Monday, April 29, 2013

Brick: To Paint? Or Not To Paint?

January 2013

After I finished staining the mantel I spent the week applying the poly protective coats.  It took three coats that I applied with a foam brush.  By Thursday, I knew I could no longer ignore the lower portion of our fireplace.  This was my dilemma: I love brick, heck I am from Virginia.  Our clay soil means we are the biggest producers and users of brick in the US (I just made this fact up, but it could be true).    Our brick had problems- big problems. One, it was not the nicest brick, just kinda of a boring 'I am brown' brick, not that I was going to hold it against it.  Worst, the mortar was pink, yes, pink.  Urgh I hated that mortar.  On top of all of that: the brick was covered with 80 years of soot and general dirty house funk.  Just to remind you what the brick was looking like:      

I had some choices.  I could clean the brick. There were several methods I found online that were home made and involved a lot of elbow grease.  There were also several expensive solutions I could purchase where I slathered some goopy gel on the brick wait a day and then according to the pictures have an amazing before and after moment.  The problem was none of these options would help my pink mortar.  This meant I would have to pay someone to come and repoint my fireplace with more attractive mortar- namely any other sensible color such as gray or tan. Read between the lines: very expensive for little change.

The other option was to paint the brick and mortar and be done with the darn thing.  Gulp.  This was tough, there was no going back, once painted brick would be painted forever. There is no stripper for brick. I liked our rustic living room and painting brick felt modern and cold to me.  The problem was I didn't really want to spend any more money of this fireplace. I looked online and searched painted brick fireplaces. Honestly they did make a huge difference to rooms. Rooms that felt old and tired looked fresh and bright.

On a Saturday, I decided to do a quick clean to brick to see if it made a difference. I cleaned the brick and cleaned and it looked exactly the same: sooty sad brown.  I made the decision- we were painting. 

The next step was what to paint the brick?  We could go with the same brown as the chimney breast or the standard bone white of all of our trim and ceilings.  Josh and I decided since our new surround was dark brown we should paint the brick Bone White to stand out.   I bought masonry primer and with way more confidence then I felt I started painting the bricks. 

It was pretty quick work, one coat of primer on Saturday night, then two coats of bone white acrinamel the next day. Getting in the cracks and mortar lines took a long time.  Luckily, small detailed oriented projects are my jam. The best part was since it was January and I had my Downton Abbey to replay over and over.  I had to make sure I had memorized every scathing Maggie Smith reproach.

By the end of the weekend the fireplace looked like this:

Regret it- no, Love it- maybe not totally?

1 comment:

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