Whitewashing a Brick Fireplace: So Easy a 5 Year Old Could Do It (And Did!)

I am so very excited to share this little project with you guys because I am so seriously proud of my little girl. Talk about a born to DIY chick! She saw me prepping the fireplace for this project and she immediately wanted in, so here we go!

Fireplace Whitewashing

It’s not that absolutely hated the fireplace…it’s that I complete loathed it! Red brick and a fairly modern looking mantle just aren’t my thing. I know once my hardwood floors go in, this is going to look even funkier with all the darkness around it. I wanted to lighten and brighten up this fireplace and I knew the best way to do it was to give it a white wash.

Fireplace Whitewashing

I didn’t want to flat out paint the brick. I really hate painted brick. It looks almost plastic to me, but hey, some people like it so more power to them. For me, I wanted to keep the feel of brick, real brick, but get rid of the red tone on it. I also really wanted to destroy that boring mantle with all the modern lines in it…so I did. So, while you see it taped off as if I am going to paint around it, fear left my body and I grabbed a crowbar and made quick work of removing it. I didn’t take any pictures, because it happened late at night and was last minute but rest assured it’s gone now.

My first suggestion to anyone about to whitewash brick is to clean the dickens out of it. Seriously, fireplaces are dirty things. And painting over dirty things is not a good way to go because as soon as you go to wipe it down to clean it later, the finish comes up as the dirt comes off. So get a soft bush, some water and scrub that baby. Be gentle though…especially with older brick. That stuff can be brittle and you don’t want to damage the brick. I’m sure there are some stronger cleaning solutions and even some you can make at home, but water worked well for me and I didn’t have to worry about any weird smells or leftover chemicals to dispose of.

Time to mix the white wash. Remember, we aren’t trying to paint the surface of the brick. We’re looking for a light wash only. So, you don’t want to put paint straight up on the brick. Get a small bucket or handheld container and put in an even 50/50 mix of water and white latex paint. I used what I had leftover from painting the bottom half of my dining room below the chair rail. Mix it up well and have a damp rag nearby for wiping.

Fireplace Whitewashing

I suggest starting at the top and working your way down. This is thin stuff and it will drip. Get a nice big brush and start painting the wash onto the brick.  Immediately wipe with the wet rag, leaving a thin coating of the wash on the brick. You may find it handy to keep a bowl of water nearby to keep ringing out your rag as you go along.

*Note: Definitely make sure to lay down some protective plastic and/or tape things off. Since we were under construction and had no floors installed yet we didn’t bother but make sure you protect anything you feel necessary.

Fireplace Whitewashing

This was such a great project and so easy that my 5 year old handled it solo…with minor checking in and help with splatters she couldn’t keep up with. I attempted a few times to try and help her simply because it was drying faster than she was wiping, but I was met constantly with “I got this mom.”

Whitewash Fireplace

We have gotten plenty of compliments on it so far and most can’t believe that she handled this all on her own.

Fireplace Whitewashing

She was quite proud of her work and we totally high-fived at completion.

Fireplace Whitewashing

I love how this turned out! It’s lighter and matches our grey decor a lot more than the red brick without having to fully paint it white, losing the detail of the brick.

 

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