How to Cover a Brick Fireplace

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How to Cover a Brick Fireplace. Covering a brick fireplace can really change the feel of a room. Perhaps the style of the brick too dated for your taste, or the brick shows discoloration from many fires. There are two easy ways to cover a brick fireplace; you can paint the brick or install tile over the brick. Choose to paint over the brick for a relatively quick fix. Opt to tile over the brick for a more elegant design element.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Drop cloth
  • Latex-modified thinset cement
  • 1-inch by 4-foot board
  • Trowels (straight and notched)
  • Tiles
  • Dropcloth

Paint

Prepare the brick. Rub it briskly with a wire brush to remove any dirt or loose mortar. Use soap and water to scrub the brick, rinse and allow to dry.

Prime the brick using a commercially available primer made especially for brick and other porous surfaces. Some regular interior latex primers may work as well. Talk to a knowledgeable paint retailer to make sure you get an appropriate primer. Apply one coat of primer and let it dry thoroughly.

Choose a high quality latex acrylic paint in any color you want. Select the finish (flat, satin, semi-gloss) based on your preference.

Paint the brick using a roller with a ¾ to 1-inch thick nap, or use a large paintbrush. Touch up any hard to reach areas, like mortar cracks, with a small paintbrush. Let the first coat dry and apply a second coat of paint.

Tile

Prepare the brick by scrubbing with a dry wire brush to remove any dirt and loose mortar. Wipe off any soot with a rag soaked in white vinegar. Allow to completely dry.

Nail up a 1-inch by 4-foot board so that the top of the board is in line with the top of the firebox. Use this as a temporary ledge to set the first row of tiles against until they dry so they are perfectly even.

Mix latex-modified thinset cement according to package directions.

Apply the thinset cement with a straight-edge trowel to the brick on the top of the fireplace. Work the cement into all of the cracks and mortar joints and trowel smooth. Allow to dry. If the joints are still visible after the first coat has dried, apply another thin coat of the cement to fill them in so that it is perfectly smooth and even. Allow the second coat to dry overnight.

Use a notched trowel to apply a final layer of thinset cement.

Set your tiles into the wet thinset cement. Lay the bottom layer first, right on top of the 1-inch by 4-foot board from Step 2 and work your way up.

Remove the board once the tiles on the top have dried into place, and then repeat Steps 4 through 6 to lay the tiles going down the sides of the firebox.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lay down a drop cloth before you paint to protect your floor.
  • Close in a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace by installing sheetrock. Use cement nails to attach 1-inch by 4-foot boards to the mortar, building a frame around the fireplace, leaving 12 inches for tile installation around the firebox open. Attach plywood to the 1 by 4's, and sheetrock on top of the plywood. Install tiles on the inside 12 inches of the firebox as instructed above.

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