Once the sun has gone down, the chiminea can keep your home warm and cozy.
However, time takes its toll on the chiminea as it can wear down and start to corrode.
But instead of replacing it, you can simply repaint the surface with heat-resistant paint.
When it’s about picking the right paint for a clay chiminea, you will need to use paint that is best suited for stoves, ovens, and BBQs.
One such paint that I found helpful is Rust-Oleum Stove & BBQ Spray Paint which is heat-resistant, ultra-tough, and quick at drying.
Such paints can cover surfaces while resisting the effects of heat.
This means you can easily clean and repaint the surface of your clay or metal chiminea so that it will last for many years of use with a bit of cleaning and maintenance.
How to Paint a Clay Chiminea?
To properly paint your chiminea, you must go through a few steps.
The first is obtaining the correct type of heat-resistant paint to ensure protection for a long time.
You can choose from several different colors which will add to the décor of the porch or the location where the chiminea is placed.
Step 1 – Wash & Clean
Before you proceed, place drop cloths on the floor around the chiminea so that they catch all the drips.
Then you will need to thoroughly wash and clean your chiminea both inside and out.
A simple cleaning detergent combined with water and a sponge should do the trick.
You may want to use a brush first to clean away the loose debris before applying the detergent and water.
Step 2 – Sand
Use 80-grit sandpaper and run it across the chiminea.
Sanding all the areas that you are going to paint, helps the paint to stick to the surface.
Plus, it gets rid of any debris that has bonded with the clay or the metal surface. The goal is to smooth out the surface completely.
Step 3 – Primer
A primer that is brushed or sprayed-on will work.
But the spray-on primers are rather quick and easy, so you may get one to use. This assumes that the primer is heat resistant as well.
When spraying, make sure the primer covers the entire clay/pottery area that is to be painted.
A primer will seal the surface, which not only allows the paint to stick better but also prevents moisture from coming up from the surface to peel away the paint.
Step 4 – Paint
Once you have applied the primer, it’s time to add the heat-resistant paint.
One coat is generally enough. Be sure to paint the surface evenly and let it dry thoroughly. Check it and see if another coat of paint is needed.
Step 5 – Clear Coat Sealer
Once the paint is dry, add a coat of clear sealer which will make the chiminea easier to clean.
Curing and applying a sealer (like a wood sealer or an acrylic floor finish) to the outside of your chiminea also prevents cracks from forming when the pot is exposed to high temperatures.
Plus, it also keeps moisture from seeping into the clay.
So, it’s recommended that you reseal your chiminea at least once a month during the usage months.
Tips and Warnings
Do not paint air-drying clay chimenea that is already wet.
Since the clay piece will shrink while it dries, there is a greater chance for the color to chip and crack.
In addition, if you try to paint air-dry clay chimeneas that are sealed, the lock moisture into the clay; could lead to mold, cracks, or breakage down the road.
Can You Paint a Chiminea with Hammerite?
You can paint your metal chimenea with Hammerite High Heat paint. But it’s not the best option for clay, ceramic, or terracotta materials.
Hammerite Paint is specifically designed to be applied on high-temperature metal surfaces such as chimineas, fireplaces, fire surrounds, barbecues, boilers, radiators, engines, etc.
When used on metals, this Hammerite Metal Paint can even resist flaking, cracking, and rusting.
So, if you want to improve your cast iron chiminea’s aesthetics and durability, this can be the right formulation to choose.
When to Use Chiminea Again After Painting?
Once the chiminea is completely dry, you can use it again.
Between uses, it is recommended that you cover the chiminea to protect it from the elements.
As long as the flames are contained inside the bowl, the paint on the clay chiminea will last for a long time.
You can help the process by purchasing or creating firewood that is roughly one foot or slightly less in length.
You can even find such wood in many hardware or home improvement stores.
Few important things you need to remember while using a clay chiminea:
1- Never stack the chimineas, as you can easily damage them while doing so.
2- A very quick change in temperature can crack the clay chimenea (especially those made from terra cotta).
So you should avoid using water to put out the flames.
Instead, use a fire poker to turn over the sand and bury the embers. This will effectively put the flames out.
3- Compared to cast iron, clay chimineas are less dangerous.
Since their exterior does not get as hot as metal, there are fewer chances of severe skin burns or injuries if touched accidentally.
Plus, the clay material does not rust like iron and can be kept for years without worrying about natural elements like rain.
The only downside is clay can crack or break soon if handled carelessly.
If your chiminea has cracked, you can repair it by filling or sealing the cracks. When sealing, make sure you use a liquid crack sealer that’s designed for clay products.
Alternatively, you can get it painted and use it as a flowerpot in your backyard garden for decoration.
Maintenance Tips for Chiminea to Keep It In Good Condition
A little care will help your clay or metal chiminea last for a long time.
The paint will protect the clay or cast iron chiminea, but you will need to do a little maintenance from time to time.
Before using your chiminea for the season, wash it with mild dish soap, rinse it with water, and let it dry.
Remove the ashes and sand regularly and wash the chiminea when needed.
When not in use, cover the chiminea and bring it inside if possible.
Moving it carefully inside and then outside for the season will protect it from the elements.
However, you should get some assistance and use a cart while moving, as the chiminea is fragile despite its weight.
Clay or Metal Chiminea: What’s Better?
Without a single thought, anyone would guess that a steel or cast-iron chiminea is much more durable and can withstand the weather much better – provided it’s finished well.
However, if you prefer those traditional old classic looks with an awesome rustic feel, clay or terracotta is the material you should choose.
A few other advantages that come with selecting a clay chimenea include:
- It’s lightweight and cheaper
- Can be moved easily from one place to another
- Some bigger sizes can even accommodate some food grills
- It’s a natural, environmentally friendly material like wood and sand
- Materials like clay and ceramic cool off quicker than cast iron and are safer for kids
Air Dried vs. Kiln-Dried Clay Chiminea – What’s the Difference?
You can find two types of clay chimineas: kiln-dried (treated) and air-dried (untreated).
Kiln drying is a process of slowly heating clay to remove moisture. This type of treatment gives the clay a bit more strength, making it less likely to crack with changes in temperature.
A big advantage to these chimineas is that they come pre-painted and sealed; all you need to do before using them for the first time is prepare the fire.
If you’re the type that likes DIY home projects, an air-dried chiminea may be perfect for you.
Air-dried models will need to be painted and/or sealed before first use, but that gives you leeway in choosing the color and texture of your chiminea – just know that it requires more work overall.
However, purchase a kiln-dried clay model if you don’t want to wait to enjoy fires in your new outdoor oven.
The Bottom Line
Clay chimineas are rustic and natural.
These are fabulous when you want to enjoy the weekend with your family in winter.
You can keep them outdoors (in the backyard or patio) during the day and move them indoors for the evening.
The good thing is they do not require a lot of work.
With some good care, repaint, and regular touch-ups, you can keep your chiminea last for years.
Just make sure you use the right paint and follow the steps while maintaining.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.