DIY Brick Fireplace Makeover

After a few setbacks and some trial and error, I completed my brick fireplace makeover. Not to mention, it looks incredible. You probably find yourself here looking for an easy way to fix or update your current fireplace. I’m glad you’re here because I’m sharing all the details on how I pulled off this transformation, and I hope to save you a few mistakes. The before and after pictures blow me away, and this color makes a statement in our space.

First, let me say there was nothing wrong with how our brick looked before. With some cleaning, it already looked a lot better, but there was something about the colors that we felt needed to be updated. We also had a chimney inspection and found out the entire back wall of the fireplace would have to be rebuilt before we ever had another fire. Since we live in Georgia, a fireplace isn’t a necessity. So, now it’s just a focal point in our living room. A focal point I wanted desperately to paint or stain.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase, which allows me to provide all of this content to you for free.


Honestly, I wanted to go all in to start with, but we don’t own this home. I tried to do something subtle by staining the brick with a concrete stain. We tried two different colors and didn’t love it. It was a serious fail, and I was getting worried. Thankfully, Lowe’s has an amazing return policy, and they took both cans of stain back. Then, we moved onto the paint.

I’ve created an Amazon shopping list for the supplies I used, besides the paint. I hope this helps get your project finished even quicker.

Cleaning Your Fireplace

There are companies you can hire to come out and do this for you, but I decided to DIY it. I took a wire brush and scrubbed the soot off of the brick on the inside. Stay safe while doing this; you may want to wear goggles and a mask. Once I scrubbed the loose bits off the inside, I vacuumed it all up. Just cleaning up the inside was a huge improvement. I also took the time to fill in some cracks with fireplace mortar

I love watching the vacuum work its magic.

After everything was dry, it was time for my favorite part. PAINTING!

Painting the Brick

I’m a clean painter, so I usually do not tape off anything or use a drop cloth. Risky for sure. Before you start painting, make certain your surroundings are protected and covered and use tape to help you get clean lines around the trim. I didn’t remove the trim or mantle. I just painted around everything.

Here’s the paint I used for the interior and exterior of the fireplace. We purchased the paint at Lowe’s. The black is a semi-gloss, but a satin finish will be great too. The colors are Tricorn Black (SW6258) semi-gloss and Anchors Aweigh (SW9179) satin.

I started with the interior, the firebox, and I decided to paint it black. I like the subtle distinction between the two colors. It was also easy to cover the soot. Most places only took one coat. Remember, we aren’t using heat inside our box any more, so make adjustments for your fireplace.

After I finished the inside of the box, it was time for the exterior. I took a deep breath and started painting. I used a brush to keep things cleaner, and it’s my preference for anything besides a wall most of the time. The gallon of paint went so far too. Again, most places only took one coat. I let everything dry before I touched up spots on the paint. 

If you are also changing your mantle, I did that too, and of course, some things went wrong, but it turned out so right.

DIY Mantle Makeover

This mantle could almost take an entire blog post. Lots of trial and error here too. If you can take your mantle down, I would do it. I didn’t even try, but removing it may have made this job a little easier.

Since I did this inside, I used Citristrip stripping gel. The smell was minimal and didn’t bother me at all. I did try to keep some windows open. My hope for the mantle was to tone down the orange stain. I thought it would be a simple fix. Nope… Grrrrr. Hopefully, it will be easier for you with these tips.

Before you apply the gel, remove your mantle from the brick or make sure the brick doesn’t get the gel on it. It’s not a huge deal, but you will have to touch up the paint once you clean off the gel if some does get on the brick. I applied the stripping gel with a paint brush.

First, I stripped everything and scraped off all the goop. It would be best if you had some decent gloves for this step. It’s messy. Have a trash can and some paper towels close by as well. I used the stripping gel three times in most places. It may not take as long for you, especially if you are going darker. I was attempting to go lighter, so I wanted to remove as much as I could.

After you finish stripping, clean up the areas with mineral spirits. Again, wear gloves. Leave your mantle to dry for a day so that you can see the actual color.

I thought a lighter stain would take the orange out of the wood, but it didn’t do a thing. Another mishap. More thinking…………

Lighter stain attempt on the front right.

Then, AHA! Paint. Yes, I used a thin paint mixture to get the pickled natural color I wanted on the mantle. It worked like a charm too.

The paint mixture.

I used paint I had on hand because it was late at night, and I was ready to find a solution. So, I used white chalk paint with a tiny bit of green mixed in and thinned it with water. The color green neutralizes the color orange. I brushed on some paint and wiped on the excess until I got the look I wanted.

After applying a Polycrylic, you cannot tell that paint is on the mantle. Which brings me to the next step.

Once your paint or stain has dried, you need to add a poly. I used Polycrylic in a satin finish. I chose this poly because the finish is clear, and it has very minimal yellowing over time. Apply to surface with a paintbrush.

After two coats of poly

After the first coat of poly dries, follow directions on the can, sand with 220 grit, then apply a second coat. Waiting for the second coat to dry seemed like it took forever because I was eager to decorate, my favorite part.

navy painted brick fireplace
My winter inspired fireplace.

This project is great to do in a weekend. Painting the brick went by quickly. The most time-consuming thing for me was redoing the mantle because of the time required between each step. You can DIY your fireplace makeover; make sure the paint you use is safe if you plan to continue using your fireplace.

Now for the big reveal! Before and after. I don’t know which is better the brick makeover or the wood mantle. This fireplace has been one of my favorite transformations.

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