A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any part of the house exteriors – chimney included.
But should you really consider painting your outside chimneys?
Many people wonder if painting a chimney is possible, and the answer to that is generally yes, but you should be aware of a few risks to it. These risks are especially involved when you plan to paint porous materials like bricks, cinder blocks, and concrete.
Below we will look at various aspects of painting your chimney, including paints you can use and some guidelines for picking the right type for the chimney.
Also, we will get an idea of what are the possible damages or risks involved so you can make a better decision before you plan to paint your chimneys.
Choosing the Paint Color for Chimney
Before you decide on any kind of paint color for chimneys, you need to judge whether you want them to stand out against the house or blend right in with the exterior.
The visual effect you want for the area will determine your final decision on the color – whether it should be light, dark, or somewhere in between.
These are just a few colors among many that people choose to paint their external chimneys:
1- Neutral Colors for Exterior Chimney
Neutral hues (like beige, cream, white, tan, gray, and brown) are among chimneys’ most commonly used paint colors due to their versatility.
The colors mentioned above give the chimney a more natural look and fit in well with most color schemes.
They are also suitable for hiding dirt and soot that builds up on the chimney over time.
You can find these colors widely available in all your favorite paint brands, giving you more control over the paints you use.
2- Monochromatic Colors for Your Chimney
Monochromatic colors offer one of the most straightforward design approaches for painting a chimney.
This color scheme just means that the house and the chimney are the same color.
You can pick a color two shades darker or lighter than the remainder of the home’s exterior.
To blend it all in, you can use other shades of the color you have on the shutters and trim work.
Going this route will produce a more harmonious appearance and provide subtle contrast for the entire house.
3- Contrasting Complementary Shades for Chimney
To make the chimney more visually exciting and eye-catching, you might want to paint it with contrasting colors. Creating contrast is easy.
All you need to do is choose colors that contrast against the existing paint colors based on the color scheme of your exterior.
For example, if your home’s exterior wall has a light-colored, more modern appearance, you may prefer dark gray or black for the chimney.
But if the outside walls are painted dark, it’s good to pick the lighter contrasting shades.
On the other hand, complementary colors are direct across from one another on the color wheel, so it is easy to pick out what color goes with what.
These include classic color combinations such as black and white or more vibrant pairings such as orange and blue, purple and yellow, or red and green.
You can adjust the colors’ intensity, but it is recommended that you keep them subtle and muted to avoid making the appearance of your exterior too visually overwhelming.
To make it fit better, you can add a complementary color to other parts of the house, such as the trim or shutters.
Risks of Painting Exterior Chimneys
Bricks, cement, mortar, coonder blocks, and stone are the standard materials you will find in most chimneys built in the US.
These materials are breathable and need to breathe.
Also, the temperature inside your chimney is different from the outside surface due to which water builds up, like as steam from a hot shower.
The moisture enters the bricks and seeps through their pores – but if you have painted exterior chimney or there is paint on the bricks, the moisture has nowhere to flee.
Furthermore, because the chimneys are constantly exposed to the elements, you have to deal with rain water and snow getting stuck in brick and mortar, which can cause it to expand and contract, damaging not just the bricks but also the paint on them.
And that’s all the risks I discussed at the beginning of the article.
When painting the chimneys you will need to consider the material it is made of and the type of paint you use.
Tips for Painting Different Types of Exterior Chimneys
Not all chimneys are made the same. They can vary in materials, meaning there are special considerations for each.
This means, if you are not careful about choosing the right paint for the material of your chimney, you can get into future problems that can be hard and expensive to fix.
1- Brick Chimneys
Brick chimneys are porous meaning it is compatible with any kind of paint.
Premium latex paint is the best paint for chimneys made of brick. This type of paint is more flexible and can more easily move with the expanding and contracting that the brick will do.
Oil paints can crack and harden over time, whereas latex paint handles time changes easily. And unlike oil paints, latex dries more quickly on chimneys, making them a much better option.
When painting a brick chimney, start first with a block filler. This is a product that masonry prep depends on, as it fills in any pores or gaps in the material, making the surface uniform, flat, and smooth while stopping water from getting into the bricks.
After the block filler has dried, you can begin applying the primer. Use a high-temperature primer if you live somewhere that is hotter than average.
With the chimney brick filled and primed, you can paint it whatever color you choose.
Tip: With painted brick chimneys its essential to build extra path that will allow the smoke and moisture to pass through fressly.
This will not damage your brick as long as the moisture has somewhere to go abd it works similar to collecting water from your roof using gutters.
2- Metal Chimneys
Since metal chimneys get hotter than chimneys made of other materials, it is crucial to choose a paint that is rated for high heat.
High-temperature latex paints are usually safe for up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, for instance, and are good to use on factory-built or prefabricated stainless steel chimneys. These come in both brush-on and spray-on forms.
Use painter’s tape on any materials in the area that you don’t want to spray and ensure the primer you put before the paint is also heat resistant.
When spray painting chimneys, be sure you do not hold the spray can too close for prolonged periods to ensure the paint evenly distributes.
Brush-on, high-temperature paints are in liquid form and can be painted on using either a roller or a brush.
Apply it using even, light strokes, and add more than one coat if necessary. It must be prepared like a brick chimney; only you will need to ensure there is no rust on the metal.
Rust won’t allow the paint to stick effectively so use sandpaper or steel wool to remove all of the rust.
3- Masonry Chimneys
Finally, masonry chimneys with concrete, clay, cinder block, ceramic, or pumice materials will require latex-based primer and paint. You can also use masonry emulsion paints and they also work well for these types of exterior chimneys.
These paints are breathable and durable, which is excellent for such porous surfaces that have a high likelihood of contracting and expanding.
If the chimney is used very often due to where you live, or you burn your fireplace often, you may need high-temperature latex paint for the best results.
These kinds of paints are also good choices if you only use the chimney in your kitchen every so often.
Before applying the paint, use a pressure washer to lift off any flaking of the surface of the chimney or any dirt and debris.
Reapply mortar if needed and thoroughly fill all the cracks and crevices in the material to ensure nothing gets trapped there while also making sure the paint adheres well.
Alternatives to Painting Exterior Chimney of Your Property?
Whether you are painting the exterior of your home or a commercial property, paint is one of the best and simplest ways for you to give a space a makeover without completely renovating it.
But if you wish to change the color of your brick or concrete chimney without getting them painted, one alternative option is to use the stain.
Contact a reputable staining company and be sure to communicate any concerns you have about trapping moisture inside the bricks so they use a high-quality stain that will enable your bricks to breathe out water vapor.
If you don’t want to alter the color, a good substitute will be to use a lime whitewash on bricks or to seal your bricks with a vapor-permeable sealant.
This way, water can be prevented from going in while still permitting water vapor to escape – sustaining your chimney for many years down the road.
The good thing, particularly about the whitewash, is if you’re unhappy with the white color on your bricks and want to start over, it’s easy to remove.
With other types of chimney paints, chemical paint removers are typically required, and keep in mind that this will be a difficult process. Hiring a specialist to do the job might be safer and more cost-effective.
The Bottom line
Painting a chimney can seem like a massive task at first glance, but it is not hard to do.
With the right tools, paint, and paint colors, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to transform the exterior of your home with the look of a new chimney.
There are also some paint colors for exterior chimneys that are more popular than others. But with the proper application of the paint, you can give your chimney a new lease on life in a safe manner.
And when painted well it can give your home the quick update it needs without doing a whole house renovation. This is especially a good choice if you want to increase curb appeal with limited budget.
Above, we discussed the different materials chimneys could be made from and how to paint them according to their unique qualities. So, keep them in mind the next time you want to paint your chimneys.
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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