If you've got a free afternoon, you've got time to give your brick fireplace surround a dramatic new look. All it takes is a little elbow grease, a few tools, and some fireplace paint.
Before you take on this project, inspect your surround. While there are many things that can be included on an OK-to-paint list, most stone fireplaces—limestone, sandstone, river rock, for example—are less amenable and harder to change if you do paint them. A brick surround is the best bet. Then choose your color. A whitewash brick fireplace is a classic choice, but a black fireplace adds drama. Pick a color that matches the style of your home and the room's decor.
To make sure your paint adheres and dries properly, you'll need to thoroughly clean the brick. Use a wire scrub brush to remove any dirt or dust, then apply nonsudsy trisodium phosphate (also called TSP; wear gloves and safety goggles), and wash thoroughly with a heavy-duty cleaner. Rinse and let dry. Cover your floor with a drop cloth and tape off any areas you want to remain paint-free.
A stain-blocking, oil-base primer protects your paint against future soot stains from fireplace use. Apply primer to the entire surface, following the manufacturer's directions.
Once the primer is dry, it's time to paint. Choose indoor, latex, heat resistant paint—either flat, semigloss, or gloss—rated to withstand temperatures generated by the fireplace (generally about 200°F) and a roller designed for textured surfaces. The latter helps cover the surface of the brick, which is likely not smooth. For any spots you can't reach using a roller, touch up with a small paintbrush. Apply a second and third coat as needed, allowing plenty of drying time between coats.
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