Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 21, 2013

How to Easily Paint a Stone Fireplace (Charcoal Grey Fireplace Makeover)

One day, I'd love to renovate the fireplace entirely.  The fire box is tiny and old, the doors are wonky, the vents are awkward and inconveniently placed, the tile has a dated mint green woven into it, I could go on . . . I think a slate fireplace with a spot for the television above would be so beautiful and practical, but for now I needed a budget-friendly way to make over our fireplace.  For less than $100, I painted the gold doors and vents black using high heat paint and painted the pine wood and fireplace stone a rich charcoal grey.

This was such an inexpensive - and easy! - way to update the fireplace and modernize the entire living room.

There were three major steps to this affordable fireplace makeover:
  1. Convince Hubby to let me paint the faux stone dark grey
  2. Paint the metal fireplace doors and vents with Rustoleum high heat enamel spray paint
  3. Paint the fireplace faux stone and sauna wood
Friday I showed you how I painted the fireplace doors and vents, but didn't show you the rest of the freshly painted fireplace.  Was it cruel to make you wait all weekend?  Well, without further ado . . .

Budget-Friendly Fireplace Makeover by @danslelakehouse // How to Paint a Fireplace

Supplies:

Prepping the Fireplace Stone for Paint

The fireplace "stone" is really just concrete with random bits of stuff thrown in it so it looks a little like stone.  It wouldn't have offended me so much if it didn't have 80s pink hues blended in.  I had read conflicting suggestions on how-to websites about the right kind of paint to use on concrete.  I decided to play it safe and went to the Home Depot in search of masonry paint but a) the colour choices were really limited and b) they were out of the dark bases anyway.  Happily, the woman working the paint department confirmed that I could just to use a plain old paint + primer combo (I used Behr premium plus).

Before painting, I cleaned the stone.  I had planned to use a shop vac, but I had a little mishap.  My Dad suggested I clean out the fireplace with it as well, so I did that first.  I checked quickly to make sure that what I was cleaning wasn't being pumped back into the room and all was good.  I turned back to the fireplace and, engrossed in my work (and patting myself on the back for the sparkling clean fireplace I was seeing), I didn't turn around until I heard the smoke detector.  When I turned around, the air was so thick with ash debris I could barely see the kitchen.  I had successfully deposited the contents of the fireplace onto our freshly painted white walls.  A million swiffer cloths plus a new coat of paint later and it's now a funny story, but to clean the faux stone I just used a brush because it was much less dangerous.

How to prep a stone fireplace for painting

Painting the Fireplace Stone

Once I had brushed off all the of the dust and loose concrete bits, I started painting.  Using a 2" angled brush I worked in small areas, brushing the paint into the seams and then loading up my brush with paint and squishing it in to every nook and cranny of the faux stone.

How to easily paint a stone or brick fireplace by @danslelakehouse
Painted Fireplace // Evening Hush (770F-6), by Behr

I basically pushed the paint into the stone, using a similar stippling motion as I would use for a stencil.  Then I swept the brush across the stone I was working on to catch any drips.  This way, although I totally trashed a lovely brush by the end, I was able to do the fireplace with one coat.  I just did a few touch ups at the end, adding paint to places I missed.  For the whole wall (including the wood, stone, mantles, and firewood storage cubby to the right), I used almost a gallon of paint. 

It took me a few afternoons of work, because I would get tired of the task and take a break and work on something else.  If you had a second set of hands, you could easily knock this project out on a weekend - maybe even an afternoon if your fireplace is smaller than mine.

How to quickly paint a fireplace - tips for making to job go quickly!
How to paint a stone fireplace by @danslelakehouse

Where the faux stone met the walls, and also where it met the metal vents, was tricky because the edges are uneven but so close to the wall I couldn't even slide newspaper or tape beside it to protect the wall.  A very small paintbrush from my art supplies box came in handy to apply paint to the edges with more control.

How to paint around fireplace vents

It's hard to photograph the fireplace because depending on the lighting, the grey really morphs into different shades.  Please ignore how much disheveled the living room is - we're getting there!

Fireplace painted dark grey //  Evening Hush (770F-6), by Behr
Tips for painting a stone fireplace
Dark grey fireplace
How to paint a fireplace mantle
How to update a fireplace for less than $100 // Budget-friendly renovating tips

Picking a Paint Colour + Finish for the Fireplace

When I first broached the subject of a painted fireplace, a few readers were worried the faux stone would look "flat," and I took this warning under consideration.  As a result, I wanted a paint finish with a bit of "life," so I went with a satin finish and it's perfect.  The light catches the facets of the faux stone and it kind of has a subtle glimmer throughout the day, keeping it from having that matte "painted" look.  The nicest part is the colour looks different as the light catches it, so sometimes it looks like I used a few variations of the same shade.

Paint a fireplace dark grey // @danslelakehouse
Charcoal grey fireplace // @danslelakehouse
How to paint a concrete fireplace
What kind of finish to use when painting a fireplace


At first I had a hard time finding the deep, dark shade of grey I wanted and we pondered so many swatches, but in the end I chose Evening Hush (770F-6), by Behr (Beluga was my second choice, but a smidge too dark we thought).  As a bonus, it was Hubby-approved.  Perfect.

Picking a shade of grey for the fireplace
My Mom, pondering some grey swatches
Charcoal grey painted fireplace // @danslelakehouse


More living room updates soon, as soon as the living room looks more like a living room.



UPDATE: See the "finished" (when is a home ever done?) space on The Lakehouse Tour.  Here's a sneak peek:

How to paint a stone or brick fireplace a deep charcoal grey - plus tutorial for how to paint fireplace doors and vents // @danslelakehouse
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58 comments

  1. Beautiful! Love that it looks matte and a little chalky!! If I had a stone fireplace, now I would definitely do the same thing. The white walls next to the dark fireplace is what dreams are made of!

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    1. Thanks Emily! Sometimes it looks a little sparkly/glossy which I love too. I am also loving the contrast between white walls and dark charcoal grey. I thought about painting the fireplace white too, but this way the vents and doors kind of blend in more.

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    1. Thanks!! I'm so happy with the result and, happily, so is Hubby (who was very opposed at first).

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  3. Wow this was a big project to take on. It looks great, very modern.

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    1. Thanks!! I was hoping to modernize the fireplace. Luckily it was pretty mindless work, even if it took awhile. It was only tricky at the edges. It was so satisfying, though, because the result is a pretty dramatic change.

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  4. It looks great! I've painted a behemoth of a fireplace/chimney in our living room and I know what a miserable time it is getting into all those nooks and crannies. I still have the other half to do (on our kitchen side) and this is definitely helping me work up the motivation. We used a satin finish paint as well, and I agree that the subtle sheen is a nice look!

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    1. Thanks!
      I'm sending some motivational vibes your way!!

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  5. I really half thought the whole area was going to end up mint green, haha ;). But seriously, I love how deep the color is and I think it looks amazing.

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    1. I contemplated something really colourful, but with a turquoise kitchen on the other end (in the works) it would look insane! In the end, I wanted something bold but neutral. I'm excited to have gone with something so dark, because normally I love white. This is such a departure for me! But there will be some mint green popping up in fun places . . .

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  6. That is very impressive! I think it's going to look so cool with some grey/white accessories

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    1. I am hoping our vintage postcards of Lake Superior in white floating frames will fit on either side (four and four). That would be such a nice punch and tie in the white walls. I've been too scared to measure, on the off chance they won't fit. We haven't moved our stuff yet but when we do I'll try them out. I'm looking forward to accessorizing.

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  7. It looks absolutely beautiful. I can already imagine it with some of your beautiful things on the shelves.

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  8. i love it! i would have never ever been brave enough to do this. looks great! now you to accessorize it up!!

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    1. It was easier because I had nothing to lose, I hated it before!

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  9. What an amazing transformation! And yes, it was cruel to make me wait all weekend, but totally worth it. How does hubby like it? How can he not love it??

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    1. Hubby LOVES it!! And now together we made an even bolder choice in another room. More teasing, lol.

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  10. Love it! It really anchors that end of the room.

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  11. I LOVE IT!!! It looks so sleek and stylish and what a great focal point in the room. And it doesn't darken your place one bit since you have high ceilings and those gorgeous windows bringing in the light. How does your hubby feel about the After???

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    1. Thanks! I'm so happy I've been able to experiment with this dark paint and you're right, the wall of windows made it doable. Hubby was won over and was so impressed when I showed him the finished fireplace (he wasn't there for the painting process).

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  12. wow, what an impact!! great choice of colour. Love where you're taking this place :)

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  13. Looks so good! It's so dramatic now - makes a statement in the room, for sure. Can't wait to see it styled with colorful artwork and decor. And I'm probably the only crazy gal on here who totally would've kept the brass. I'm deeply in love with brass right now, adding it all over the house.

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    1. Thanks E! I'm not opposed to brass but everyone in this tiny city has the same fireplace (it seems). I wanted it to be "me". Plus, I'm busy adding silver everywhere, lol. Swapping out the gold door knobs next. Wanna trade?

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  14. Astonishing! I loved the preview - you did a great job on the vents and the fireplace screen - so tricky to get right. But I had no idea the fireplace paint would have so much depth. You really did a great job. Can't wait to see what you do with the wall space and the mantel...

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    1. Thanks!! I think not going with a flat paint helped the fireplace look great. The concrete was really matte, but this paint has the tiniest bit of sheen which, on the rough surface, looks a bit like stone sometimes. A gamble, but it paid off.

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  15. What a beautiful transformation! It turned out so lovely- exactly what I would have hoped for if I were doing this, too. I am so smitten with white and deep greys- a beautiful neutral backdrop for any accent colour you choose.
    It will be exciting to see it come to life with your furnishings and artwork.

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    1. I can't wait to add some art and accessories, but everything is in Ottawa still! Helpful for working on things, unhelpful for when they are done and I want to style.

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  16. I forgot to add, I am pinning your before/afters. Because they're inspiration for a possible future fireplace redo and because I may to convince my guy, too.

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    1. Awww, thanks for your sweet comment :)
      You need a blog so I can see what you're up to!!! Have I said that enough?

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  17. Holy PATIENCE Batgirl! Love the anchoring effect, the white walls and huge amounts of light really pop it. I have been eyeing the classy brassy doors on mine, consider me motivated!

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    1. Haha, after some of the DIYs under my bat-belt, this was a walk in the park. Took some time, but it was easy work!! If you tackle your doors, good luck! If they are level when you paint them, this paint will work perfectly (and no priming needed).

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  18. Joining the chorus of "oooooh!" And glad it worked as you hoped. From the pics, it looks like the gray has also toned down the green in the tiles.

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    1. Yes, happily it has!! My Mom's keen eye picked up on the green in some of the greys I liked, which would have really highlighted the green in the tile. I'm just so happy the tile isn't dusty rose. At least I like green.

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  19. I have to admit, I'm not a fan. It looks like a black hole. If the pine panels on either side were painted white to blend with the walls I think it would look much better and make the fireplace a focal point. I do like the idea of it painted and I like the color....just not the dark painted panels.

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    1. Dad, is that you? Lol. My Dad also recommended painting the pine panels white but, in my opinion, it highlighted the shape of the fireplace too much and I don't like the shape - it's a bit dated. I love the result of a statement-making accent wall, hiding a fireplace. And once the furniture is moved in, a lot of the impact is going to be hidden. But to each their own :)

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    2. Ah ok, if you don't like the shape that makes sense then

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    3. No, not a fan of the shape. When (if?) we eventually re-do the whole thing, I'd love the whole wall to be the same material. Right now I'm leaning toward slate. But, again, that's just my preference :)

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  20. Love the black, you were very brave and daring but it works perfectly and the fireplace is like a canvas for the decoration of the room.

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    1. Thank you! I have previously avoided painting brick because I've been so worried it wouldn't turn out and there would be no going back, but I hated this fake concrete stuff so I figured there was nothing to lose. I can always repaint it a different colour, but right now the grey is so striking.

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  21. This is great! I would never know that the sides we the old wood paneling. The wall looks like one complete design now.

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    1. Thank you! I really wanted those to blend in. Some people suggested painting the wood white, which is a nice idea, but I chose to do it dark so it wouldn't "pop". I'm happy to hear it disguises the wood accents!

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  22. Hi! This is my first time here, but I had to post and say how great this looked! I really love it, you did a wonderful job!

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    1. Thanks Jessie! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. And welcome :)

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  23. I am getting ready to paint our fireplace white. Do you need special high temp paint?

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    1. For the doors and around the fire box - yes. I used Rustoleum High Heat spray paint:
      http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.ca/2013/10/painted-fireplace-doors-and-vents.html

      For the brick - no. I used a plain old primer and paint in one by Behr and not only was the coverage great, but there have been NO issues, and it's been two years. Well, my dog bit a piece off the actually stone (seriously, wtf?) and so I needed to re-paint that area, but the paint adhered to the stone perfectly - I'm thrilled with the results.

      Happy painting!

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  24. HI! I found this in a Google search to paint my stone fireplace. I LOVE IT! Just wondering--do you still have this same result and love it 2 years later? I have a 1950s ranch house with real stone fireplace that has a few cracks and this is what I want to do instead of a very expensive redo of the stone and grout. I hope this paint is till available. Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog. Thank you. P.S. My hubby fought me on painting the fireplace, too, until I showed him yours! -Debbie

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    1. Hi Debbie, so happy you've convinced hubby to paint your fireplace! Happy I could help :)
      Two years later, mine still looks amazing. My dog actually chewed the stone as a puppy and bit off stone and paint (how? and why?) so I needed to touch it up there but the rest of the stone still looks PERFECT. The wood paneling shrank in the winter (I painted in the fall, when it was still swelled from the summer) and so a few gaps of paint popped up but I touched those up in the colder months and now it, too, looks perfect. I have no regrets - it even cleans easily because the paint has a subtle gloss. For the stone I just used a primer + paint from Behr. Head to you local paint department and let them know what kind of surface you're painting and they can recommend the best paint. Just make sure you clean the stone before painting so the paint can adhere. Good luck with your project!

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  25. OOPS--one more question. Was this Behr paint ok to use all around the actually fire opening? I think I may have to take it slightly to the inside wall sides of the opening. OK to do so?

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    1. I did not take the paint anywhere inside the fireplace. I took it around the edges right to the fire box, but there's a bit of space between the doors/heat source and where my Behr paint starts. I have had no issues with my paint, but I'm not sure what would happen if it got too hot. Snap a photo of your fireplace and bring it to your Home Depot paint department where they can double check everything for you and make sure you leave with the right products.

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  26. Is this the EXACT paint you used? (It says exterior on can). If not, can you please post a link for me? Can looks different from what you show in picture, but it IS a couple years later! Sorry to be so anal--I just want to be sure. http://www.homedepot.com/p/BEHR-Premium-Plus-8-oz-770F-6-Evening-Hush-Interior-Exterior-Paint-Sample-770F-6PP/202179270#csku=204953354

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    1. What you've linked is an exterior/interior, so that should work really well and have great durability. It seems very similar - I used Behr Premium Plus, and that's Behr Premius Plus, but I can't tell if what you've linked is a primer + paint in one. Make sure you get primer + paint in one to save you some work. As well, that looks like a flat finish and I used a satin.

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    2. Got the paint! Getting excited? Did you use the same white paint on your walls throughout house? What did you use? Have a great day. :)

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    3. I AM excited!! I hope you'll share a photo with me when you're done :)
      I used a different brand of paint on the walls, but I colour matched it to Behr's Snowfall. So you could also use Behr paint for walls - it has great coverage. And yes, it's the exact same white in every room - even the trim is the same colour.
      Happy painting!!

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