If you’re wondering how to paint a stone fireplace, check out my tutorial! It’s somewhat tedious but not hard. Learn how I gave my ugly stone fireplace a makeover by painting it and replacing the mantel.
Learn how to paint a clunky stone fireplace!
Before I get started on this tutorial, first let me acknowledge that I KNOW some of you are going to hate me for this post! And I’m sorry. Kind of. I mean, not really. Because I love how this one turned out. But painting stone and brick is a touchy subject.
But let me tell you what…when we moved into this house, I knew that I had to change something about this fireplace. (I know the TV is too big, but that’s low on the priority list.) I thought about removing the stone, but that seemed messy and time-consuming.
So I decided that painting it would be the best bet. I actually thought that painting the whole fireplace—including the brick surround and the stone—in a single color would give it a uniform look. So I picked up some masonry/stone paint in black and impulsively got to work one night.
Here’s the before! You can see the original brick surround that someone painted gray. Then the stone, which is a veneer. The stone was adhered around the white mantel shelf, too, which means I’d need to deal with that as well. But more on that in a bit!
So here’s what I used:
- Behr Black Flat Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Paint (it comes in a red can)
- Medium and small paintbrushes
- Painter’s tape
- Handheld vacuum (this is the vacuum I have), broom, or both
- You may need: wax paper, a roller designed for rough surfaces
And here’s how to paint a stone fireplace!
Step 1: Clean the stone
Before you get started, you’ll need to clean the stone. It’s hard to tell exactly how dusty it is, but I took a broom and brushed it all over the veneer to loosen the dust.
Next I used a handheld vacuum attachment to clean off the stones again to get anything I loosened up but didn’t knock onto the floor. After everything settled, I ran my vacuum over the area all around the fireplace.
Step 2: Begin painting!
I put this off for a few days because jumping in and starting the painting made me SO nervous! There was no turning back if I hated it. Finally one night after work I decided to paint the interior brick surround as a first step.
I used Behr’s Ultra Pure Black Flat Interior/Exterior Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Paint. It goes on really easily with a brush or roller, and painting the small brick surround was a breeze. In the first picture below, you can see how the paint looks wet.
The second picture shows it dry, which doesn’t take too long at all. It kind of seems to soak into the bricks a bit. This truly does dry super matte, which is exactly the finish I wanted.
That gave me just the amount of confidence I needed to jump into painting the stones. And let me tell you what—this was a MUCH more time-consuming process than painting brick! The stone veneer has big gaps between each stone, meaning tons of nooks and crannies.
Ugh. I had seen some people paint their stone fireplaces using super nappy rollers designed for rough surfaces. I got one, but once I started painting with a medium-sized brush, I realized that my stone was WAY too uneven to use a roller.
So, while the paint went on really easily, it was SUPER tedious. I essentially had to paint each individual stone. Luckily I needed only one coat on each stone. Then I went in and did touchups on areas that didn’t cover completely.
Step 3: Touch up spots and paint in cracks and on the edges
I decided to paint the cracks and areas between the stones after I painted the face of each stone. You could do the cracks and corners and then go back in and do all of the stone faces.
To get into the areas between each stone, I essentially just loaded up a smaller brush with a crapload of paint and shoved it in. If there is some excess paint, it should sink in and dry. I didn’t have many problems with drips.
You can see that the type of brush I’m using is more for smaller painting projects. It’s actually a brush from a craft store, not a home improvement store. Some of the bumpier stones also required this same technique—loading up the brush and essentially smashing it onto the stone!
To prevent (too much) paint from getting on the white area around the fireplace’s stone veneer, I slid a sheet of wax paper in the very thin space between the stone and the wall. Then I taped them in place using painter’s tape.
This is also a neat trick I like to use when painting baseboards! Wax paper fits really neatly between most baseboards and floors. I do recommend removing it while the paint is still wet, though—on areas I didn’t remove it right away, it kind of stuck to the stone and I had to use tweezers to get it out.
Replacing the painted fireplace’s mantel shelf…
I am not going to cover the mantel in this post—I will do a separate post about that. But I did want to at least mention is since you’ll definitely see the difference!
After I was done painting the stone veneer black, we pulled down the existing mantel shelf and built a new one. I also touched up paint all over the stones and along the edges of the white shelving.
As a final step, I painted the gray stone base white. It was painted gray to match the inner brick surround. I initially wanted to do it black, but I quickly realized that would look really dumb with the white shoe moulding around its perimeter.
For this one, I just used the same semi-gloss white latex paint that was on the trim. And I took the time to repaint the trim to brighten things up, too. (Actually I noticed some of it was never painted to begin with, so it worked out nice!)
And here is my final painted stone fireplace!
I love it SO much! The new mantel really ties it together, and I definitely don’t think the black is too dark. It’s a statement, and I love a black statement wall! The white built-ins around it brighten things up while the wooden mantel keeps things warm.
Choosing paint for painting a fireplace surround
You might be wondering—as I did—if you need to use a special paint to paint a fireplace surround. I do recommend using something designed for brick or masonry, though it isn’t totally necessary. I have seen a zillion painted brick fireplaces that use regular latex paint.
You might also be wondering if you need to use a heat-resistant paint. And the answer for that is…it depends. Our fireplace is not functional, though we are considering adding a wood-burning stove insert this fall. We’ll see.
The inside of my fireplace was already painted black, likely using something like a high-heat paint. As for the surround, though—you’ll be good without it!