How to Update a Brick Fireplace

 
 
A friend of mine recently bought a house and was desperate to cover up the eye sore of a fireplace in the corner of her living room.  Luckily she’s an artist and was able to come up with a really creative way for how to update a brick fireplace, without having to paint it. Personally I’m not a fan of painted brick but I loved her solution: concrete stain.  This is super easy DIY project and it only takes about an hour to do two coats AND complete the whole project.
 
Here’s what you need:
Concrete stain from Home Depot (they have lots of color options)
Paint brush the same width as the brick (or as close as you can get)
Paint Roller
Tray
 
Step 1:  Pour concrete stain into the tray and using the roller paint the stain on the walls.  Press lightly so that the roller doesn’t get down into the grout.  Brick is very porous so it will absorb the stain quickly.
 
Step 2: Once the walls are stained use a paint brush to paint the stain onto the bottom bricks.  Using a brush the same width of the bricks will keep the stain from dripping down into the grout lines.
 
 
Step 3: Let the 1st coat dry and then apply a second or third coat until the stain reaches the richness of color that you desire.
 
Are you ready to see my results?  Here’s the before.
 
And here’s the after.
 
Doesn’t it look awesome?!  Staining brick is quicker and easier than painting brick and it gives you such a beautiful result!

Click here to see how a bunch of my readers have updated their brick fireplaces!

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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Discussion

  1. 3
    Kimmerenpl says:

    Hi Anna,
    Can you please find out what the color of the stain used in the very bottom picture is? It’s the caramel colored fireplace. Do you happen to know?
    Thanks so much! I love that color!!
    Kimmer

    • 4

      She actually used the same stain that my mom and friend did! The color is Loden, it looks different on each of the fireplaces because each of them started with a little different colored brick.

      If you stain yours I’d love to see before and after pictures!

      Anna :)

  2. 5

    any idea if this works on outdoor brick/stone? this could save a huge amount of money! :)

  3. 7

    I am so excited to find this post! My husband and I have been looking at our ugly yellow and black bricked fireplace since we moved in 10 years ago. Everything was either too expensive or too drastic. We’ll be trying this sometime this month and I’ll make sure to post before and after pics. I can’t wait to get started on this! Thank you so much for the idea.

  4. 8

    If the brick has already been painted, how did you go about staining over it? Or did you have to first remove the paint? If you had to remove the paint, how was that?? I saw in some of the photos, some of the bricks had been painted white, but there wasn’t any mention of that being a problem? Thanks!

    • 9

      Sorry I’m just getting back to you! I think staining over the paint would be fine. Depending on the color of the paint it might even give you a darker, more modern look. If you wanted to go through the hassle of removing the paint you could but I think it would be more work than it’s worth. I hope that helps. :) I always love to see “after” pictures so if you end up using this technique I’d love to see the finished result!

  5. 10

    Amazing!! Your fireplace looks fantastic! You used wood stain? How is it holding up? I’d love to update our fireplace – without having to cover the brick! Can you tell me what brand and color wood stain you used?

    • 11

      The stain is holding up fantastically! It’s been about a year since I did it and it still looks great. I can’t remember the brand of stain I used but it’s in a yellow can with black writing. You can purchase it at any Lowe’s or Home Depot.

      Have fun staining your fireplace! :)

      • 12

        We’re pulling up our carpet this weekend and putting in our floors – so it’s the perfect time for me to stain our fireplace! One last question for you – do you use your fireplace regularly? I’m just wondering if the stain has any reaction to the heat.
        Thanks again!

  6. 13

    Hi, thanks for this tutorial, we recently purchased a home with a very old looking fireplace with dingy bricks and I would love to update its look by staining the bricks! I just have two questions, in the picture the can of stain says semi transparent, Ive also seen concrete stain in solid..so we need the semi transparent one? Also, you mention first using a roller and then a brush, can we just do the entire thing with a brush?
    Thanks again!

    • 14

      You can pick whichever stain you prefer. I’ve done it with wood stain & concrete stain, so I think it just depends on the look you’re going for! You can totally use a brush for the whole thing, that’s how I did mine. I think the roller is just to save time if you have a ton of brick. :)

      Good luck!

  7. 15

    Thanks so much Anna! And do you think it will still look good if I dont choose a “brick” colour, but change it to either white or a light gray? And if I did do white/gray, should I also paint the lines between the bricks?

    • 16

      Hi Anna – I would also like to change my red brick trim on driveway to gray without a “painted look”. Do you think a couple of coats of HomeDepot concrete stain would suffice and should I use their bonder first? Thank you.

      • 17

        I’m not sure what bonder is, I’ve never used that before. I think just staining the brick should be fine. Since it’s outside I would ask the guys at HD if there is something you can put on top of it to seal it. Good luck! :)

  8. 18

    Hi Anna! Thanks for osting this, I am going to do tomorrow, I kept looking at painting our fireplace until I saw this… this is great!
    Thanks!

  9. 20
    nelson isenhower says:

    How do I stain a darker brick to match a lighter brick?

    • 21

      Hmmm, good question. You could try acid washing it to lighten the brick and then re-staining it to match. I’ve never had experience with this before but that’s where I would start.

  10. 22

    Hmmm….this is intriguing. We’re about to buy a house with a massive 70′s brick fireplace. I like this solution, except that the mortar on THIS fireplace is black. No matter how I stain the bricks, the mortar will still be black. Makes for a very dark massive thing in an already dim room. I wonder if I can just paint the mortar, and then stain the bricks….

  11. 23
    DruAnn McPherson says:

    I think this is my solution. Just inserted a beautiful Jotul wood insert. The brick, however, looks like something from the Brady Brunch. Do you paint the entire wall first so the grout gets a new neutral color then do the bricks? Or did you leave mortar/grout alone and handpaint each brick. I want a mixed combo of red intensities and grey. Do you vary color with different colors or do repeated coats to darken?

    Tanks
    Dru

    • 24

      None of us have painted our grout in the B/A pictures on this post. My grout was super ugly but once I stained the bricks it seemed to kind of disappear. :) I haven’t seen anyone vary the color of stain but it might look cool to do that. I used the same stain for all of my bricks but since they were all originally different colors that still showed through once they were stained. I’m not sure if this really answers your questions, but I hope it helps. I think no matter what stain you use you can’t really go wrong. Anything is better than an ugly outdated brick fireplace. :) When I did mine I was shocked at how much more modern and clean it looked! :)

  12. 25

    I did this and I am beyond thrilled with the results! The folks who lived in my home before must have tried the white wash or something; whatever they did, it did not go with my theme for the house now. The stain I used is from Lowe’s, Olympic Maximum brand in the darkest stain I could find – Canyon Brown.

    I’m not sure if html is allowed, but if so, here are my before & after:

    If html is not allowed, click the link to see.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v98/deaker/Untitled.png

    Seriously stoked with how it looks now!

  13. 27

    Such a great finished product. I think this is just what my fireplace needs to give it that new look.
    Al recently posted..New Home New bedMy Profile

  14. 28

    Anna, great post! Do you have any advice on painting the metal doors surrounding the fireplace? Our brick is nice but the door enclosure is an out-dated gold/copper color. I’d love to paint it black but didn’t know if this is possible or if that would have any sensitivity to heat. Any thoughts?

    • 29

      Yes you can paint the brass on your fireplace! We did it. You just use Rustoleum High Heat paint (also comes in a spraypaint). Can find at HD or Lowes!

  15. 30

    Do you know if this would work on exterior bricks of a home?

  16. 35

    You can do this on the exterior of your house,right? My house is a bit of an eye sore.. Not the property just the brick… So ugly! I want to be approaching my house on the way back from anywhere and be like “that house is so pretty… wait! it’s mine! yay!”

    • 36

      Yes, you can absolutely use it on the outside of your house. It’s concrete stain so it’s made to be used outside. If you do it please send me a before and after picture, I’d love to see it on the outside of a home!!

  17. 37

    Ok I LOVE this idea!!!! I have a fireplace……an UGLY fireplace!!! I live in a modular home and the fireplace is like prefabricated concrete rock look alikes. Some are blue-ish and some sort of white-ish then some are almost black. Just hate it!!! I have red in my kitchen which is just off the family room. Want desperately to make my fireplace not such an eyesore! HELP!!!!

  18. 39

    Just wondering what my options might be if I’ve already painted my brick fireplace. Can I put the stain over top?

  19. 41

    Can I do this on limestone

  20. 43

    Any ideas on how to clean off excess concrete/mortar from bricks? I think the brick guys didn’t wipe it off enough when they did the brick work….. thanks for your help!

  21. 45
    Vicki Griffith says:

    Hi Anna,
    Can this technique be used on a tiled kitchen counter and backsplash? If not…any suggestions?

    Thank you.
    Vicki

  22. 47
    Laura Townsend says:

    Dear Anna,
    I have a fireplace that has black grout. I want to stain the brick and get rid of the black grout. What would be the best way to do this? Thanks.
    Laura

    • 48

      If it were my fireplace I would white wash the grout and stain the brick. I think lightening up the grout will make it look more modern.

  23. 49
    ROBERT SCHEIPERPETER says:

    WE HAVE AN OUTSIDE ENTRYWAY WITH CEMENT PAVERS. WE HAD A FIRE TWO YEARS THREE YEARS AGO AND A LOT OF THE DIRT WAS CARRIED OUT OF THE HOUSE AND THE PAVERS ARE MORE DISCOLORED (PROBABLY FROM DIRT) IN CERTAIN AREAS. WE WOULD LIKE TO BRING BACK THE ORIGINAL COLOR. WOULD YOUR PRODUCT DO THAT. SEEMS LIKE IT WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR HEAVY OUTSIDE USE AND ALSO SEEMS EACH BRICK WOULD HAVE TO BE PAINTED INDIVIDUALLY AND THEN WOULD BE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO NOW GET SOME IN THE MORTOR JOINTS. THANKS BOB SCHEIPERPETER

    • 50

      If you want to get the original color back to your pavers you should clean them with a pressure washer. This trick will stain them to whatever color your choose. It’s totally made for outdoor use because it uses a concrete stain which is made for outdoors.

  24. 51

    Im super happy to have found this. We are updating our living room and I hate painted brick but I also hate the color of our brick….im so excited to stain it using this method!!! Ill take before and after pics!

  25. 52

    Great tip using concrete stain on brick. I have a customer who used wood stain on his stamped concrete. I think it would be the same finish. The best part of the wood stain on stamped concrete is that it was not as slippery as the normal sealer that is used on stamped concrete.
    Great blog Anna!

  26. 53

    Wow! What a difference. Looks so rich and elegant~

  27. 54

    I have a brick wall in my laundry room that the previous owners painted white (boo). Can I stain over the white paint, or how do I restore it back to brick?

  28. 56
    Caryn harmsworth says:

    So happy I found this! I stained our brick wall surrounding our fireplace and it looks great! Where can I send you a before and after pic??

  29. 58

    Hey Anna,
    I was wondering what’s the difference between the semi-transparent and the solid color stain? I’ve been reading that several people used semi-transparent and it looks great. However, the people at HD told me to call Behr to double check. I did and they told me that the semi-transparent wasn’t meant for vertical surfaces so I should use the solid color stain. I want my fireplace to look newer and bolder but still natural. I’m afraid the solid color will look more painted on. Any thoughts? Have you noticed any real drawbacks of using semi-transparent?

    • 59

      I honestly didn’t even know there were two different kinds of stain, good to know though! I know Behr said it wasn’t made for vertical surfaces but I haven’t heard of anyone having any problems with it. Personally I think just about any stain would work, I used a dark wood stain on mine and I thought it looked amazing. I suggest finding a color you like and just going with that. :)

  30. 60

    Hi there-
    I recently went to home depot and got the exact stain you have photographed to also stain my fireplace and I have put 2 coats on so far and haven’t noticed a change. I’m wondering if im doing something wrong since there are so many wonderful before and after pictures of everyone using this same method. Also from your photo it looks like the brick instantly gets darker the moment you paint that and its not happening with mine. If you could tell me want you think i’d really appreciate it, thanks!

    • 61

      Hi Allie! When we stained my mom’s fireplace it took a couple of coats to see the difference. I remember it not looking that different up close but standing back there was a big difference. If you don’t think it’s dark enough them maybe go with another stain color. I used wood stain on mine and I love how dark it turned out! I hope that helps. :)

  31. 62

    This was just what I needed! Thank you. I have an old fire place and have not been able to figure out what to do with it! I am doing this, this weekend. Thank you for the information.

  32. 63
    BarbaraHensley says:

    I have a stone fireplace and it needs a facelift…any ideas?

  33. 65
    Erin Hawkinson says:

    What an awesome idea! Thank you for sharing! I have a fireplace that the previous owners painted white…would I be able to do this and just use stain over it??? Thanks!

  34. 67
    Penny Smith says:

    What about a clear coat or something to go from dull to more “clean” looking. There are a couple of those I like the color of the brick better before, but it needed sprucing. I am still considering painting my brick. Going darker never seems like a great idea.

  35. 68

    Anna,
    If I buy the Behr concrete stain, does it come in Loden or do you have to have it mixed?

  36. 70
    Vickie Pedigo says:

    I’m really excited about trying this. However I’m concerned because the brick on the front of my house is VERY textured. Do you think it will turn out as nice as your examples? what type of brush should I use?

    • 71

      Some of the brick on my fireplace was really old and very textured also, I think it will turn out just fine. You could always try it 1st in a spot that isn’t very visible. :) I wouldn’t use a natural bristle brush, I would buy the other kind because it’s more durable. I would LOVE to see a picture when you’re done!

  37. 72

    We have a floor to ceiling barn-door-red brick fireplace. Is there a stain that you think would tone down the red-color of the brick? I was thinking of white-washing it, but so many people are against painted brick and we want to be able to sell the house in a few years. What do you think?

    • 73

      I definitely think staining the brick is a much more natural-looking way of updating brick. The brick on our fireplace was really red, and ugly before we stained it. I think probably any color of stain would be an improvement. :) I would try to stick with the more tan/brown colors though, nothing colored or orangey.

  38. 74

    Will this work on outdoor brick?

  39. 76

    Just did this to my fireplace today! Except in addition to using concrete stain for the brick I also used an exterior concrete paint for the grout and it looks like a brand new fireplace!

  40. 78

    I want to do this on my parents home that my husband and I bought before they passed. He says NO but I hate the Pink brick from the 50′s! So thanks for showing him it can be done!

  41. 79

    I REALLY like your tutorial on painting the brick! I have an entire WALL of brick where my fireplace is…and I would like to do this. Only question is…..what if the brick is multi-colored? Will it all stain the same….or will I still get a mottled effect, as opposed to making it all look the same????? I appreciate you time…thanks!

  42. 81

    I would love to stain the brick at my house! However the brick has white specs all over it, will this effect the stain?

  43. 83
    Renee DePace says:

    Could I do the same on exterior brick post, what would I need to put on over it to protect it from the elements?
    Thanks…

  44. 85

    I was wondering how long this stain would last on the outside without being sealed. Maybe concrete sealer that is used for driveways? Could you stain the block around the base of the house with it? It seems that you could paint the grout with it. If the bricks are medium shades to light, and different colors, are you saying they will by varying colors after they are stained? I was thinking of a darker grout with a lighter stain for the brick. Do you think that could be done?

  45. 86

    Yes. I hadn’t thought about staining the brick but I think that would be a great idea. As for the different shades of brick, if you want to try to even out the colors just do more coats of stain on the lighter bricks.