How to Black Wash a Brick Fireplace

There is a multitude of reasons why you may want to black wash your brick fireplace. It could be that you are just bored of the tired old inglenook and its rustic orange glow that you’ve been looking at for years or maybe you’ve just moved house and don’t like what’s already in situ.

Whatever your reason we can help. From what methods to use to what materials you’ll need we hope you’ll find our step-by-step guide helpful in transforming your fireside.

What Methods can I use to Black Wash a Brick Fireplace?

Ultimately this is going to be down to personal preference with an added spoonful of experience. If you are a seasoned DIYer you may already have a liking for certain painting techniques. If you are a complete novice, then the easiest way will likely be the best option.


You can use a paint sprayer to paint black wash your fireplace and will be the fastest option. We recommend the Wagner Spraytech 0518080 which is available on Amazon.

Ensure that you protect the ceiling and walls from overspray by using drop cloths, masking tape, and lightweight plastic sheeting. You must also protect yourself by wearing safety glasses and a dust mask.


A roller will take more time than a spray gun as you will likely need to paint the grout lines first. As the roller is flat as you maneuver it over the brick the paint will stick to the brick face and not embed into the mortar.


Brushing is the most traditional way of black washing your fireplace and probably the easiest if you are new to DIY. Grout lines and brick face will be best done separately for the best coverage and overall finish.

Whilst you are using a brush, the technique you will be best to use for the perfect finish will be ‘dabbing’ (Although not in the Cam Newton sense).

Brushing will be the most time-consuming method and you may struggle to get into every grout line until you get your momentum going.

What Paint will I need to Back Wash My Fireplace?

You can buy fireplace-specific paint which will be the most appropriate to use. However, you can also use masonry paint or an indoor, heat-resistant, latex paint. Ensure that your paint is able to withstand temperatures produced by your fire which will be around 200°F.

The finish is a personal choice, but we would recommend a flat or matt finish for a fireplace which will give the impression of a warm glow on the brick face.

If you are painting the firebox, you will need a separate paint specifically made to withstand high temperatures. If you use the incorrect paint the finish will chip and blister due to the extreme heat which is generated inside the firebox.

You may or may not choose to use a primer first. A primer can help to protect against future soot stains and will show off a lighter color better.

We would advise checking out the reviews on your chosen paint before you go ahead with the purchase and if ever in any doubt speak to your local paint or fireplace specialist.

What Materials will I need to Back Wash my Fireplace?

Alongside your chosen method of application and of course, the paint, there are various other resources that you may need. Not all methods will require everything listed, equally the list is also not exhaustive.  

Canvas Drop Cloths

Drop cloths are large sheets of fabric used to protect surfaces from spills and drips when painting your home. They can be used to cover countertops, furniture, flooring, and more.

They can be machine washed but ensure you clear the sheet of any debris beforehand and wash it on its own.

Scrub Brush

A hard bristled brush with a plastic or wooden handle used for cleaning harder surfaces. The hard bristles work well at reaching the crevices between the mortar lines whilst being just as effective on the brick face.

They can be used with water and detergent. To clean use water and white vinegar or even run through the dishwasher.  

Chip Paint Brush

Chip brushes have a wooden handle, natural china bristles and are often disposable. They are not only perfect for paint but are an ideal solvent-resistant brush.

Lint-Free Rags

Lint-free means that the cloth will not leave behind any residue such as fluff or fibers. This is important when dabbing off excess paint to ensure a smooth finish.

The best lint-free materiel is cotton. Lint-free rags can be washed but ensure that you use warm water, not hot, and a gentle detergent.

Protective Equipment

Protective equipment is entirely optional, but your own health and safety should always be paramount. Some equipment is there specifically to protect your clothes whilst some are to keep you safe.   

Coveralls, Overalls, and Shoe Covers

Coveralls are usually disposable and, as their name suggests, protect your whole body with sleeves and legs. Conversely, overalls have only a bib and straps at the top leaving the arms exposed, and are not usually one-use.

Shoe covers are disposable and made to wear over your normal footwear. They can be to protect a floor from dirt and detritus that may be on your shoes or to protect your footwear from spray and drips when painting.

Disposable Gloves

Wearing gloves will protect your hands from staining, drips, and spray when painting. When prepping your fireplace, they can also protect against any cleaning solutions that you may be using.

Nitrile gloves will offer the best protection against both paints and organic solvents.

Dust Mask

Dust masks are advised for preparation work such as sanding or if you are sensitive to chemicals that are contained within the paint you are using.

However, should you be spray painting then a paint respirator is advised. A paint respirator will prevent you from inhaling microscopic particles when using the sprayer.

Safety Glasses

To protect from spills, drips, and sprays safety glasses are most important if you are using a spray gun to paint. They can be goggles or over the glasses if you are already a spectacle wearer. Alternatively, you can use a full-face shield.

Step by Step Guide to Back Washing your Brick Fireplace

  • Your first job is to prepare the area around your fireplace. Anything you wish to protect should be covered with drop cloths. Remove anything that may be on your fireplace such as mantles (although you can cover and tape this) cables, nails, or hooks.
  • Cleaning the fireplace before you paint is imperative! Any dust, detritus, or cobwebs can leave a lasting imprint on your finish if they are not removed. It also may stop the paint from sticking and can chip easily.

You can use a broom or vacuum cleaner first to remove any dust. Then using a scrub brush and warm, soapy water (or any degreaser) you will need to scour every recess and crevice, every corner, and hideaway. Leave to dry.

  • Now is the time to mix your paint. Start with a ratio of 2:1 paint to water. This will require a little trial and error as will depend on how porous your brickwork is.

If you are spray painting your fireplace, ensure you are wearing the correct PPE and follow the instructions on your paint sprayer in order to achieve the best finish.

If you are using a brush, it is advised that you work in sections. First, paint the grout lines by dabbing the brush into each recess. Ensure that you don’t overload your paintbrush with paint.

Within the same section, once the mortar is painted continue onto the brick face. Use a lint-free cloth to pat off any excess paint. You can use either the same brush or a roller to paint the flat surface of the bricks always ensuring that excess paint doesn’t drip into the grout lines.

Work around the fireplace, keeping in sections, until the whole unit is covered.

If you require a two-tone wash you will first need to paint the fireplace in the lighter color that you wish your grout lines to be by following the steps above. We recommend a mid to dark gray.

Once the base color is dry you will need to apply your black wash. Mix the paint as above. We have found that using a square-edged sponge is the most effective way of applying paint to the brick surface with minimal leakage into the grout lines.

Dip your sponge in the black paint and lightly swipe horizontally from left to right. As the sponge is flat, providing it is not overloaded with paint, it should keep the paint on the surface only.

Repeat until the whole unit is covered.

  • Leave to dry overnight. The brick will continue to absorb the paint even if it appears dry. We recommend that you do a second coat for the best finish.

DON’T FORGET: Before and after pics are a must so you can show off and admire your handiwork for years to come.