Tips for painting a fireplace hearth

Written by julie hampton
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Tips for painting a fireplace hearth
Update a tatty old fireplace hearth with paint and glaze. (Steve Ford Elliott/iStock/Getty Images)

Use a few simple paint tools and a variety of paint colours to transform an outdated fireplace hearth. Set aside several days to complete the project and always buy several paint samples to ensure the colours are appropriate for the room. Apply paint samples on to large pieces of cardboard and view them under different light conditions, such as morning, night time and artificial.

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Cleaning and sanding

Proper paint adhesion requires proper cleaning and sanding of the hearth before painting. Use a bristle brush to remove soot, dirt and grime created when the fireplace was in use. Warm water with a splash of washing-up liquid eliminates basic dirt. Use a heavier, all-purpose cleanser for more severe dirt. A small toothbrush or cotton wool ball dipped in cleaner removes grime trapped in tight corners and hard to reach places.


Add glaze to a fireplace hearth after painting for an antique or washed look, as well as additional dimension. Stir together 250 ml (1 cup) glaze and 125 ml (1/2 cup) of latex paint. Dark umber, espresso or chocolate tinted paints create a rich glaze visible over light-coloured hearths. Alternatively, use white, ivory or even metallic paint colours over dark painted fireplaces. Blend the two colours together with a wood paint stick. Brush the glaze mixture on to the fireplace hearth. Wipe the glaze off by gliding a clean paint rag in one direction on the hearth's surface creating a glazed or washed on look. Glaze settles into the nooks and crannies of the hearth.

Top coat

Top coats protect fireplace hearths from dirt, fingerprints and everyday wear and tear. Always use clear polyurethane or a water-based top coat. An oil-based top coat eventually yellows. Apply the coat with a fine bristle brush or sponge mini-roller. Roll a light even coat without applying any pressure. The top coat may initially be cloudy or hazy. The unclear look associated with the top coat usually disappears once the clear paint dries. Avoid painting on very humid days -- trapped moisture also results in the top coat turning white. Allow between two and four hours between each coat, and ensure each coat is fully dry before adding any additional layers. Remember, the sheen level of the top coat will be the sheen level of the fireplace hearth.

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