How to whitewash a fireplace – a simple update with a major impact
The ambiance that a fireplace can bring to a home is pretty much unbeatable, and if you’re lucky enough to have a stone fireplace, then I say you’re in luck. But sometimes the beautiful stone fireplaces don’t match our decor, and if there’s one thing I know about decorating and DIY projects, it’s that almost anything can be transformed with paint.
So many times people think they are stuck with how a house looks because they don’t realize that it can be changed (or how easily it can be changed). Painting truly has magical powers, and from transforming furniture to lighting a room, there is almost nothing that cannot be brought to life with a paint bucket (including an outdated fireplace) .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here to explain how to whitewash a fireplace with a little paint and a little water, so that you can completely give an outdated stone fireplace a modern update. You may be familiar with the term whitewash from old stories about kids painting fences, but it’s certainly still alive and well.
If you are not familiar, whitewash is nothing more than a mixture of water and paint. In many cases, whitewash is a good alternative to painting, as it will give a more discreet and transparent appearance. It is often used to transform stone, and different ratios of paint and water will give different looks. The application process is incredibly easy, and a whitewashed fireplace can easily be completed in a weekend, if not a day.
I used lime to transform our fireplace a few years ago, and the finished product held up incredibly well. I wanted a lighter look for our stone, as ours was made up of brown and orange hues. Of course, I could have completely replaced the stone, but I was not interested in the price and workload of this project. So, I turned to DIY and decided to change the existing stone with lime.
How to whitewash a fireplace: what you will need
There aren’t a lot of materials you will need to bleach a fireplace. In fact, you may already have them all on hand!
- White paint (wall, ceiling or exterior paint will all work)
- The water
- A paint stirring stick, an old knife or something to mix your white wash solution with
- A brush
- A towel
- A protective canvas
How to whitewash a fireplace: step by step
Step 1: Prepare your workspace
For me, that basically meant placing a drop cloth under the fireplace to catch paint drips. This is a good idea because your white wash will be more liquid than the typical paint.
If your fireplace looks dusty or dirty, you can also cover it lightly with a clean, dry brush to remove any debris or dust, but no need to go crazy.
Step 2: Mix your paint
As I mentioned, 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 inexpensive as possible, so I used whatever paint I had on hand. It was a solid white ceiling paint, and it worked well.
The mixing process is as simple as pouring equal parts of paint and water into a larger bucket and stirring until well combined.
Step 3: Apply whitewash to the stone
Then I applied the whitewash mixture to the stone with a brush, dabbing and brushing it over the stone until I got a color I liked. I then took an old towel and wiped the stone a bit here and there to give the stone some dimension.
I continued this process until my stone was covered, and when the first coat was dry I applied another. The stone is porous and will absorb paint, so a few coats may be needed.
If you want to give your stone more dimension, you can also add a little gray paint to your whitewash and stamp the places you want more indented.
Frankly, that’s it!
The good thing about this process is that there really isn’t a right way to do it. This application process depends on how you want your own fireplace to look. If you want a subtle look, apply lightly, and if you want a more opaque look, I recommend applying a few coats and using a thicker whitewash (i.e. adding less water to the painting). Additionally, if the look you are going for is not white, you can brush with other neutral colors like gray or beige as well.
In my case, the finished product was a beautiful, bright fireplace that made a statement in our room in all good ways and fits well into our decor. And as always, the best part about painting is that if you change your mind later, you can still paint over it. I call it a lime win!