How to Paint a Fireplace Surround

Satin and flat paints are not resilient to smoke stains.
Satin and flat paints are not resilient to smoke stains. (Image: fireplace image by askthegeek from <a href=''></a>)

If you want to paint a fireplace surround, consider a few important factors before starting. Because most fireplace surrounds are ill-suited for adhesion, they require special preparation. Since all surrounds are not composed of the same materials, each requires a slightly different preparation strategy. You also must choose the proper base coat, depending on the nature of the surround, or you'll end up with a finish that eventually sheds and peels.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty fabric dropcloths
  • Blue painter's tape
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic latex primer
  • Galvanized metal etching primer
  • 3- to 4-inch latex paintbrush
  • Semi-gloss or gloss acrylic latex paint

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Cover surfaces beneath the fireplace surround with fabric dropcloths.

Apply low-tack blue painter's tape to areas on and adjacent to the fireplace surround that you do not want painted.

Scour previously painted and bare fiberglass or marble fireplace surrounds with 220-grit sandpaper to encourage adhesion. Sand the surround until it feels gritty. Skip this step if the fireplace surround is bare metal, stone, concrete or wood.

Coat the fireplace surround with an acrylic latex primer, using a 3- to 4-inch paintbrush intended for use with water-based coatings. Apply a galvanized metal etching primer if the fireplace surround is made of metal. Wait four hours for the primed fireplace surround to dry.

Wash your brush with water.

Coat the primed fireplace surround with a semi-gloss or gloss acrylic latex paint. Apply paint to the fireplace surround just as you did the primer. Wait two hours for the painted fireplace surround to dry. Add another coat if you can still see the primer.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may use a flat or satin acrylic latex paint to coat a fireplace surround. However, these paints are not as resilient to smoke stains.
  • Do not paint a bare fireplace surround, or the finish will peel.
  • Do not paint over unsanded previously painted, bare fiberglass or marble fireplace surrounds, or the primer will peel.
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