A fireplace can be quite comforting on those cold, winter nights.
But for those who want to create an even warmer atmosphere, it is recommended that the firebox be painted to enhance the appearance of the flames.
While painting the firebox itself is fairly straightforward, you will need to find a paint that is both non-toxic and heat resistant.
There are many brands like Rustoleum, Sherwin Williams, and few others that manufacture high-quality heat-resistant paints.
Rustoleum heat resistant paint (available in a spray bottle) is one of the best which I found useful and workable for fireplaces.
However, before you plan to purchase heat-resistant paint that is also non-flammable, you will need to identify the type of fireplace that you own.
This will determine the exact type of paint that you will need to purchase.
Paint for Wood Burning Fireplaces
The firebox inside a wood-burning fireplace is either brick-lined or metal-lined.
And it really does matter to take a look at the type you have, when you want to pick the right kind of paint for painting inside it.
Most fireplaces in the US are made from brick because it is quite heat resistant and relatively easy to construct.
The type of non-flammable paint that you purchase needs to be able to cover the stains created by soot and creosote while withstanding high temperatures.
This means a paint capable of withstanding 1,200F degrees and possible with a silicone resin as part of its base.
The best color for the paint may be a simple flat black to help augment the appearance of the flames.
Many newer fireplaces are crafted from metal. Unlike brick, metal surfaces are more difficult for paint to properly stick.
You will need heat-resistant paint that can attach itself to a metal surface.
One of the best is stove paint which is used inside of a kitchen or wood-burning stoves.
Unlike other recommended paints for metal surfaces that will get extremely hot, stove paint does not require any special gear or equipment to apply.
With that in mind, avoid using too much of a glazed look or paint that comes with a glossy sheen.
Paint for Gas Burning Fireplaces
The advantages of a gas fireplace are that you do not have to worry about soot or creosote.
However, the heat generated by the fireplace often requires the firebox to be touched up with paint for the best appearance.
Many retailers, like Rustoleum, will have paint that is formulated for gas fireplaces, allowing you to repaint the firebox and inserts easily.
So, do check them out and choose the right one as per your requirements.
What I liked most about the Rustoleum heat-resistant paint is it’s safe to use – no matter what surface you are painting on.
This means you can use it for metal fireplace insert, surround, doors, etc.
Not only for redoing the metal fireplaces, hearth, and surrounds, if you want you can use it for spray painting wood chimneys in your home as well.
Other than Rustoleum, a few other heat resistant paints/stains you can use for your wall gas fireplace are:
- Stove black
- Krylon spray paint
- Barbecue grill paint
These are highly durable and are easily available at any paint or hardware store near you.
What Color Should You Paint the Fireplace?
The color you paint your fireplace can make a big difference in the look and feel you are trying to recreate.
While there are choices of different colors to choose, dark gray or black is the best for painting the inside of the fireplace.
When painting outside (like the fireplace surround and hearth) keeping it neutral and calm is the best option.
For this, you can choose shades like white, off-white, cream, tan, beige, light gray, etc.
If you are painting bricks, you can choose solid light neutral blends for creating a “real brick” look.
Overall, it’s more of personal preference and style, so make sure that the shade you pick matches perfectly well with your overall home décor.
How to Paint the Interior of a Fireplace?
As you choose the right type of paint, so too must you select the right safety equipment to keep you protected.
In addition to your basic paint supplies be sure you have the following equipment.
- Face mask
- Rubber gloves
- Protective clothing
By wearing such items, you can now start to clean and paint the fireplace.
These will help protect you from the ashes, soot, or creosote that may remain in the flue of the chimney.
If you want to keep your fireplaces looking new and clean you should also consider adding the following products.
- Brick Patching Compound
- Hearth Cleaner
- Liquid & Paste Polishes
While using these products is not mandatory, when you are painting the fireplace, it will help keep your fireplace looking bright and new.
Obviously, you should never paint the fireplace until it has entirely cooled down from use.
Then, clean the ash out of the fireplace, and reading the label to the paint you are using will get you started.
Steps for Painting the Interior of a Fireplace
When you are ready with your paint and paint supplies, it’s time to start the paint job with the right steps.
Step 1. Clean
Arguably the most important step is to properly clean the fireplace.
This means removing the gate, sweeping out all the ash, scraping off any ash from the sides, vacuuming away any remaining ash, soot, or creosote.
If you find the ashes or soot too stubborn to remove you can use a bit of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and scrub with a stiff steel brush.
Make sure you wash it properly multiple times. And finally wiping down the interior with a wet rag.
Step 2. Sand & Repair
After you have cleaned the area, you will need to sand the bricks.
Make use of sandpaper in the range of 100 to 220 grit.
You will need to start with a lower grit first and then move up as you require for smoothening the surface.
In the process, you can either use a sanding block, foam-sanding sponge, or a power sander which will ensure that you do not hurt your hands while sanding the fireplace.
If you notice any small gaps between bricks in a firebox, be sure to fill and repair them up with a refractory caulk (also called fireplace caulk).
This high-temperature sealant is specifically meant for masonry fireplaces and chimneys.
After you have fixed the cracks and gaps in your firebox, sand a bit to make the surface look even.
Step 3. Mix the Paint
When painting the inside of a mantlepiece be sure you have the right type of paint to use in your fireplace.
Keep in mind that it needs to withstand temperatures of 1,200 F degrees.
When you have your paint ready with you, mix the paint (use a paint mixer tool) properly before you apply it.
If you are planning to use a primer before painting, tint the primer as closely as possible to match the final paint color you have chosen.
This applies especially if you are choosing the darker or intense shades to match your décor.
Step 4. Paint with a Brush
When painting inside the fireplace you do not need a fancy brush.
In fact, an inexpensive nylon brush will work fine, and you can throw it away after you have completed the project.
When applying the paint with a brush, care that you clean up the drips immediately with a damp rag.
This will help you provide improved final quality without any ugly marks.
Step 5. Let it Dry and Do Not Overdo
After you have painted the fireplace inside, it’s time to let it dry properly before you use it again.
Also, make sure that you apply a thin coat of paint.
If the paint layer is too thick it will crack or flake off soon.
Multiple layers of paint are only needed if you are painting the bare wall or a metal surface inside the fireplace.
Can You Paint Mortar on Brick Fireplace?
Mortar joints are generally the grey-colored concrete joints that are found between each brick on a fireplace wall with a weathered look.
While most people like to keep the brick and mortar’s natural look there are others who prefer painting the mortar joints with something more appealing.
Although painting mortar on a brick fireplace can help in dressing it up, the process to paint the mortar can be challenging as well as time-consuming.
This is due to the fact that these are only the thin joints that are formed when the bricks are recessed face to face – you will need to be extra careful while painting them properly.
Plus, as the joints are porous in nature you will need a good amount of time to cure the mortar after applying a coat of paint over it.
If you really want to paint the mortar joints of a brick firewall in your living area, here are few essential steps you can follow:
- If the mortar is still new, let it get cured for about 3-4 weeks. This will allow proper paint bonding.
- After its cured, vacuum or wash away the dust and debris that may have accumulated and dried.
- Let it dry for a day and then apply the primer on the mortar – you can use any universal acrylic primer.
- Let the primer dry for about 4-5 hours. Then finally apply a good latex paint that is suitable for the mortar.
- Allow the first coat of paint to dry and then recoat the mortar to get the right finish.
- When applying primer and paint on the mortar joints, make sure you use a thin paintbrush. Also, apply it slowly with smooth, even strokes.
One of the main reasons why people like to stain or paint the mortar on the brick fireplace is to match it with the rest of the wall.
Since the masonry stain, paint, or sealant you use will get absorbed into the mortar, it does not fade, crack or peel away with time.
In other words, the painted fireplace mortar will last as long as the mortar itself.
Staining it carefully can even help to hide the repairs by blending it completely with the wall paint colors.
Can You Use Chalk Paint on a Marble Fireplace?
Since chalk paint is a water-based paint that is not flammable, you can use it to paint over your fireplace.
But remember, although the chalky paint is safe for painting fire surrounds, hearths, and radiators, these are not classified as heat resistant or fire-retardant paints.
So, it’s not the best option for painting the fireplace inside.
Known for its chalky, matte finish the exceptional quality of the chalk paint is it does not require any sanding, stripping, or priming.
This means, if your fireplace is already clean (or you just require a quick clean-up for your marble fireplace), you can use chalk paint to offer it a quick makeover.
It also sticks very easily to any surface, gives excellent coverage, and dries very fast.
Plus, if you seal the chalk paint correctly it lasts for long without any damage.
A Few Additional Tips for Cleaning and Painting Inside Fireplace
The first tip is that you should not paint areas where the flame comes in direct contact with the surface.
Even the best, most heat-resistant paints will not last long when it comes in direct contact with the flame.
This usually means not painting the grate or backplate.
1- Use Standard Paint
In the areas of the fireplace that does not come into contact with heat, you can use regular paint.
While you should use non-toxic paint to reduce any chance of indoor air pollution, you should also get a type of paint that is easy to clean.
However, if what you paint is outside the firebox and the flue is in good condition, you may rarely have to clean the surface.
2- Limewash Brick Fireplace
Limewashing or whitewashing your brick stone fireplace is not only convenient but also much affordable.
If you have bricks around your fireplace a product like Romabio limewash can be a quick way to get it repainted.
The specially formulated Romabio’s Classico Limewash paint for fireplace bricks can be a great alternative if you want to create an antique limewash or whitewashed look.
3- Clean Out the Ash Regularly
If you use your wood stove regularly, then you will have to deal with the soot.
But you can clean the ash out after every two or three burnings. This will help keep the fireplace looking neat.
Clean out the soot when spring arrives, and you are no longer using the fireplace.
A few other precautionary tips you should keep in mind while painting or redoing your fireplace are:
- Make sure that the fireplace is completely cold before you begin
- If the fireplace has metal parts, make sure that it is free from rust, dirt, and grease
- Use a drop cloth or old cardboard sheets for protecting the areas around the place that you do not want to paint
Remember, proper cleaning and painting of the firebox interiors at regular intervals will maintain the appearance of your fireplace.
However, painting your fireplace requires the right paint and brushes to get the job done.
Just remember to clean the fireplace thoroughly first, then you can start to paint.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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