Painting Brick Chimney 101: Homeowners Ultimate Guide

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Painting is a nice way to give back life to your old, worn-out brick chimney. But painting a brick chimney is not always a great idea.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about painting your brick chimney. We’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of painting brick chimneys. There is also a step-by-step guide that you can easily follow.

Can You Paint Chimney?

You can paint the interior wall of your chimney and make it look fresh and aesthetically pleasing. But you might want to think again if you’re talking about painting an exterior brick chimney.

Most homeowners think that painting brick chimney exterior will improve its look and add a protective layer over its surface. This layer will protect it from moisture and other environmental elements.

While it’s a great theory, that’s not how things turn out in reality.

Don’t Paint the Exterior Wall of Your Brick Chimney

If you paint the exterior wall of your brick chimney it will kickstart a degradation process.

While the paint on your exterior wall stops water from getting inside, moisture can seep inside your chimney through your chimney crown. Internal water condensation is another source of moisture.

When moisture gets inside the chimney, it starts to deteriorate the brick-and-mortar structure. The freeze and thaw cycle begins, which cracks and crushes the bricks and the surrounding mortar.

While this process occurs regardless of the paint, things get worse when you paint the chimney exterior.

Usually, the water that seeps inside evaporates, which minimizes the deterioration. But with paint covering the walls, evaporation is not possible. So water gets trapped inside, creating a moisture build-up that rots your chimney from the inside.

Within a year of applying paint, you’ll notice that chunks of paint start to fall off. Even if the paint looks fine, it’s likely that the structure beneath has lost its structural strength. In such cases, the deteriorating paint is the only thing holding it together.

In such cases, replacing a few missing bricks or chimney repointing is not enough. You’ll need to rebuild the entire chimney.

Since the interior wall of your brick chimney is not exposed to water that much, painting it should not pose any issue.

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Staining: An Alternative to Painting Brick chimney

Instead of painting your exterior brick chimney, you can opt for brick staining.

Painting forms a layer over your brick chimney exterior that prevents moisture from evaporating, causing many problems. Brick staining allows you to color your chimney while also letting it breathe. It protects your chimney from environmental elements and prevents water from seeping inside. Brick staining also lets inside moisture evaporate.

Instead of forming a layer, brick staining sinks into the brick structure. That is why you won’t see chunks of it peeling off. Brick staining retains the original texture of the brickwork and lasts much longer than paint.

How to Prepare the Interior Brick Chimney for Painting?

Before painting the brickwork, do the following to make it ready for paint:

  • Clean the brickwork. Apply a pressure washer on the brickwork to remove any dirt, flaking, or loose mortar from its surface and between the cracks. Make sure the pressure washer is set on low.
  • If your brickwork has a gloss or glaze, lightly apply 100-grit sandpaper.
  • Once your chimney is clean, see if there are any loose bricks or missing chunks of mortar.
  • Tuck point the missing mortar to ensure that your chimney is in good condition.
  • Give the chimney time to dry completely before starting to paint.

How to Paint an Interior Brick Chimney?

Disclaimer: The following guide gives you an understanding of how to paint your chimney. We recommend hiring a professional for the job. While doing a DIY paint job is possible, it leaves room for error. So, it is best to let the professionals paint the chimney. 

What You’ll Need?

  • Block filler
  • Paint
  • Drop cloth/painter’s tape
  • Ladder
  • Paint roller/paint sprayer
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper
  • Cloth (for cleaning)

Step 1: Drop Cloth

  • Place a drop cloth at the base of your fireplace to prevent ruining the surrounding areas. You can also use painter’s tape, if available.

Step 2: Apply Block Filler

  • Get a latex, high-temp block filler primer and apply it across your fireplace and chimney brick structure. Make sure that it completely covers the surface.
  • Applying a primer is important. The primer makes the porous and irregular brick surface smoother. This allows the paint to adhere better.
  • If a single coat of primer doesn’t work, apply another.
  • You can either spray the primer, use a roller, or a brush.
  • Let the interior chimney brickwork dry.

Step 3: Paint

  • Once dry, open your box of paint and start painting the brickwork.
  • Again, you can either spray the paint across the wall or use a roller or a brush.
  • Whatever method you use, make sure that you apply the paint evenly across the surface.
  • If you’re using light-colored paint, you may have to apply more than one coat.
  • Give the chimney time to dry in between coats.

Step 4: Final Touches

  • Use a paintbrush to paint any missed spots.
  • Remove the drop cloth or the painter’s tape.
  • Get a wet cloth and clean any paint splashes.
  • Let the paint dry.

What Color to Paint Your Exterior Chimney?

Neutral colors such as Black, White, and Light Gray are the most popular colors for a chimney exterior.

Whatever color you decide on, it should compliment your house’s color scheme while also reflecting your personal preference. How your chimney looks on the outside will not only bring kind compliments from your neighbors, but it will also increase the value of your house.

You can either choose a color that makes your chimney stand out from the rest of your house or choose one that blends it in.

Choosing a monochromatic color scheme is the safest bet. All you have to do is choose a different shade of the same color for your house and chimney exterior.

But if you want to get a bit more creative, you can try contrasting colors for your house and chimney. When choosing contrasting colors, ensure that your chimney’s color is not too overwhelming.

What Kind of Paint to Use on Your Chimney?

Different types of chimneys need different types of paints for the best possible results.

For brick chimneys, use heat-resistant latex paints. The paint should be able to handle temperatures up to 200 °F.

For metal chimneys, it’s best to use acrylic latex, oil-based, or lacquer paints that are rated for high heat. Different formulas are available for the chimney interior and exterior.

Enamel works best for wooden chimneys and lasts longer.

Since different types of chimneys need different paints, homeowners can get confused. So it’s a good idea to let the chimney professionals handle the job and decide which paint to use.

How Long Does a Chimney Painting Last?

Painting brick chimney gives it a fresh look, but just like house paint, it needs to be refreshed every 5 to 8 years. If you keep your chimney well-maintained and clean, you can prolong your paint’s lifespan.

Your paint’s life also depends upon the kind of climate you have. If you live in harsher climates, your chimney paint will need a redo sooner than it would in better climates.

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How Much Does Painting a Brick Chimney Cost?

It costs around $600 to $1800 to paint a chimney exterior. If you want to paint your interior chimney wall and fireplace, expect to pay around $400 to $900.

You can buy masonry paint for around $25 to $30 per gallon and a primer for $15 to $20. The rest of the supplies will cost around $150 to $200. This should include painter’s tape, paintbrushes, rags, etc.

Labor will cost you around $150 to $200 per hour, depending upon your locality and the ease of accessibility of your chimney.

Doing a DIY project will save you labor costs, but it does not give you the satisfaction of a well-done job. Let an expert paint your chimney rather than do a poor job only to save a few hundred dollars.

The Takeaway

You can paint your interior brick chimney and fireplace. But painting your exterior brick chimney is not a good idea. It will trap moisture and deteriorate your chimney much faster. The paint on your exterior chimney will start to fall off within a year, and the structure beneath the paint is likely to lose its integrity.

Brick staining is a much safer alternative to painting. It changes the color of your exterior brick chimney and does not trap moisture inside. Brick staining also lasts longer than paint.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.