Our Brick Fireplace Makeover | DIY Ideas

We recently moved into a new house and the fireplace was not our style. If you’re considering a brick fireplace makeover DIY, then you probably know what I’m talking about.

A fireplace can be a beautiful focal point in a living room, but outdated brick fireplaces tend to be more of an eyesore.

Modernizing an old red brick fireplace can actually increase the value of your home.

The good news is, the minimalist look is the biggest fireplace trend right now. That means you don’t have to do too much to get your fireplace up to par.

It’s actually pretty easy to refresh your fireplace and give it more of a modern feel.

We did a makeover DIY on our outdated fireplace. It made a huge difference, and we love the results. So much so that I’ll share the before and after below!

Of course, there are some options for a brick fireplace makeover DIY that are more complicated than others. However, you can choose the level of DIY that’s right for you.

Let’s get into some options and ideas first. Then, I’ll share our own brick fireplace makeover DIY project!

Brick Fireplace Makeover DIY Options:

Our brick fireplace makeover diy project

You can think outside of the box to come up with all kinds of cool ways to do a brick fireplace makeover DIY.

These are the most common makeover options we found when deciding how to do our DIY fireplace makeover. The options range from amateur to expert in the DIY category.

Make sure you choose an option that matches up with your abilities. This way, you don’t get in over your head.

DIY is all about trying new things that you aren’t sure you can do and learning through the process.

Replace the existing mantel:

Replacing the existing fireplace mantel is an easy way to do DIY brick fireplace makeovers.

Without redoing the entire thing, a new mantle transforms a dated brick fireplace with little additional cost.

You can update it with a new mantle and leave the red brick. Or, do a combination of one of the options below and a new mantel to complete the look.

Picture Credit: BloomingDIYer

Replacing a mantel can be as simple as purchasing a new mantel from the store.

Wood can be sanded and stained or you can just sand and leave it all natural.

There are many options, but you can also make your own by using barn wood or other materials. Such materials would add so much character to your fireplace.

Clean the Brick

If you like the classic red brick look, then a little TLC may be all it needs to be a beautiful fireplace again. Taking a couple of hours to clean up your existing brick, and adding a new mantel might be all you need.

Cleaning a fireplace can take a lot of elbow grease, especially a wood burning fireplace.

Use clear soap or soap marked ‘for use one brick’ and warm water with a plastic bristle brush.

A soft wire brush is okay, but be careful using a hard metal brush because it can damage the soft brick on the face of your fireplace.

You can use a masonry sponge to rinse. Plastic sheeting will keep your floor dry throughout the process. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to restore your brick fireplace to its original beauty.

Paint the Brick:

Painting the brick is the simplest option and requires the least skill and tools to complete.

Anyone can paint fireplace brick and give it a whole new look. This is one of the least expensive options as well.

Keep in mind that your paint should use high heat paint or at least heat resistant paint like flat, semi gloss, or gloss.

A fresh new brick color will change the look of the entire room. Changing your fireplace paint color is one of the best ways to modernize your space.

It’s a good idea to use a primer, especially if you’re going to be painting with a light color. For example, white paint might have a hard time covering the red brick on its own.

Even darker colors can benefit from primer. This is because primer’s main job is to make sure your paint adheres to the surface you are painting.

You can paint your fireplace with brushes, rollers, or even a paint sprayer. Just be sure to use painter’s tape and a drop cloth to protect any surfaces nearby.

If you plan on painting the inside of your fireplace as well, be sure to ask a paint professional what kind of paint you need to use for safety purposes.

If your brick fireplace has any metal features, you can paint those too! Make sure you clean the metal well, and use a high quality primer to ensure that the paint sticks to the metal.

Whitewash the Brick

Whitewashing is very similar to painting but with a slightly different result.

Paint will completely cover the brick on an old fireplace. Whereas, whitewashing gives it a distressed look.

The whitewash allows some of the color from the red brick fireplace to show through.

The process of whitewashing is simple, using a 50/50 mix of water and white latex paint. Then, you just brush it on as you do paint. Simple and beautiful.

Photo Credit: Rocky Canyon Rustic

When it comes to whitewashing, you definitely want to skip the primer.

Primer, in this case, will ruin your chance to whitewash. This is because primer will cover the red brick that is supposed to slightly show through your white wash paint.

Whitewash should be applied with a paint brush.

You can control the transparency of your whitewash by only applying one coat for maximum transparency or adding more coats to reduce transparency.

Some people use a sealant over whitewashing to really set in the paint. This step isn’t required, but it is suggested by some experts.

Sealing whitewashed painted brick will help the finish last longer and protect it from scratches and damage.

Since your fireplace probably won’t be touched very much, it probably won’t get damaged anyway. Therefore, sealing the whitewash is totally optional.

Stucco over the brick:

Here’s where the DIY skill requirement levels up.

Stucco is easier than it seems. However, it can still be complicated for people who don’t work with these types of materials often, or ever.

Stucco is like a thin layer of concrete and it can be smooth or made into a textured surface.

You will find stucco can be left natural, painted, or you can even mix paint into the stucco before applying it.

This method can seem pretty intimidating, but it’s actually not that bad because stucco doesn’t have to be perfect.

Some people like their stucco smooth, but most stucco is textured with a usual imperfect look. An imperfect look makes it a great DIY project.

Stucco requires just a few steps: a liquid bonding agent is applied, a cement based mixture for the base coat, and finishing coat, and then texturing and painting.

Will this process be easy? It will be a learning experience, but it’s totally possible to pull off!

Add tile:

Tile is a fairly easy way to update your old red brick fireplace.

You can choose to use accent tiles, which are a great way to dress up an old brick fireplace.

Another option is to add accent tiles over brick, which isn’t a super complicated process.

Maybe you like the brick itself, but you feel like it needs a little something extra. Try outlining it with some accent tiles instead of completely covering the brick.

If you want to cover the brick entirely, that’s very doable too!

Whether you’re going for a complete makeover or just adding some accents, you’ll want to install cement board anywhere you’ll be adding tile.

Cement board gives the tile something flat and even to adhere to. This ensures that you won’t have uneven tiles. Cement board can be attached to the face of the brick with thinset, also known as mortar. This is the same adhesive you’ll use to attach your tiles to the cement board.

Want to make your DIY even easier than laying tiles? Try using tile sheets for a quick finished fireplace look.

Using sheets of tiles that are held together with mesh backing makes placement much easier and saves you loads of time.

After putting the tiles in place with thinset, you’ll add in your grout. Keep in mind, not everyone prefers to leave space for grout. If you choose to leave grout space, be sure to wipe it clean and leave it to dry.

Our Brick Fireplace Makeover DIY Project

Our brick fireplace makeover diy project

We decided to use paint for our brick fireplace makeover DIY project. You wouldn’t believe the power of paint to transform something like your old fireplace.

Ours was a pretty simple project that didn’t take very long. Best of all, we all worked on it together!

We completed the project over the course of a few days. While some could easily complete this DIY project in one day, we had only a couple hours at night to work on it. Therefore, it took a few days to allow time for the paint to dry between applications.

Let’s walk through it step by step.

First, Travis pulled the existing mantel off of the fireplace.  

To prep the fireplace, Travis used a wire brush to brush off the brick. We then used our vacuum to suck up all the debris and make sure the whole thing was clean.

 It’s really important to make sure the entire surface area is all clean and in good shape before you start adding a fresh coat of paint.

Next, we painted the fireplace brick with primer.

Travis chose to have the primer tinted gray. Lowe’s paint department employee said it was best to do that before painting the brick black, which is the color we chose.  

To apply the primer, we used small hand brushes rather than rollers. We found the brushes to be best for getting into the mortar lines.

Some people choose to use rollers, which can work well too. If you use a roller, try the fluffy rollers that have more nap to get into the mortar lines and cracks.

The three of us all worked together brushing on the primer. When done, we left the primer to dry overnight. 

The next day, we were ready to apply our chosen paint color. We used Sherwin Williams Tri-Corn Black from Lowes to paint the fireplace. 

Again, we started with brushes filling in all of the mortar and cracks. Then, we brushed each brick one by one to apply the black paint.  

We allowed the first coat of black paint to dry over night. The next day, we completed painting with a second coat of black paint.

To finish it off, Travis built a new mantel. He built ours from a beautiful old barnwood beam we had in storage.

We chose to leave it with its natural wood look instead of staining it. 

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

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Brick Fireplace Makeover DIY