Fireplace whitewash

I decided, before I went to bed last night, that I’d do all kinds of cool home-improvement type stuff while The Husband was at work today— maybe tear out the nasty shower doors in the guest bathroom, whitewash the fireplace, organize…stuff.

And then, I woke up. After noon. Oops.

So, I put a load of clothes in the wash and then the perfunctory facebook check… which lead to lots of Pentatonix-watching on YouTube all the way up to the time when Joel got home. Zero painting or organizing or demolition. The Husband, being the handy guy that he is, headed outside (after working—on a Saturday!) to pull weeds and chop down tree branches and whatnot. I felt guilty for sitting on my butt, even though snippets of Britain’s Got Talent was fascinating.

Whitewashing the fireplace seemed to be the most satisfying venture out of the available possibilities. Here’s what it looked like before:


This picture was taken at some point during Escrow. I’d admit—from the very first, I’ve hated this fireplace. I’m not a fan of wood burning stoves in the first place, and this giant hearth literally takes up a quarter of my living room. I have all kinds of (expensive) plans for knocking this beast out and installing a corner fire place, but for now, it’s got to stay.

When I first envisioned white washing this monstrosity, I found inspiration and tutorials all over pinterest. Mostly, I wanted my plain brick to gain some character, without being so whitewashed that it looked pink or…I dunno, washed out. Lots of tutorials suggested watering down latex paint to various degrees. The ones that seemed too white suggested one part water to one part paint, so I went with one part paint and two parts water.

I bought a sample jar of latex Cottage White from Valspar. The thing was under three dollars, which is awesome! I bought a little paint bucket too that had lines in increments of 4oz and used that. I poured the paint up the the 4oz line and then filled up to the 12oz line with water. Mix, mix, mix. And GO!


I started out trying to clean the brick with the same type of stuff you wash walls with before you paint, but I soon realized the futility of it. The fact is that brick just soaks up any moisture, and it was just as effective to wipe down the brick before I painted as it would be jumping through all kinds of hoops. Besides, if the paint flakes off later, it’ll just look more weathered and have more character. Yep.

The whole thing was really easy, if not a little awkward and very time consuming. Brush paint on half a dozen bricks or so, then go back with a rag and blot/rub out the brush marks. Half of my rag was wet (for smudging out lines that dried too much before I got to ’em) and the other half, dry. It worked really well, I think.


Oh—quick note: I stirred the paint pretty often. You could see it separating enough to look kinda swirly.

I’m telling you, the hardest part of this process for me was creating the randomness of it. My bricks aren’t as irregular as I’d like. They’re mostly smooth with fewer imperfections than is ideal, and this meant that unless I wanted them all to look the same, I’d have to do more paint in places than others, rubbing it off or allowing it build up. That’s where the wet rag came in: if things started to look too uniform, I just went back and rubbed around a bit.


Isn’t she pretty? I didn’t do the base. Why? Because my arms are tired. And the base is dirtier than the walls and top, so I’ll have to really wipe it all down first. I’ve got plenty of my paint sample left, so I won’t have to buy any more. 🙂 And if I slack off and never get it done, well…that’s okay too. 🙂

What do you think about the paint swatch, here? Is it a go? I want the wall to be kind of a silvery color. This has got a bit of green in it: paintswatch


One thought on “Fireplace whitewash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s