Brick Fireplace Surround Updating

Large, room-dominating brick fireplace surrounds are fairly common in Ranch style houses, and houses built any time from the 20s to the 80s. While they make beautiful, eye-catching additions to many homes, sometimes they don’t always work with the rest of your interior design. Rather than tearing it down and starting all over, however, there are a few ways you can update that brick surround to help it blend in with the rest of your décor without a major renovation.

Tile over Brick

Did you know that you can tile right on top of a brick fireplace? It’s true. You can install anything – glass mosaics, polished marble, hand painted Craftsman tiles – right on top of the existing brick to completely transform the room.

The secret is to create a smooth surface on which to adhere the tiles. This means applying a light coat of thinset mortar on top of the bricks and mortar lines to smooth it out. Wait 24 hours for this to dry, after which you can install any type of tile as you ordinarily would right on top.

Paint Your Brick Fireplace

If you like the texture of the brick, but the color or tone doesn’t match the rest of your home, consider painting them. Latex paint can be applied right on top of a brick surround, and it will also smooth out the surface. Because brick tends to be dark, you may want to consider painting them lighter – light gray or off-white – to really get the biggest impact. Painting a lighter color will not only update the surround, but brighten up the room as well.

For a very dramatic and contemporary look, consider going over your brick fireplace with a glossy black instead, but only if the room gets a lot of natural light. Be sure to not weigh down the room if it isn’t naturally bright.

Whitewash Your Brick Fireplace

If your brick surround is making your living room look too dark, but you like the look and texture of the brick overall, consider whitewashing them.

To whitewash your brick, apply a very thinned-down light paint to the surface so that it can be absorbed into the bricks’ pores. The key is to dry brush the paint on so that it goes on unevenly, allowing some of the bricks’ natural color to show through. This preserves the overall look and feel of the brick but lightens it up considerably to help brighten the space.

Build out Your Fireplace

This option takes a little more construction and work, but is a great method if you want to change the look but keep it possible to go back to the brick later. You can extend the wall around your fireplace slightly forward to cover up the brick, preserving it behind. Your contractor can build a frame over the brick, then drywall that frame, resulting in a more substantial mantle and surround.

Alternatively, you can also use stone slabs to form a surround and mantle right on top of the brick. Stone tends to be lighter and softer in color but can evoke a stronger, more solid impression.

Update Your Surround

If you’ve grown tired of your brick fireplace surround and are ready for a change, don’t call the wrecking crew in just yet! Instead, try one of these less invasive methods of updating your surround, and bring your interior design into harmony.