DIY Faux Brick Fireplace

Here it is y’all! My absolute FAVORITE project to date in our home! (Ask me again what my fave project is after I re-do our kitchen on my own for the One Room Challenge in April! haha!)  But for now, this is it!  I also plan to do the faux brick alllllll the way up the chimney to the roof.  Hopefully I can put this on my list to do in the next couple of months!

Full disclosure:  I did this project after watching an Instagram video tutorial from Jessica Jelly over at @the_rusticpallet.  Definitely go check her out because she is the DIY #queen. But I wanted to share my experience here with you guys, including a few tips and tricks I learned along the way that might make things easier for you!

Full disclosure 2: This is NOT a one day gig – it’s not even a weekend gig.  You probably need 3 days minimum because there is a lot of drying time involve between steps.

What you’ll need:

  • 3-5″ putty knife – how big is really your personal preference – I used a 4″ one
  • Joint compound (you WILL use more than you think, and this stuff is dirt cheap – so if you are doing any kind of sizeable project, I suggest just going for the 5 gallon tub)
  • Primer (we used leftover Valspar primer from our Shiplap project)
  • Polycrylic Clear top coat (we used Clear Satin, but if I did it again, I would probably select Clear Matte – it’s really personal preference)
  • Basic Acrylic paints in a variety of browns and greys
  • 3″ paintbrush (for primer and top coat)
  • 1″ flat foam brushes (buy several, they don’t hold up very long!)
  • 3/4″ paint brush for grout lines
  • Rustoleum Chalk Paint in Linen White
  • Old tshirt/flour sack towel (you can wash these if you rinse them really well, but I just threw mine out afterwards)
  • Small bucket to mix white washed paint in
  • Paper plate or small paint easel
  • 3/4″ masking tape (I used masking tape from Target that actually measured 0.70″)
  • Blue Painters Tape
  • Plastic or Brown paper to cover your workspace floors
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Large 5 gallon bucket
  • Ladder or step stool depending on how tall your space is

Step 1:

Measure out your bricks (mine are about 7.75″ by 2.75″) on your wall (or whatever else you are faux bircking).  I used a level to first draw the horizontal lines with a pencil, and then used it to draw the vertical ones.  This is by far the most tedious part of the process, and the least fun.  But hang in there and the end result will be well worth your effort!

TIP: After you draw ONE horizontal line, use your masking tape and tape either directly above or below the line.  Your next horizontal line will be measured from the EDGE fartherst from your pencil mark of that tape (otherwise you have to calculate your brick measurements PLUS the tape width – not as easy)!

TIP: Your bricks absolutely do not have to be exactly the same size – mine most definitely aren’t!  They actually have more variation than I even realized (some are 2.25″ wide, others 2.9″!), but once it’s all completed, you won’t even notice.  Besides, real bricks have tons of variation, so it will only enhance that real brick look!

As you can see, I did a vertical row of bricks directly above the fireplace opening – honestly I kind of just estimated those – I knew I needed them so go a certain distance across, so I taped the ends and then estimated the bricks in between – again, it’s not an exact science!

Also be sure you tape off any outlets or switches you might have on your wall, as well as the edges and floor! I highly suggest putting down plastic tarps or large butcher paper on your floors – this will get messy!

Here is what it looked like fully taped!

TIP:  Leave some “tails,” if you will, of masking tape at the edges (floors, ceilings, etc) so that its easier to find the ends of the tape after all the joint compound is on!

Step 2: Slap on that joint compound! Literally! Use your putty knife to spread the joint compound all over your wall/space.  Experiment with the putty knife in different positions to get the texture you want (smoother, bumpier, etc – personal preference here as well).

The joint compound dries fairly quickly, but you do have some time before you need to peel the tape up, so don’t feel like you have to rush to get everything done super quickly. Just move at a steady pace and you should be fine.  That said, if the space you are working with is large, I would break it up into pieces.  I did the left top and side first, then the front face, then the right top and side.

TIP: If you can, try to buy joint compound that starts out pink and dries white – I couldn’t find it, so I just got the normal white to white one.  But, it definitely does start out kind of a grey white, and it dries to a bright pure white.  So you should still know when it’s dry! DON’T start priming until your joint compound is completely dry!

TIP: Because I know how hard it is to wait out that drying time, I suggest trying to get your joint compound up at night before you sleep – this way, it can dry overnight and the waiting time is less painful! You may still have to wait a couple hours the next morning before getting started, but it goes by much quicker!

Step 3: Peel off your tape! This part is MESSY.  I peeled off the tape small sections at a time and placed it into a large 5 gallon bucket to try to keep the mess as contained as possible.  This is where your tarps and/or butcher paper really come in handy!  Giant globs of joint compound will inevitable fly places and you will find them later and think “hmm.. how did that get there?!”

While this step is messy, it is also one of the most REWARDING! You will finally feel like you’re making progress!

TIP: If you section off your space as I described above, just tear the tape off where the joint compound ends and the section your haven’t started yet begins.

TIP: The edges of your brick will pull up a bit more because of the tape – you can either leave these harsher edges, or smooth them out with your fingers while it is still wet and pliable – I left some, and smoothed out others that were really obvious.

Step 4: Let dry! Seriously. This is it’s own step. Don’t skip it.

Step 5: Now time to prime! I only did one coat on ours, but you might need to do two if you have darker walls behind your faux brick. (Only doing one coat also means it dries very quickly – about an hour or so – and you can get on with your painting!)

TIP:  Before you prime you probably will have to retape (I used Blue Painter’s Tape this time) off your edges and the floor space – it’s nearly impossible to keep your edge tape in tact when you are peeling up all the other masking tape and joint compound.

Step 6: Now is the fun part! Paint! Everyone has different techniques here, so don’t feel like you have to follow mine.  I used straight paint (not watered down), and I used a 1″ foam brush to dry brush paint on in horizontal strokes (or vertical on my vertical bricks).

I used 3 colors (pictured in order below):

  • A dark browny black
  • A dark grey
  • And a combination of the two

You can see the changes as I painted – I also only had 2 foam brushes which were completely destroyed after one color each, so I had to resort to a regular paint brush for color 3! Oops!

As you can see, I retaped my edges and floor off with Blue Painter’s Tape, as I mentioned above!
Here is a close up of my fully painted bricks. Not really “real brick” looking, but I knew I wanted greys and browns, not reds and tans. You can really paint however you want and with whatever colors you want! (My mom did this project as well and watered down her colors to start – so feel free to be creative here!) And the best part? If you hate it, its just paint! You can always paint over it!

TIP: You can see in the above photo how crisp my grout lines look. That’s because I painted them with Rustoleum Linen White Chalk Paint BEFORE I white washed.  I do NOT suggest doing this and I will never doing it again.  Inevitable there will be some transfer of your color paint to the grout lines during the white wash process.  So I just ended up having to redo them all at the end.

Step 7: White wash!  I watered down the Rustoleum Linen White Chalk paint about 1:1 paint to water ratio in a small bucket.  I then used an old t-shirt to literally just scrub it on.  Try to avoid drips!

I did two rounds of white washing, the second being about 1:2 paint to water (so more watery than the first round).  After this, and after everything was dry of course, I used strait chalk paint to add some pure white in a few places because I wanted a bit more obvious white – but again, you can totally skip this!

Then I did one last quick white wash over that, with a solution even MORE watery than the second round.

And this is a close up of the final product – with my glass of wine because let me tell you I DESERVED that vino after I was done!

Step 8:  Let dry for awhile, and THEN paint your grout lines with your Linen White chalk paint.  It doesn’t need to be super clean, especially if you white washed – you won’t notice a bit of white here and there that might get on the edges of your bricks.  Here I used a brush that was 3/4″ – the width of my grout lines – this made it super easy and quick!

Step 9: Let dry – again, I suggest overnight to really allow for a full dry here!

Step 10:  Use Polycrylic (finish of your choice) and a 3″ paint brush to paint on your top coat.  You also need to be very aware of drips with this, because it is VERY liquidy!  The container suggests 3 coats as ideal, but I only did 2 and I feel like ours has held up wonderfully – you can always touch up as needed in the future if your brick gets a few scuffs or scrapes!

—– DRUM ROLL, PLEASE —–

And here is the final product (with various mantel stages – go check out my post on waxing a reclaimed wood mantel if you are curious to see how I did it)!!!

You didn’t think I was going to end this post without a couple shots of my sweet Napa did you?!

So what do you think friends, is this something you would try? I am thrilled with how it turned out, despite the time consuming nature of this project.  I can’t wait to finish the entire chimney – what a statement that will make!  I’ll be sure to update y’all once I get the done!

XO,

Ana