How to Wash a Brick Fireplace - Kyle's Garage (2023)

How to Wash a Brick Fireplace - Kyle's Garage (1)

Everyone likes classic brick fireplaces. It's challenging and perfect for any home.

But a few years later everything seems different. But not in the right way.

For starters, your rusty red brick fireplace may begin to change color and turn red or even purple. This almost takes away the charm and warmth of your favorite brick fireplace.

Second, you can see the difference between the exposed bricks in the chimney and those covered by the slabs of slate. It looks like you used two different types of stones.

Then you start thinking about whitewashing the brick fireplace. It's a great way to give your fireplace that beautiful plastered faded look you've been longing for.

But why would you consider a whitewashed brick fireplace? Read on to find out more.

Table of contents

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Why Consider a Whitewashed Brick Fireplace?

Using lime to whitewash is a natural method that homeowners have used since time immemorial. It may surprise you that even your grandparents and their predecessors used this method.

So why should you lime? Here are some of the reasons:

it is a natural method

Unlike whitewashing paint, this method is all natural and has little to no environmental impact. It is eco-friendly with no VOCs or other chemicals.

That's because you're doing a lime wash by adding water to the powdered limestone. When it dries, it forms a solid white calcite that can react with carbon dioxide. Simple truth?

is slightly antimicrobial

One of the benefits of using whitewash is its effectiveness in preventing mold. You can use it on the walls of your barn or basement if you have a mold problem there.

It takes a lot

Unlike whitewash with paint, whitewash does not begin to flake or peel after a while.
Instead, you can harden your brick fireplace as it absorbs into porous materials. Even if you don't want to wash it, it won't do it by itself.

However, if you use whitewash on the outside of your home, it can gradually wash away in the rain.
Because of this, some homeowners wash it at least twice a year to make it more durable.

How is lime bleached?

Making a whitewash is easy in a few steps. Here's how to create your mix at home:

The ingredients you will need include:

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  • Five parts (five cups will do) hydrated wall lime or garden-grade hydrated lime
  • One part (one cup) table salt (everyone goes)
  • water (at least three cups)

Instructions to follow:

Mix the ingredients in a bucket and stir slowly. Make sure you get a thin pancake batter that is consistent and free from lumps.

It is best to wear gloves and a mask when preparing the grout. Limescale, while not toxic, is still corrosive and can cause skin or lung irritation.

How to apply lime

After preparing the whitewash, it's time to apply it to the chimney. You will need a spray bottle, gloves, a brush, damp cloths and a brush.

However, if there are areas that you don't want to lighten, you should cover them up. This will protect the areas from spills. But if you miss a spot, you can wash it later with soap and water.

Now we apply the bleach again. You need to fill the spray bottle with clean water and use it to spray the area you want to brighten. You can then dip the brush into the mixture and apply to the surface.

Make sure you slide it into all the nooks and crannies of the chimney. Then let it dry. You can add a second coat (and a third) twenty-four hours after the previous application.

This way you will get a shiny white layer of lime. However, if you want a faded, plastered look, you can use the damp cloths to wipe away some of the whitewash while spraying the surface with water.

The result is quite impressive as it reveals the rusty red brick in the areas you are cleaning. It may take a few days longer than you expect to get the look you want while you recoat and clean other areas.

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Can I add vinegar to my lime recipe?

Before you whitewash or paint your chimney, it's always a good idea to give it a thorough cleaning. That's where the vinegar comes in.

You can use it with water to remove stubborn stains from your chimney for a more impressive look when you have finished your lime washing projects. Of course, you should only use it after thoroughly scrubbing the chimney.

Is lime washing different from bleaching?

Somehow, yes. Whitewashing typically involves the use of paint to achieve the desired plastered appearance and to tone down the brick's natural appearance.

Limewashing, on the other hand, uses a hydrated lime solution for the faded look. Also, you can remove the lime solution after a few days (no more than five days) if you don't like the result of the lime solution. With color it's a whole different story.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of lime washing?

Limewashing is a great technique. But like all other techniques, it has its pros and cons. Here are some of them:


  • it is hypoallergenic
  • Provides a more dimensional appearance than whitewashing with paint.
  • cheap if you do it yourself
  • You can remove it quickly.
  • Preserves the texture of the brick.
  • easy to use
  • Resistant to mold, fungi, insects, moisture and odor, among other things.
  • Just distressing the look
  • it is a natural method
  • not poisonous
  • Environmentally friendly

In contrast

  • Premix can be expensive
  • The color is lighter after drying (even with multiple layers)
  • Corrosive and may cause irritation.
  • Combining colors is a challenge
  • It must be improved after at least five years.
  • You need multiple coats for the best results.

What are alternative ways to whitewash and bleach paint?

When you think your chimney deserves a much better paint project and limewashing just doesn't do it
cut, you should consider alternative options.

Here are some you might want to consider:

German smear technique

The name already shows that this technology is of German origin. Well, you are not wrong if you assume that it came from the castles of Northern Germany. For the most part this technique
(also known as mortar washing) is quite similar to the whitewash technique.

With this technique you apply wet mortar to your brick chimney. This mortar hardens on the surface but is not absorbed by the brick chimney.

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If you are looking for a cheaper way to use this technique it is best to prepare the grout mix yourself, pre-mixed grout can be expensive and will speed up your process.

So what are its pros and cons? let's find out


  • Requires little or no maintenance
  • it is more durable
  • It's profitable
  • Offers a rustic, old-world look.

In contrast

  • Difficult to remove if you don't like the results.
  • The application takes a long time and is intensive
  • You cannot use this technique if you have previously painted the brick

new brick color

Bleaching shares several similarities with this technique. However, they still differ in some important respects. For example, if whitewash doesn't offer the dimensional appearance of whitewash, this technique does.

Brick-Anew paint is a product that you can use on your fireplace painting project to give it a desirable new dimensional look. Plus, it still retains the texture of its brick fireplace.

This technique is for anyone wanting the best of bleaching and liming without any of those unwanted areas. You don't need any special skills to use it as you will be provided with all the necessary step-by-step instructions.

This way, the project becomes simple and relatively easy to complete. Plus, no matter what color scheme you choose (you can choose one out of three), the result is great.

These are some of its advantages:

  • Easy to use without any special knowledge
  • The kit comes with a one-month money-back guarantee.
  • The kit contains the tools and materials for the job.
  • It is excellent for a previously painted fireplace.
  • Keep the texture and natural look of the brick fireplace.
  • You can change the color of the brick.

These are some of its disadvantages:

  • Equipment is expensive
  • You cannot remove the applied paint as it dries too quickly

final thoughts

Whitewashing is a great way to revive the charming, classic look of your old brick fireplace. It gives you a more dimensional look than any other technique while protecting your chimney from damage caused by moisture, insects or mold.

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Plus, you can inexpensively create any shade you want to match the theme, look, and design of your home. Since it is eco-friendly, you don't have to worry about the adverse effects of using it. If you want to bring back the charm of your fireplace, you should try lime washing.


What is the best thing to clean brick fireplace? ›

Mix equal parts vinegar and water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on the bricks and let is sit for a few minutes. Use a sponge mop to clean the bricks. If the bricks are very dirty, use a nylon-bristled scrub brush and put some elbow grease into the scrubbing.

What is the best cleaner for brick? ›

There are three effective types of cleaning solvents for brick, including soapy water (for general brick cleaning), a bleach formula (for mold and mildew), or muriatic acid (for the toughest-to-remove stains).

How do you clean a brick garage wall? ›

The best cleaning method is using a mixture of equal parts dishwashing detergent and table salt. Stir the ingredients together to form a paste-like consistency. Prior to rubbing the paste on the brick surface, dust the wall using a feather duster or vacuum to remove visible dust and cobwebs.

How to clean black off fireplace brick? ›

To do this, create a paste of either baking soda or cream of tartar mixed with a small amount of water. Apply it to the remaining soot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then scrub with a firm toothbrush or small scrub brush and rinse.

How do professionals clean bricks? ›

Exterior Brick Cleaning: How to Clean Brick in 7 Steps
  1. Step 1: Choose the Brick Cleaning Right Solution. ...
  2. Step 2: Protect the Area Surrounding the Brick. ...
  3. Step 3: Test Brick Absorption Rate. ...
  4. Step 4: Saturate with Water. ...
  5. Step 5: Prevent Streaking. ...
  6. Step 6: Apply the Brick Cleaning Solution. ...
  7. Step 7: Rinse Thoroughly.
Aug 22, 2019

What can I use to clean an old brick fireplace? ›

For light stain removal, on any age of bricks, combine half a cup of washing up liquid with four cups of water in a spray bottle and shake. Spray the solution on to the bricks and then use scrubbing brushes in circular motions to remove the grime.

Can I use Dawn to clean brick? ›

Getting Fireplace Bricks Clean With Borax

In a spray bottle combine 2 tablespoons of borax and a squirt of Dawn with 4 cups of hot water. Give it a good shake and coat the bricks. Grab your bristle brush and use a circular motion. Wipe away the grime and rinse.

How do you make bricks look new? ›

You can use a garden hose to wet the bricks or use spray water. For stubborn stains, you can do some of the following mixtures or solutions: Scrub the bricks with table salt and dish soap and put them in a sealant to maintain the condition of the bricks. Try to use a siloxane sealant to try and restore the bricks.

Does white vinegar damage brick? ›

Never use vinegar on any kind of paver, brick, flagstone or concrete; it WILL damage the surface. Same for salt.

How do you make old brick look new again? ›

You can use a garden hose to wet the bricks or use spray water. For stubborn stains, you can do some of the following mixtures or solutions: Scrub the bricks with table salt and dish soap and put them in a sealant to maintain the condition of the bricks. Try to use a siloxane sealant to try and restore the bricks.

Will vinegar damage bricks? ›

Never use vinegar on any kind of paver, brick, flagstone or concrete; it WILL damage the surface. Same for salt.

What is the fastest way to clean a fireplace? ›

Knock off as much ash and debris as possible back into the fireplace. Sweep up ash with a broom and dust pan. Use a hand vacuum, shop vacuum or vacuum hose to thoroughly remove residue. Scrub inside fireplace with a stiff bristled brush and cleaning solution.


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