Should You Whitewash a Brick Fireplace?

Should You Whitewash a Brick Fireplace?

Are you thinking about whitewashing your brick fireplace? One thing that most people enjoy is the charm of a fireplace in your home. New fireplaces are made in countless different ways with various materials including brick, stone, and tile. But if your home’s fireplace is original brick, it may need some updating. It may appear worn out and void of its beauty.

To avoid a costly replacement, you may be wondering if whitewashing, a popular painting technique would spruce up your hearth. Before you decide what should be done, consider the benefits of whitewashing. 

Whitewashing Vs Painting 

If you want to preserve the natural look of the bricks while giving them a renewed look, then whitewashing is the way to go. The bricks will absorb the whitewash, but maintain their natural look with parts of the brick showing. Some people may prefer using paint instead of whitewashing. While there are all kinds of paints available they may not give you great results, especially if you desire your brick fireplace to maintain its natural appearance. With paint, your brick fireplace will be covered with thick latex that will hide the texture. Coating your brick fireplace with a wash of paint will revive its appearance and give you a stunning makeover.

Can I Buy or Make Whitewash?

Commercial whitewashes and limewashes are available. Usually, these washes are a mixture of white or colored pigments mixed with minerals and water. If you want to make your own, there are many recipes online. A simple one is to take any water-based paint and add water. A 1:3 paint-to-water ratio will give a thin, translucent coating on your bricks.

Benefits of Whitewashing 

Revive its beauty

Instead of pulling apart your entire fireplace and replacing it with a new one, you can try to whitewash it and see how it works out for you. One of the qualities of whitewashing is that it will give your fireplace a neat look without muting the natural texture and patterns of bricks. You can purchase a whitewash or alternatively make your own. The final color tone could be anywhere from bright to translucent depending on the concentration of the mixture you use and the number of coats you apply. The higher the number of coats, the opaquer the surface will look.

Give It Some Color

Some people may prefer giving their brick fireplace a colorful look with the help of different colored paints. There are countless types of paints available in the market but most of them will entirely cover the bricks and their natural texture will be lost. Your fireplace will look like an ordinary wall because the latex paint will actually make a thick layer on top of your bricks. It will also cover the grout between the bricks. You don’t have to use latex paints just because you want to give a colored look to your fireplace. Instead, you can give color to your limewash by adding dry colored pigments at the time of preparing the mixture. 

Affordable and Easy To Do

Whitewash and limewash are very affordable. An entire house can be whitewashed for approximately $80 whereas painting can be pretty expensive. Painting your fireplace will require priming. However, whitewash does not require any priming. All you have to do is clean your fireplace properly and apply the whitewash mixture. Tools that will be used such as brushes and rags are inexpensive. Properly painting your walls or home requires a certain level of expertise and you may have to hire someone to paint your fireplace, whereas coating limewash is a simple process that you can do yourself and you do not need to hire anyone. Moreover, a proper whitewash will last anywhere from 5-7 years and you can always recoat it without removing the existing layer.


Whitewash is eco-friendly and does not contain any harmful chemicals unlike other types of paints. It is prepared with very simple and readily available ingredients. Moreover, limewash is high in alkalinity and therefore resists the growth of fungus. So you will not have to worry about growth of fungus and mold on walls and other surfaces. Whitewashing also offers great protection against climatic conditions and weather changes. It is also considered to be resistant to stains caused by insects.

Easy to Prepare and Apply

Preparing the limewash mixture in the right ratio is imperative for the coating to look neat and last for long. The texture of the mixture should be water like, not thick or viscous. The whitewash should be exactly like milk. This is a very simple process and the ratio which is most commonly used is 20% hydrated lime (by weight) and 80% water (by volume). For instance, if you are using a 50 lb bag, the volume of water you will require is 30.5 gallons, that’s because one gallon of water weighs 8.33 Lbs. The resulting solution will be sufficient to whitewash a 1600 square feet area. 

You need simple tools to whitewash your fireplace including protection gear, a paint brush, a bucket, wire brush and that’s all. Once the mixture has been prepared, you can simply dip a large paint brush and start coating the brick fireplace. Another benefit of using limewash is that if there are any small holes in the wall, limestone itself is enough to fill them up, however with latex paints this would require you to use putty for filling. Once a coat has been applied, you can wait for it to dry properly and apply as many as three to four coats. This will ensure that the brick fireplace develops a desirable look which may last for years.

Easy Maintenance

If because of some reason the whitewashed surface develops any type of stains they can be easily removed by a damp cloth. If you need to remove the limewash coating, you can conveniently do it by using a pressure washer. The ease and cost of maintenance is considerably lower than maintaining a surface painted with latex or other types of paints.

Durability & Long life

Limewash is actually more durable than other types of paints. Both cement and lime chemically bond with bricks strengthening them in a way, unlike latex paints which only forms a coating. It is also considered to be self-healing and has the ability to heal cracks and small holes.


Whitewashing your brick fireplace can give it a new life complimented with a beautiful appearance at a very affordable price. Your fireplace usually is the center of attraction in our living rooms, standing out among other decorations. Not only does it look beautiful, but is a symbolic representation of warmth and comfort. The application of whitewash is so simple that this could be your next DIY project.