Priming a Brick Fireplace Wall
My entire fireplace wall is a dark, dated brick that sucks up all the light in the room. I'd love to paint or whitewash it, but I worry about painting a wall that can get pretty hot when a fire is lit. Are there any special primers I can use or steps to follow before painting the brick?
Submitted by MDPNic

I think what you are describing is a great idea to brighten up the room; I have two projects right now where we are doing something similar. You raise some valid concerns.  How hot does your wall get when there is a fire?  Typically this interior wall should be warm, but not hot.  I guess it depends on how your particular chimney is built ( or by the size of the fire you are building...).

There are special primers and paints that are designed for a masonry wall.  You can get these at a "real" paint store where the pro's shop.  Any of these materials should be fine even on a "warm" wall.  If you were to use standard interior paint this would not be the case.  As with any painting, good surface prep and the right primer will be the key to a good job.  The folks at the shop can set you up once they know what you are tackling.

You mentioned "whitewashing". That would be a neat "old-school choice.  Whitewash is basically a slurry of lime and water.  This would hold up well to any heat though will require a few coats as well as re-application to keep it looking bright.

Keep in mind, the next owner may curse you for painting the brick, but hey it's your house.

In that vein, you may want to consider cleaning or lightening the brick you have.  If it is an older installation it is amazing how much dirt and haze can build up on the old brick.  My own home (all brick) is 80 years old.  I cleaned most the exterior brick a few years ago and it is so might brighter.
Try a company called Prosoco for their specialty cleaners but be very careful or hire the job out to someone experienced with such things.  The active ingredients are some pretty potent acids ( sulfuric, hydrochloric etc.)

I think what you are describing is a great idea to brighten up the room; I have two projects right now where we are doing something similar. You raise some valid concerns.  How hot does your wall get when there is a fire?  Typically this interior wall should be warm, but not hot.  I guess it depends on how your particular chimney is built (or by the size of the fire you are building...).

 

There are special primers and paints that are designed for a masonry wall.  You can get these at a "real" paint store where professional painters and contractors shop.  Any of these materials should be fine even on a "warm" wall.  If you were to use standard interior paint this would not be the case.  As with any painting, good surface prep and the right primer will be the key to a good job.  The folks at the shop can set you up once they know what you are tackling.

 

You mentioned "whitewashing". That would be a neat old-school choice.  Whitewash is basically a slurry of lime and water.  This would hold up well to any heat though will require a few coats as well as re-application to keep it looking bright.

 

Keep in mind, the next owner may curse you for painting the brick, but hey. It's your house.

 

In that vein, you may want to consider cleaning or lightening the brick you have.  If it is an older installation, it is amazing how much dirt and haze can build up on the old brick.  My own home (all brick) is 80 years old.  I cleaned most the exterior brick a few years ago and it is so might brighter. Try a company called Prosoco for their specialty cleaners, but be very careful or hire the job out to someone experienced with such things.  The active ingredients are some pretty potent acids (sulfuric, hydrochloric etc.). Best of luck with your project; let us know what you decide!