apply the primer and leave to dry.

  6. 6

    Apply the paint in layers.

Giving your fireplace a makeover is a great way to update the centrepiece of your room. Not sure where to start? We’ll take you through how to paint a fireplace surround and what kind of paint to use, whether you’re going to paint marble fireplace surrounds or those made from stone or brick. Learn how to protect the walls and floor from drips, and how to clean before you paint, too. Pick your colour, pull on some old clothes, and have fun!

One good trick for how to paint brick fireplace surrounds neatly? Use a range of brush sizes. Small, medium and large brushes will get into different sized areas.

First things first: protecting walls and floor before painting a fireplace surround

The first step in painting a fireplace surround is to prepare the area properly, whether you want to paint marble fireplace surrounds, or those made from brick of stone. Carry out these key protection steps first:

  1. 1

    Remove everything surrounding the fireplace, like screens and grates.

  2. 2

    Mask the area around the fireplace surround with painter’s tape.

  3. 3

    Lay drop cloths or tarps around the fireplace. If you do spill any paint, check out our tips on how to remove paint from carpet.

Preparing the surrounds before you paint the fireplace

That’s the protection work done, but it’s not time to start painting yet. You’ll want to clean the fireplace thoroughly and fix any cracks. This is particularly the case if you plan to paint the fireplace white, as little marks could easily show up.

  1. 1

    Clean the surface with water and an all-purpose cleaner for brick/stone surrounds, or a solvent-based cleaner for marble surrounds. Use a lint-free towel to dry marble, or leave brick/stone to air-dry completely.

  2. 2

    Anything bigger than a hairline crack will need to be repaired. For marble, use epoxy filler. For brick/stone, use a paintable acrylic latex caulk. Leave it to set and dry.

With the preparation done, we can now move onto how to paint a fireplace.

How to paint a fireplace surround: choosing the right paint

To know how to paint a stone fireplace effectively, or how to paint a marble fireplace successfully, you’ll need to know what type of paint to use. This is key to a good result.

  • For brick/stone: Latex paint is more durable on stone, brick, and rough surfaces. This might be paint designed for exterior masonry or stucco.

  • For marble: Semi-gloss or high-gloss paint is a good match for a glossy marble surround. You’ll want to follow the instructions on the tin to thin the paint.

How to paint a brick fireplace or a stone fireplace

For rough stone/brick surrounds, you’ll find it easiest to use roller covers with a nap of at least an inch, to get in the crevices. A heavy duty, five-wire roller frame will stand up to the task better than a plastic frame. As for brushes, synthetic bristles work best with latex paint.

  1. 1

    First apply a primer to seal the porous surface material. Work from the top to the bottom with your roller. Get into tight crevices with your brushes.

  2. 2

    Once the primer is completely dry, use a roller to apply paint from top to bottom.

  3. 3

    Use two coats, and finish with a roll over to even out the coverage.

That’s how to paint a stone fireplace, but marble is a little more complicated.

How to paint a marble fireplace

For marble, there’s one more prep step: sanding. As the glossy surface is smooth, you’ll want to use 220-grit sandpaper to roughen it up. That’ll help primer and paint adhere. After sanding, wipe down with a tack cloth to remove any dust, then:

  1. 1

    Apply a thin layer of primer designed for glossy/shiny surfaces.

  2. 2

    After the first coat has dried, apply a second coat of primer.

  3. 3

    Once that’s dried, use 220-grit sandpaper again, and wipe with a tack cloth.

  4. 4

    Apply semi/high-gloss paint in a thin coat.

  5. 5

    Once it’s dry, sand it, wipe clean, and apply a second thin coat.

  6. 6

    You’ll want to apply at least three thin coats of paint.

  7. 7

    Wait for at least 24 hours after the final coat has dried before lighting your fire.

Whichever type of surface you’re painting, pat yourself on the back for sprucing it up yourself. Once you’ve cleaned up carefully, rinsed off your roller covers and brushes, and removed your painter's tape at a 45-degree angle, you can stand back and admire your work.

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