How to Refinish A Brick Fireplace

Do you have a dated red brick fireplace? I do! In fact, I had two but I painted them and I have zero regrets. I’m sharing all the details on how I painted each fireplace to modernize and brighten up the space.


I did a lot of research before bringing a paintbrush to the brick fireplace in our living room. My original plan was to white wash the brick but the previous owners had a pellet stove insert, glued to the brick with a thick, black adhesive. I considered replacing the insert, but we ended up getting an infrared electric stove. 

Prepare to Paint

To prepare the brick for paint, you’ll want to clean the brick surface. I used a solution of vinegar and water and a dollar store scrub brush. Rinse with clean water and since brick is a porous material, allow the brick to dry thoroughly. To remove adhesive glue or seals left behind from fireplace inserts, you may be successful with elbow grease. I tried Goo Gone on some of the smaller spots but ultimately used a chisel to gently remove a thick layer of adhesive. The adhesive left the brick discolored and that impacted the paint treatment that I could choose. It may be best to prep the surface and determine this speed bumps if you’re in a similar situation!

Old red brick fireplace prepped to be painted
Old red brick fireplace cleaned and prepped for paint.

Choose a Paint & Primer

I love picking paint colors. It is a choice that I am decisive about. When choosing paint colors, I also recommend doing a google or pinterest search of the paint color to see what it looks like in other places and spaces. It’s so hard to look at a small paint chip and visualize the paint. This trick really helps me to commit and it’s never let me down!


  • Killz Primer
  • Paint and Primer
  • Rustoleum Heat Resistant Paint
  • Masonry Roller
  • 2 inch trim brush
  • Drop cloth

Paint and Finish

Because brick is very porous, you’ll want to use a primer before you paint. I started with a coat of Killz primer made for brick surfaces. Use a masonry paint roller to apply to the bulk of your surface and a smaller 2 inch brush for the trim. Allow plenty of dry time between coats of primer and paint. You may apply a second coat of primer depending on your surface.

For the paint, I selected a paint + primer. If you’re painting anything on or in the fireplace box, you need to select a heat resistant or paint designed for high heat/fireplace. It should specifically say “high heat” and indicate that it’s safe for fireplace application. I used Rustoleum High Heat Spray Paint for one fireplace surround (pictured below).

White painted brick fireplace with black painted insert
I spray painted this old brass fireplace door with a matte black Rustoleum for High Heat. Make sure to use a paint designed for a fireplace!

Be sure to provide plenty of dry time and allow for proper ventillation when painting.

For my projects, I chose Sherwin Williams Naval for the brick surround of one fireplace. This particular fireplace no longer a wood burning unit.

The second fireplace that I refinished, I originally planned to white wash (pictured below). During the process, I realized I actually preferred the full coverage satin finish. This project was finished by painting the old brass with a fresh matte black and it really modernized the space.

White washed brick fireplace

My next project is to replace the mantel in each space with a simple, modern wood mantel to provide balance. Who knows, I may even build out around them! I’ll keep you posted here!

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