Since 1976

How to Update An Old Brick Fireplace

A fireplace can be a handsome and dramatic focal point of nearly any living space. It’s one of those cozy home features that’s a very desirable architectural detail for many homebuyers. However, an outdated brick fireplace can sometimes become an eyesore rather than a focal point.

Are brick fireplaces outdated?

Short answer: NO. 

But what if your fireplace is trapped in another decade?

What if it’s a testament to the 1970s and is uninviting, too dark, or dingy?

Well, that’s another story. In that case, you’ll need to update it.

Here’s how to update an old brick fireplace.

Updating Your Outdated Fireplace

Assess the Condition

Before diving into any project, it’s essential to assess the condition of your brick fireplace. Check for loose bricks, crumbling mortar, or any signs of damage.

If necessary, repair these issues to ensure a safe and sturdy foundation for your renovation.

Clean the Surface

Years of soot and dirt can accumulate on the brick surface. Before updating your fireplace, give it a thorough cleaning.

Use a wire brush to remove any loose debris and then wash the bricks with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent.

Rinse the surface and let it dry completely.

6 On-trend Options to Update Your Outdated Fireplace

Now it’s time to give your fireplace a complete makeover.

With an old brick fireplace makeover, you can coordinate your hearth with the rest of your home and blend it with your decor, refresh it to fit current interior design trends, or add a pop of color to give personality to the space.

Here are 6 design ideas that can restore your fireplace to a stunning home feature.

brick stained fireplace

Brick Stain Finish

Brick stains applied to brick fireplaces provide a consistent finish that is permanent (unless you want to stain it again), come in a variety of traditional and modern colors, looks entirely natural, and are maintenance-free. The stains, which are not new to the market and have been around for decades, act like dyes and do not inhibit the performance of masonry – allowing the brick to continue breathing.

Whitewash Finish

Whitewashing brick is a popular trend among homeowners wanting to refresh their hearths.

Whitewashing is the process of covering brickwork with a translucent coat of watered-down white paint. The technique allows the opalescence and natural textures of the brick to show through while also covering the majority of the masonry’s original color. The thickness of the paint can be adjusted to display less of the brick’s natural colors or feature more of it.

german smear fireplace

German Smear Finish

This method is a faux antiquing treatment that gives masonry an Old World charm, reminiscent of older homes in Europe.

In lieu of using paint, mortar is mixed with cement and smeared over the brick to white it out and create texture. But be warned, a German smear is permanent and you will be unable to remove it if you change your mind in a few years.

Lime Wash Finish

Lime washing brickwork may sound like a new concept but it’s actually been around for centuries.

The technique consists of paint made with powdered limestone that has been heated to change its chemical composition. When applied to brick, it penetrates the masonry’s substrate and produces a soft white façade.

But the process has its drawbacks. Limewash erodes over time and can even rub off onto clothing.

Install Tiles or a Faux Veneer

Including crisp-yet-neutral or brightly-colored tiles can give your fireplace a fresh, modern look as well as complement the furnishing in the space.

Consider using contemporary 12×12-inch stone tiles in a neutral palette to modernize your hearth or feature visually-interesting porcelain tiles to add pops of color.

Clad your hearth with faux stacked limestone that looks and feels like real stone for a less expensive update. Manufactured veneer stone is relatively lightweight compared to natural stone and usually does not require additional floor support.

shipslat fireplace

Rustic Brick Makeover

Rustic and reclaimed wood or shipslat installed vertically over brickwork can create a warm and inviting atmosphere while also accentuating tall ceilings.

Adding shiplap is a doable DIY project that adds interest to any fireplace, wall, or room. It is fairly easy to install and can be stained or painted, depending on your decor.

Update the Mantel

The mantel is an essential part of your fireplace’s aesthetic. If your fireplace does not have a mantel, consider adding one. You should think about installing a hand-hewn wood mantle made out of reclaimed wood to tie it all together.


Finally, don’t underestimate the power of accessories. Whether it’s a stylish fireplace screen, an elegant toolset, or decorative items on the mantel, these finishing touches can significantly enhance the fireplace’s appeal.

About BrickImaging

BrickImaging has been among the top brick coloring and staining companies in the nation since its founding in 1976.
Our proprietary brick stains are absorbed by and integrated with the face of masonry. With brick stain, the original surface textures and color variations remain—unlike paint.



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