This is how to whitewash a fireplace – a simple update with a big impact

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The ambience a fireplace can bring into a home is pretty much unbeatable, and if you are lucky enough to have a stone fireplace then I say you are lucky enough to be. But sometimes the beautiful stone fireplaces don’t match our interior, and if I know one thing about decoration and home improvement projects, it’s that almost anything can be transformed with color.

So often, people think that they are stuck with the look of a house because they don’t know it can be changed (or how easily it can be changed). Color really has magical powers, and from transforming furniture to brightening a room, there is almost nothing that cannot be brought back to life with a can of paint (including an outdated fireplace).

Stone is no exception to this rule, and I’m here to explain how to whitewash a fireplace with a little paint and a little water so you can give an outdated stone fireplace a modern update. You may know the term whitewash from old stories about children painting fences, but it is certainly still alive and well.

If you don’t know it, whitewash is nothing more than a mixture of water and paint. In many cases, whitewash is a nice alternative to paint as it gives a more subdued, transparent look. It’s often used to transform stone, and different ratios of color and water make different looks. The application process is incredibly simple and a whitewashed fireplace can be easily achieved in a weekend or even a day.

liz hartmann white chimney beforehand

(Photo credit: Liz Hartmann)

I redesigned our fireplace with whitewash a few years ago and the finished product held up incredibly well. I wanted a lighter look for our stone as ours is made up of browns and oranges. Sure, I could have replaced the stone entirely, but I wasn’t interested in the price and workload of this project. So I turned to DIY and decided to change the existing stone with whitewash.

How to wash a fireplace white: what you need

There aren’t many materials that you need to collect in order to whitewash a fireplace. You may even have them all on hand!

  • White paint (wall, ceiling, or exterior paint all work)
  • water
  • A stir stick for paint, an old knife, or something to stir your white washing solution with
  • A brush
  • A towel
  • A drip cloth

How to wash a fireplace white: step by step

whitewashed fireplace

The chimney after whitewashing

(Photo credit: Liz Hartmann)

Step 1: prepare your work area

For me, this basically meant placing a drip cloth under the fireplace to catch paint drops. This is a good idea as your whites will be more fluid than typical color.

If your fireplace looks dusty or dirty, you can also lightly treat it with a dry, clean brush to remove any dirt or dust, but you don’t have to go crazy.

Step 2: mix your color

As mentioned earlier, whitewash is a mixture of paint and water, and in my particular case I decided to mix equal parts water with paint. I wanted to keep the process as cheap as possible so I used every color I had on hand. It was a plain white ceiling paint, and it worked out fine.

The mixing process is as simple as pouring equal parts of the paint and water into a larger bucket and stirring until everything is well mixed.

Step 3: apply whitewash to stone

Next, I applied the whitewash mixture to the stone with a brush, dabbed and brushed it onto the stone until I got a color that I liked. Then I took an old towel and wiped the stone a little here and there to give the stone a certain dimension.

I continued this process until my stone was covered and when the first layer was dry I applied another. The stone is porous and soaks up the paint, so some coats may be required.

If you want to add dimension to your stone, you can also add a little gray paint to your whitewash and dab it in places that you want to look more recessed.

Honestly, this is it!

The beauty of this process is that there really is no right way to go. This application process depends on what you want your own fireplace to look like. If you want a subtle look then apply it lightly, and if you want a more opaque look I recommend putting on a few coats and using a thicker whitewash (i.e. putting less water into the paint). If you don’t opt ​​for a white look, you can also use other neutral colors like gray or beige to cover it up.

In my case, the finished product was a beautiful, bright fireplace that made a statement in our room in the right way and went well with our decor. And as always, the best part is about paint: if you change your mind later, you can still paint over it. That’s what I call a whitewash win!


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