DIY White Wash Brick Fireplace: The Pros and Cons

whitewash brick fireplace

Whitewashing a brick fireplace is an excellent DIY project. If you have followed my remodeling journey then you know that I love the process of whitewashing stone or brick fireplaces. I have had the opportunity to do both and love the final look. Whitewashing is a great way to give your fireplace a fresh, modern look without going through the expense and hassle of a full remodel or gut renovation.

And the best part is that you can do it independently without needing a professional painter or remodeler. The whitewash process is very simple, and with the right materials and techniques, you can add a beautiful touch of character to your home.

However, before taking on such a project, there are pros and cons to consider. So if you’re thinking about whitewashing your brick fireplace, I am sharing all the things you need to know before you DIY white wash a brick fireplace and the best technique.

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whitewash brick fireplace

What is Whitewashing?

Whitewashing is the process of applying diluted white paint over the existing brick giving it a subtle washed-out effect. Whitewashing helps to soften the natural look of the brick while updating its appearance.

Pros of White washing A Brick Fireplace

whitewash brick fireplace

Low, Cost-Effective Solution

Whitewashing a brick fireplace is quite affordable and doesn’t require a significant investment of time and resources. It is an inexpensive and easy way to give the room an entirely new look, as all that’s needed is paint, water, a brush or sponge, a bucket, and drop cloth to protect your floors. The entire process cost me approximately $25 to complete. If I were to hire a professional it might run hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Additionally, it can be done with minimal disruption to the home’s existing layout and architecture.

Easy and Quick Process

Whitewashing a brick fireplace is a surprisingly straightforward and easy DIY project. You can have your brick fireplace looking brand new within a couple of hours. It took me a half day to complete mine and that’s because I took meticulous time.

Update the Look of a Room

Whitewashing gives your brick fireplace an entirely new, modern look without any major renovation. This means you don’t have to worry about needing more complicated and expensive repairs, like replacing the bricks or undergoing complicated structural changes. Whitewash helps to accentuate your existing brick fireplace in the living room or bedroom and bring out its full potential and character.

Whitewashing a brick fireplace won’t crack like paint will when it gets older and it will hide any imperfections or discoloration in the brick caused by weathering, age, or neglect. Whitewashing brick will help to soften the look of a room and add texture, making it a versatile design choice. This makes it ideal if you hope to give your room an updated look without the hassle.


Whitewashing provides plenty of opportunities for customization when it comes to creating your unique style in your home. Depending on how thick you apply the paint mixture, you can create different effects ranging from subtle highlights to more dramatic full coverage looks.

You can also mix different colors together or add texture with special tools for even more customizing options so that your finished project matches perfectly with your desired aesthetic.

It lasts a Long Time.

When you whitewash your natural brick fireplace you are practically breathing new life into your fireplace. This fresh new look will last for years to come – possibly up to 20 -30 years.

It’s a Permanent Change.

Whitewashing your fireplace is a permanent change. Because brick is porous, once you make the change, there is no return to the original brick look.

Cons of Whitewashing A Brick Fireplace

whitewash brick fireplace closeup

Risk of Uneven Application

Whitewashing requires some preciseness as it requires the paint to stick evenly to the brick. If not done correctly, it can result in an uneven finish, with some areas receiving more or less paint than others. This can leave visible brush strokes and ridges that appear unprofessional or out of place.

The technique requires you to have good control over the amount of water-to-paint ratio you’re using, as well as precision in applying it evenly across the brick surface. Too much water can create drips, while too little will lead to an overly thick texture that won’t blend into the brick properly.

Because of this difficulty level, it’s easy for amateur painters and decorators to make mistakes that create an unsatisfactory finish compared with professional results.

It is Trendy

While I don’t think this look will go out of style anytime soon, whitewashing is currently on trend. That means that there is a chance that it can get dated over time with trends. However, most interior designers agree that this trend is here to stay and will stick around for a while.

Whitewashing brick has been a popular design trend in many farmhouse, coastal and contemporary-designed homes. With its rustic, shabby-chic look it complements a variety of design styles.

It May Require Several Coats to get the Desired Look.

Once you apply the whitewash, depending on the look that you are going for, you may have to reapply a few more coats to get that perfect look. The best practice is to test the whitewash mixture on an area of brick. Testing will allow you to see the paint-to-water ratio to ensure you are satisfied with the opacity and the look of the brick.

May Not Be Suitable for Older or Historic Brick Fireplaces

Finally, when whitewashing older or historically important fireplaces, it’s essential to take extra care as these surfaces are usually delicate and require special treatment. It’s best to seek professional advice if you wish to whitewash a fireplace like this to preserve its original beauty while still achieving your desired design objectives.

How to DIY Whitewash Brick Fireplace

brick fireplace

Supplies Needed

  • White Latex paint
  • mixing bucket – 5-gallon bucket for mixing ingredients
  • large sponge brush – for distressing
  • small brush
  • microfiber cloths and rags
  • paint stirring stick or anything that can stir the paint mixture
  • dish soap or white cleaning vinegar
  • painters tape – protection for floors and walls
  • drop cloth or newspaper
  • water

Most of these supplies you can grab from home depot, lowes, or any local paint or hardware store.

Step 1: Prepare your brick fireplace.

Clean up the brick surface by dusting and wiping it down with a damp soapy cloth removing any gunk or visible dirt buildup. You can also clean it with some white vinegar – white vinegar makes an excellent alternative as a cleaning solution. Protect the surrounding areas, such as floors and walls. Use painter’s tape and drop cloth or newspaper along the fireplace’s trim and base.

The painting process can be messy and drippy, so cover any surfaces that you do not want to get paint on.

Step 2: Create the paint mixture.

Create the whitewash solution for application to fireplace brick. For every 2 cups of water, use 2 cups of paint color (2-2 ratio of paint or 50 percent latex paint / 50 percent water mix) to get better results and the right consistency of watered-down paint.

Step 3: Paint the grout lines.

Paint the grout lines with a paintbrush (no primer needed). Use the smaller paintbrush to fill in hard-to-reach areas and edges, especially if it’s black grout.

Step 4: Paint the brick. 

Take the paintbrush and begin painting the brick. Right before the brick dries up, immediately take a clean rag or cloth and blot off the excess paint to allow the brick to show through slightly. How much you bloth will rely on how much of the brick you want to show.

Try to work on small areas and sections at a time. Continue the process until the fireplace is complete with a consistent look.

Step 5: Let it settle and dry.

The drying process is relatively quick, but allow it to dry overnight. You can always go back and access how you really feel about the look.

white wash brick


Other methods used for whitewashing brick fireplace

While my preferred method for whitewashing brick is using latex paint with the right ratio of water, there are other methods that can be used to refinish your brick fireplace. Other methods include:

Limewash – This process involves crushed limestone, which is mixed with water to create a paint-like substance. It is a natural, mineral-based solution that results in a matte texture (similar to chalk paint), creating an earthy appearance with lots of texture. This process may require retouching every 5-7 years because it does erode over time.

German Smear or Schmear – The process of German Schmear requires partially covering the brick by smearing mortar across the brick’s face. German smear doesn’t penetrate the brick’s surface; instead, it simply covers it. It will give the brick a contemporary yet rustic appearance.

German smear adds a touch of European sophistication as this finish mimics the look of century-old castles and cottages in Germany with its heavy mortar joints.  It is also referred to as a Mortar Wash, which is precisely the same as a German Smear. In choosing German smear vs whitewash, it all comes down to personal preference and available supplies.

Why whitewash vs. paint a brick fireplace?

Whitewashing is super easy to do, and painting your brick will take more prep time and precision to complete. When painting, there’s no need to dilute the paint with water or bloth the brick. Rather, you just apply the paint, as is, with your brush.

Whitewashing lets you keep the texture and depth of brick surfaces while softening the brick’s tones. With whitewashing, traces of the brick’s color will surface beneath the thin diluted paint, making for a brighter modern appearance.

What’s an ideal paint to whitewash brick?

Hands down, latex paint is the best paint to use to whitewash red brick. You just need to choose the right color of white paint that works best for your fireplace and space. A can of paint should do.

Is whitewashing brick a good idea?

Whitewashing a brick fireplace can be a great way to update the look of a room and achieve a lighter, more rustic aesthetic. The process of whitewashing involves diluting paint or a similar solution with water and then brushing it onto the brick surface. This whitewashing project gives the brick a light, washed-out appearance that can complement various design styles, from farmhouse to coastal.

However, it is essential to consider the condition of the brick and the type of brick before deciding to whitewash it. Some types of brick are more porous than others and may require additional preparation, such as cleaning and sealing, before being whitewashed. Additionally, older bricks may have cracks or other damage that should be repaired before applying the whitewash.

Is whitewashing bad for a brick?

Whitewashing a brick fireplace is not inherently bad for the brick. The process of whitewashing involves applying diluted white paint over the existing brick, giving it a subtle washed-out effect. If done correctly, it can actually help to protect the brick from further damage and discoloration.

Does whitewashing brick last?

The longevity of whitewashing a brick fireplace depends on several factors, including the type of whitewash method used, the frequency of cleaning and maintenance, and exposure to the elements.

In general, a well-maintained whitewashed brick fireplace can last for several years. However, the whitewash will eventually start to fade and may need to be reapplied to maintain the desired look.

It is important to keep the brick clean and to repair any cracks or damage as soon as they occur to help extend the lifespan of the whitewash.


The bottom line is that painted brick can be an excellent choice for adding a unique and timeless look to your home or addition. Whitewashing brick is relatively simple and cost-effective, making it an ideal option for those seeking to upgrade their homes without breaking the bank. Whitewashing can be a great way to modernize your home.

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Hi! I'm Tamara White