OK, OK, let’s get this taken care of right off the bat. When some of you saw this title, you either said to yourself, “Nooooo! Never paint stone!” or you thought, “Well, of course I’m going to paint it!” I really think that painting an outdated-looking brick wall or fireplace can modernize the space while keeping the original texture can give it a fresh new facelift without having to replace the masonry or cover over it. To paint or not to paint brick and stone can be a bit of a polarizing topic. So if you like your masonry au naturel, then that’s totally cool, but if you’re into the painted stone look (I totally am), then you want to do it right the first time so you don’t end up with a peeling mess later.
Prep the surface: Use a coarse wire brush to gently scrub the surface of the brick or stone. This will help loosen and remove any loose dirt or chips of stone before you paint. You can even use some 100 grit sandpaper to smooth any areas as needed.
Clean your stone: Use a nylon bristly brush or sponge to clean the stone with either water and vinegar or a cleaner like TSP that will remove grease from the stone. Go over the stone again with clear fresh water to help rinse the stone and allow to dry overnight before painting.
Prime the stone: Although it’s totally a pain to prime surfaces (I’m always looking for a way to get around it when I can), using a primer on the stone will really help your main paint stick to the masonry like it should. Choose a primer designed for masonry (like this one) so you know it will adhere to the stone, and let your primer fully dry before painting.
Paint the stone (with the right applicator): Depending on the pattern and severity of texture in your masonry (flat fronted brick to jagged edged stones), you may need a different tool than usual to apply your paint and primer. If you have flat to medium texture in your brick or stone (like my fireplace above), you can use a roller that is designed for masonry. It’s probably the fluffiest roller you’ve ever seen, but it’s designed that way to hold a lot of paint (stone soaks up paint) and get into all the crevices. If you have a pretty textured stone with lots of nooks and crannies (like my last fireplace), you’ll want to use a sponge soaked with paint (no really!) and a brush to push the paint into all the deep areas. Make sure to protect your floors and nearby walls when you paint—there’s a lot of potential for dripping!
There’s usually a standard of finish when you are painting a surface. Like, you usually choose satin paint for walls, flat for ceilings, and semi-gloss for trim and doors, but for stone, I say you can do whatever you like. I tend to think that lighter colored painted stone looks better a bit shinier and dark stone calls for more of a flat finish, but try a test area first and see what you like.
I painted the inside of my firebox with a high-heat paint (like this one). While it’s commonly done and that’s usually what the home improvement store will recommend to you, technically that’s not what the manufacturer recommends it for. So that’s a do-at-your-own-risk step.
You can see Elsie’s painted brick in her sunroom above. Doesn’t it look amazing?!?
This is the second house where I painted the fireplace (you can see my other living room here), and both times I’ve been so happy with the result. Of course you have to feel pretty confident about your choice because there’s no going back to bare once it’s painted, but it’s a look that goes really well with lots of design styles. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the best reward for all my hard work is getting cozy by the fire. Prepare the hot chocolate! xo. Laura
Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.