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How To Whitewash A Brick Fireplace

Have you ever had something that happened in your life that it was just meant to be? Well, that’s what it felt like when we purchased our house. 

With the Bay Area housing market, buying a house is not easy, even if you are willing to spend the money. We’ve heard so many stories about putting offers on multiple homes and getting disappointed each time thinking this is the house. 

When Joe and I were finally ready to look, we mentally prepared ourselves for a long term house hunting process. So we contacted our friend, Jenny, that was a real estate agent specializing in the Tri-Valley. It is crucial to work with an agent with roots in the area you are looking to buy. Here’s why. 

Jenny found us THE home in a week. We had coffee with Jenny on a Saturday to learn more about the house-hunting process and let her know what we are looking for. She called us on Monday, let us know an acquaintance had contacted her about selling his house. We were able to see the house the following Saturday and submitted our offer the next day. 

From the day we met with Jenny to when we signed papers and closed on the house, it all happened in about a month. As I said, it was meant to be our home. 

So we have this gorgeous brick fireplace in our living room. The brick gives the room some texture and charm. It also makes it feel cozy when we have a fire going. 

how to whitewash a brick fireplace
Our little helpers.

While I love the brick, the color made the room a little dated. So one of the first things I wanted to do when we moved in was brightening up the room by whitewashing the bricks around the fireplace. 

Now, I’m not quite the DYI home improvement type of gal. Painting is not something that Joe and I like doing or have ever done together (not sure if I would want to strangle him or love him more after it). So after living in the house and staring at the fireplace for over a year, I had to get it done. 

Check out this time-lapse video from the beginning until the end of the entire paint job.

Lucy… we were dog sitting for friends… was very helpful.

Whitewashing is simply painting with a paint mixed with water. Depending on how much coverage of the bricks you want, the ratio of paint to water will be a factor. The more water, the thinner the paint. It will give you less coverage of the original brick color if that’s the look you want. Since my goal was to brighten up the room, we went with equal parts of water and paint. 

Here’s what we needed:

White paint – we went to the paint store and picked up a can of semi-gloss white paint. You don’t need expensive paint since it will be mixed with water. We told the clerk what our plans were with the paint and, he helped us select a budget-friendly brand.

Small bucket – to mix the paint and water.

Paintbrushes – we got a few inexpensive ones knowing we will not be gentle with them due to all the cracks and concrete we will have to paint. We also got 2 smaller ones for the kids to use.

Painting tape – to tape up all the edges of the fireplace.

Paint containers – to split up the paint and keep the brushes during breaks.

Ladder – to reach the high spots.

Tarp – to cover the surrounding carpet area. 

how to whitewash a brick fireplace cleaning
Cleaning up all the dust and cobwebs before painting.

Here’s what we did:

Prep work – like any paint job, you need to prep the area by taping the edges and covering the surrounding floor areas. We also needed to dust off the entire surface of the fireplace before applying paint. Paint and dust do not go well together. The easiest way was to use a handheld vacuum cleaner along the entire surface. 

Mixing the paint – we poured half the can of paint into the bucket and added the same amount of water and mixed it with a wooden stick. 

Divide and conquer – Joe painted the top on a ladder while I stayed grounded, painting the lower parts of the fireplace. We made sure we are painting on opposite sides of each other so I won’t get dripped on. The kids wanted to be part of it, so we let them paint the bottom once we had the top done. 

The whole process took us about half the day with managing the kids in between. 

We loved how the whitewash turned out on the fireplace. It brightens up the room and gives it a much more modern look to a brick fireplace. Our thought is to put the tv above the mantel, but we will see. 

Joe and I survived our first paint project together, which is a win! We had a few “let’s stop and talk about this” moments. It definitely helped us get on the same wavelength and not get frustrated with each other along the way. It was worth celebrating with a glass of wine. 

how to whitewash brick fireplace
Cheers!

2 Comments

  • Chelsea

    It turned out fabulous!! We are in the process of choosing a color for ours or deciding if we want to do a white wash. I also want to thoroughly clean it because it’s blackened in parts. Thanks for all the tips!

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