How to Whitewash
Alright, this project has been on my dream wish list of house projects since before we even moved in. I figured we could tackle this in a day, and it didn’t even take that long. Honestly, it was so easy. This took me two hours, tops.
- White paint
- Paint brush
- Painter’s tape
- Shop rags
The biggest obstacle you’ll face is deciding whether or not you want to commit to changing your fireplace face. From what I’ve read, whitewashing can be reversed, but not too easily. Limewashing, on the other hand is not reversible. So choose wisely, my friends!
I assumed I’d do more research, but it seemed pretty straightforward so we jumped right in. Just be prepared to keep this look for at least awhile before you dive in too.
First step is to wipe down the brick for any cobwebs or debris. I actually took a vacuum hose over all the grooves.
Next, tape around your bricks with painter’s tape. It helped a ton that I taped the floor.
I taped off the box and around the mantle, as well as the walls.
Then put down an old towel to kneel on and catch drippings.
Mixing the Paint
Ok, so what’s the perfect ratio? We experimented with this a little bit, but 50% water and 50% paint seemed to be just right. You can always add more paint or water to your liking, but it’s always better to start with too much water so you get a lighter coat.
We found a half gallon of ceiling paint that worked perfectly. I chose it because it said “bright white”. (And it was sitting in storage). I think any water-based paint will do fine. Do not buy new paint if you don’t need to. We used way less paint than I thought. Maybe a pint (16 ounces).
Mix ‘er up and get ready to add your water.
We used an old trashcan lined with a plastic bag. All you’re doing is diluting the paint. So whatever the size of your brick surface, start out with a set amount of paint and add the water, keeping the ration 1:1.
Here’s Joe’s first swing at painting.
We started on the bottom bricks to test our mixture.
So… that was our first try. Don’t worry, it actually dries a little lighter. We finished the whole bottom with that mix, but I added a little more water for the rest. That’s why I say start with more water and add paint if you need.
Learn from our mistakes 🙂 Actually, we’re really happy with how it turned out, so we don’t consider it a mistake. Just a learning experience.
One word of warning: It dries really quickly and drips. It was a good idea to start with the top bricks and work my way down. That way you’re not dripping all over your finished work.
Here’s a zoomed out look at how it’s coming along. You can still clearly see the different colored bricks and textures peeking through.
I would also recommend getting into the cracks first. That seemed like the hardest part to get saturated.
Maybe the gradient fireplace will be a new trend some day 😉
You can always wipe off spots you think have too much paint with a damp rag. Some people sponge the whole thing, but I think the subtle brush strokes leave a nice texture.
Caution: It might look so bright and clean that everything else will look dingy by comparison. It really makes me want to paint the whole room white.
Some people like to straight up paint their fireplace white as opposed to whitewashing, but this feels like the perfect balance for the basement. Remember, you can always choose to paint over the whole thing if you don’t like it.
Here’s a sample of my technique.
And here’s what it looks like after! Ta dah.
Here’s with the lights dimmed and the fire on.
We think it makes a huge difference. We are lucky that we have two fireplaces, so we can keep one the natural stone, and can experiment with this one. It makes a big impact, and you could tackle this project in one hour if you’re fast! Now to brighten up the rest of the basement.