Friday, 5 August 2016

DIY - How to Whitewash Brick


When Mr. B and I picked out our forever home I was ecstatic that the house we chose had a wood burning fireplace. I just LOVE sitting in front of the fire with a glass of vino on a cold winter night and I'm not going to lie we have definitely taken advantage and made s'mores in the middle of January LOL.

As an added bonus our fireplace was brick, another favourite feature of mine in a home :) Unfortunately our brick was very, well, RED. I've got nothing against red but it was kind of limiting us to our colour scheme for the room and our couches were green... I like Christmas but 365 days a year is a little much.



I tossed around the idea of painting the brick but I was nervous, what if I didn't like it?! It was a big commitment and I didn't want to lose all the texture and colour variances in the brick. I considered going with a two tone paint job like I'd read in this DIY post and finally after 18 months of internal debating I decided to whitewash the fireplace. So here goes nothing!

How to Whitewash Brick

Things You'll Need:
  • White Paint (or lightly tinted - your choice)
  • Water
  • Container (preferably disposable - a milk carton cut in half works great)
  • Paintbrush
  • Rags (or a couple old TShirts)
  • Drop cloth
  • TSP
  • Painters Tape
  • Newspaper
Step One: Clean & Prep
First off I gave my fireplace a once over with the sm all brush on our vacuum cleaner to ensure all
cobwebs and dust were removed from around the brick and in all the grout lines. Next I gave it a wash with some TSP and water (I use about 4 tbsp. dissolved in about 4L of very hot water). I concentrated my scrubbing on the areas around the fireplace opening where soot had stained the brick and sap had crackled and popped all over the hearth. Some of the sap was stubborn and I had to use a piece of steel wool to get it all off. I let the brick dry overnight to ensure all the water it may have absorbed was good and evaporated and then gave it another quick vacuum to remove any bits that had loosened during my scrub down.

Next I used painters tape (my preferred brand is the Painter's Mate Green) to tape off the areas I wasn't painting such as the walls, the floor and the mantel. Whitewash is very runny and messy so to be safe I went with the widest roll I could find at Home Depot which was just under 2" wide. I then covered the top of the mantel with newspaper to protect it from drips and threw a drop cloth over the carpet - don't skip this step, whitewash is MESSY!!!

Step Two: Mix Your Whitewash

For my paint I used some leftover pure white paint I had kicking around from when I repainted my daughters closet. You can use any latex paint you have kicking around in any shade of white, cream or light gray depending on the final look you want to achieve. Make sure you give the can a good stir and then mix up your paint with water - this is where the milk carton or an empty yoghurt container comes in handy. There is no magic formula for a whitewash - the more thinned out the paint the lighter the wash. I mixed my paint with approximately a 2:1 water to paint ratio.

Step Three: Apply Your Whitewash
To apply the whitewash I started at the top of the brick so I could work down and over any drips to prevent streaky lines. I painted and wiped small areas at a time, about 3 bricks across and 2 rows down. I started by painting in the grout lines and then painting the brick and immediately blotting the excess paint with a rag. The brick will start to absorb the paint so don't worry if it looks like you're getting more coverage than you wanted when you first apply the paint. Every 15 minutes or so I stood back to eyeball my progress and make sure there were no paint drips or areas I missed. When I got down near the carpet at the bottom of the hearth I switched over to a small craft brush so I could better control the paint and not have excess running under the tape edges.

Once you've finished your first coat and allowed it to dry (at least 2 hours) you can decide if you've achieved the level of coverage you were going for, I stopped here because I wanted to keep lots of colour variance in my brick. If you want to go lighter you can do a 2nd wash on your brick but I would recommend adding even more water to your paint first.


Once my brick was made over I definitely wasn't loving the oak mantle! And I could see right away
the painting I had mounted above it just wouldn't look right anymore :( I decided I would need to paint the mantle and I knew right away that I wanted to use the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White, it was creamy and soft and a perfect addition to the hard look of the old brick.

I gave the mantle a quick once over with some TSP and water and let it dry. I then painted two coats of Annie Sloan Old White and let it dry. After about 12 hours I sealed the paint with a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax to protect it from my garland craziness come Christmas time ;)

Here is the final look....

Its not easily captured by the camera but in real life there is definitely a noticeable difference between the "pure white" I used to wash the brick and the "old white" I used on the mantel and I needed to find a way to tie them together. I just happened to have a painting hanging in my bedroom that no longer matched since I changed out our bedding and it was a perfect fit with that Old White!


I'm really hoping to come across some beautiful, tall, hand carved wooden candlesticks in my future treasure hunting to finish off the d├ęcor for my mantle and I've yet to decide what I want to do to the adjoining walls until hubby creates the built ins on each side but until then I am definitely happy with the changes we've made to our living room.



Vintage & Varnish
    <3 Kelly

No comments:

Post a Comment