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How to Whitewash a Brick Fireplace

Do you have a brick fireplace, or any type of exposed brick, that you are wanting to update?  If so, keep reading!  We recently whitewashed the red brick fireplace and hearth in our main living space.  It was seriously so easy that I had to come share with you how to whitewash exposed brick, so that you could do the same to your own spaces.

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I have been slowly working my way through my house, updating and redecorating it.  It’s been a slow process, but I’m loving all the changes that have been made.  I am desperately trying to finish up our living room before summer, but we’ll see if that actually happens or not.  (Is a room ever truly finished…?  I’m pretty sure at my house, it’s not.)  

One of the biggest issues in our living room was the fireplace.  We have a pretty decent size fireplace with a hearth that runs the entire width of the room.  So, there’s a fair amount of brick.  When we moved in, it was (obviously) exposed red brick.

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.
Here’s what it looked like “before.”

While I really do love my house, one thing that I have always hated is that it just feels dark inside.  We live in an older neighborhood with tons of huge trees.  And though I love the shade that the trees provide our yard, we don’t get much natural light indoors.  Plus, our house is north facing, and we don’t have many east facing windows.

You know what also adds to the dark feel of our house – dark, red brick.  

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love natural exposed brick in certain places, but I’ve never loved it in my living room.  So, after much deliberation, I finally decided to take the plunge and whitewash it…

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.

And I’m so glad I did!  It was seriously such an easy process, and it completely transformed the look of our living room.

(This post contains affiliate links.  To see my full disclosure, go here.)

Here’s what you need:

  1. White paint
  2. Water or Paint Thinner (depending on what type of paint you use)
  3. Paint Brush (I love my Purdy paint brushes.  They are expensive, but definitely worth it.)
  4. Sponge or old rag
  5. Painting Tape

 

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the brick is clean.  We vacuumed our brick and used a wet cloth where needed.  Then, we taped off around all the brick.  Brick is uneven, so our tape job wasn’t perfect.  Our built-ins and trim are white, though, so I wasn’t super worried about the tape being totally perfect.

Then, what you will want to do is mix your paint 1:1 with either water or paint thinner.  We used an oil based paint simply because that is what we had on hand, and we didn’t want to spend any money that wasn’t necessary.  (Actually, this project didn’t cost us anything, as we already had all the supplies on hand!)  If you choose to use oil paint, you will need to mix it with paint thinner.  If you choose to use a latex based paint, you will want to mix it with water.  And again, you want to mix equal parts of both.  We started with fairly small buckets so as not to waste a lot, if it wasn’t all used.  

Important note: You will want to make sure your floor is covered before you begin.  The paint will be very thin and drippy once it’s mixed.  

To get started, you simply paint a small section with your paint brush,

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.

and then use your sponge or rag (we used a old t-shirt that we cut up) to go back over it and blot the excess.  Again, the paint is very runny and may drip some.  So, you want to make sure to mop up all of the drips on the brick.

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.

Proceed in this manner until you have covered all the brick.  The brick will absorb quite a bit of the paint, which will allow some of the red color and original texture to show through.  Once your first coat is dry, you can decide if you want to leave it as is, or give it a second coat.

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.
This is after the first coat.

We chose to do a second coat on ours, although truthfully, I probably would have been happy either way.

The left half of the fireplace has been given a second coat here. You can see the difference when you compare to the right side.

And that’s literally it.  Seriously, so simple, and it makes such a big impact.  It immediately lightened the look of our living room and was a huge part of the transformation of this room.

Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home. Do you love the look of whitewashed brick? This tutorial will show you step by step how to whitewash your fireplace in order to update your home.

Stay tuned for the full living room reveal in the next few weeks!

 

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15 Comments

  1. Wow, what a big difference that made and I love simple projects that make a big impact. It does lighten up the room so much and changes the whole look. The texture in the brick looks really good after being white washed too. Looking forward to the reveal Amy

    1. Yes, it was so easy to do, and I love the way it turned out. It’s amazing how such a small change can make such a big difference! Thanks, Michelle!

  2. It looks so much better Amy, Bright and happy and I’m sure it makes a huge difference in the room. Your bookcase contents also stand out more.

    1. Thank you, Mary! It is definitely much brighter and cleaner. And you’re right, it does make some of the other decor pop more. 🙂

  3. That looks GREAT! Thanks for the tutorial. My mom has painted brick… but I may ‘wash’ it with another color to update it a bit! Visiting from Sweet Inspiration… thanks for hosting!

    1. Thank you so much! We debated painting it, but I’m so glad we went with the whitewash. You still get some of the character of the original brick, which I love. Thanks so much for visiting. 🙂

  4. Hi Amy,
    This couldn’t come at a better time. I’m planning a project to whitewash mine. We’re going to be selling our house & this is a good way to brighten up our Great Room. I love how it has brightened up yours!

    1. Oh, Florence. It was so easy! It will definitely brighten your space up. Good luck with the project, and good luck with selling! I hope everything goes well for you. 🙂

  5. Wow – it looks amazing! What a difference!! We have a very a similar exposed brick wall – but without the shelves. We get a lot of sunlight in the room – but this has my wheels turning!! 🙂 Awesome job!

    1. Let me tell you, it was seriously the easiest project, and it made such a difference. I still love it every time I look at it. If you are considering it, I would say go for it!

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