Fireplace Tile is Painted!

By August 3, 2011Uncategorized

This is one of those projects that when you’re done you smack yourself in the forehead and ask, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Yes, the fireplace tile is now painted in a leaps and bounds improvement over where it’s been the last 3 years or so. Why the wait? I think the main reason is that my confidence as a painter and DIYer is increasing. Thoughts or project ideas that used to be scary (“Can you even paint tile?”) now seem like no big deal. I’m not an expert by any means, I don’t even own any power tools, but I’m getting there. I have so much to still learn, which is very exciting.

When I posted about the fireplace two weeks ago, I included this picture. The official “before” picture.


Emily Snuffer

Warning: Long, wordy tutorial section coming up…. (skip for more fun pictures)

To paint the tile (and to ensure it wouldn’t chip due to foot traffic), here’s what I did:

  1. Removed the summer door (a.k.a. the cast iron plate covered in roses, pictured above, that covers the actual firebox)
  2. Removed the wood trim around the floor mantle (I pried them off with flat head screwdriver)
  3. Cleaned tile with damp towel and wiped clean
  4. Used tack cloth to remove any remaining dirt or dust I might have missed
  5. Lined the cast iron surround with Frog Tape (I’m not normally a taper but because I would be smashing my brush into the grooves and grout around the surround, I added the tape for extra protection)
  6. Used a 4″ foam roller (meant for cabinets but best for getting super-smooth surfaces) to add an oil-based primer to the surface
  7. Let primer dry for 1 hour (or until dry to the touch)
  8. Once the primer was dry, I used my tack cloth again to grab any dust or dirt
  9. It’s painting time!
  10. Using a new 4″ foam roller, added two coats of Behr’s Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss (which I also used on my laundry room cabinets) with 30 minutes of dry time in between
  11. Once I was happy with the coverage, I let everything dry for 24 hours
  12. Using a cheap-y $2 bristle paint brush (I was throwing it away when I was done), added a coat of polyurethane. (I used Minwax Fast Drying Protective Finish in Clear Gloss) EDIT: Please be sure to use WATER-BASED polyurethane to avoid a nasty yellow finish on your pretty white painted tile.)
  13. Let everything dry for another 24 hours (ugh)
  14. Added back my wood trim around the floor mantle
Here’s a look at the process in photos. The Frog Tape in action. It worked great, by the way.
Emily Snuffer
I’m such a messy painter. I have stuff everywhere. Here’s a look at the crime scene after the primer went on:
Emily Snuffer
Can you guess what I’m watching on TV? It’s an old Disney film. OK, it’s Beauty & The Beast. Lumière, you slay me.


And, because some people have asked how the heck I do all of these projects in a small house full of crazy dogs, the answer is, barricades. Lots of barricades. In this case, I used the hope chest, a baby gate and the yellow chairs. It worked, thank goodness.
Emily Snuffer
And finally, the finished product.
Emily Snuffer
I love seeing the shine and the reflection on the floor mantle. That’s a result of semi-gloss paint and a nice thick coat of polyurethane. Now all I need to do is jazz it up. And remove that really annoying cable I forgot to move out of the picture.


I like the idea of leaving the summer door off. It’s hard to tell in the photos but there’s an awesome, decorative cast iron wood rack in the firebox. I like the depth and interest the open firebox adds to the room. (A funny side note – This also marked the first time I removed the summer door. I was dreading what I’d find knowing it had been closed up for who knows how long but nothing dramatic.)


How would you style it up? I made a quick attempt, but the lighting was so bad the other day I didn’t include it in the post.


p/s: On an unrelated note, did you guys like my manicure post? I did another fun one the other day and am thinking about posting it.


p/p/s: Thanks to Dad for researching the summer door, which I had previously been calling “metal thingy.”

Join the discussion 23 Comments

  • Jessica Kahan says:

    ok I am inspired, but ours is marble, not tile (think charcol with burgundy vein ewwww) think it would still work?

    • emily says:

      Yes, it will work! Marble is very glossy and slick so you’ll need to sand it first to get the paint to stick. Then follow the rest of the steps.

  • AarthiD says:

    Wow, that fireplace looks amazing! The paint really just brightened up the whole thing. And I definitely understand what you mean about DIY being a learning process; each project is a stepping stone along the way to even BIGGER projects, haha!

    The best part, though, is how many resources are around on the interwebs for DIY projects and stuff; you can find tutorials and how-tos and Q&A sites for every possible project. It’s amazing. Where do you go when you need help or advice?

  • […] I screwed up pretty big this time. Remember when I posted this picture of the freshly painted fireplace tile? […]

  • allison says:

    This is exactly what I wanted to see…I’m thinking of doing white on some UGLY tile around my fireplace. Why did you choose semi gloss instead of high gloss for the tile? You used semi gloss on everything, right? Thanks! Al

    • emily @ go haus go says:

      Yes, semi-gloss for everything! It works like a charm! My only advice is to seal with polyACRYLIC not polyurethane. The polyurethane will turn your white paint yellow! I learned that the hard way! Send me pics when you’re done – I would love that!

  • […] now. They replaced that pretty tile on the surround with floor tiles (grumpy face), so I painted over them awhile […]

  • Angel says:

    Do you have to apply the coat of polyurethane?

    • emily @ go haus go says:

      Yes, but not poly! Use polyacrylic finish. Polyurethane on top of white will turn it yellow! I learned that one the hard way.

  • […] not digging the look of painted tile for a backsplash. We have painted tile elsewhere in our home (like our fireplace surround) but it doesn’t feel right for the backsplash in our space. We’re worried about the […]

  • Michelle Hauprich says:

    Looks great! I used the instructions your page to paint my fireplace and now I am waiting for the bear paint to dry. Question, did you use very fine sandpaper before applying the polyacrlyic protective finish?

    • So glad to hear! No, I did not use a sandpaper. As long as you are happy with the smoothness of the surface, I say go for it! If you want it a little smoother, a very fine grit sandpaper will work just fine. Yay… I love when people use my tutorials. :)

  • Jacqueline says:

    I came across your blog and am very excited about painting my fireplace tile! It’s that nasty large peach tile that seems to be in most households these days. We use our fireplace a couple times a week in the winter so will the semigloss paint hold up with the heat from a wood burning fireplace? Will I also be able to use the paint for the tiles on the floor in front as well?

    • Lauren Izenberg says:

      I have the same question as Jacqueline, regarding how paint will hold up with a wood burning fireplace. and also if the paint can be used on the floor in front of the fireplace? I am dreaming about changing out the tile in our fireplace, and painting it sounds like such a cost effective alternative. Great article, thank you!

  • Anika says:

    Hello!! I don’t know if I should go with an oil based primer or a water based primer ?
    what do you suggest??
    I am afraid of the oil and the warmth of the fireplace when it’s on.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Hi I made a comment up two steps. I really want to paint the fireplace this summer. Could you please help me pick the right paint? We us our fireplace a few times during the winter so I need to know what paint real works and if the polyacrylic will also. Thanks!

    • I’m so sorry I didn’t reply before! If you plan on using the fireplace I would recommend a high heat paint meant for painting fire boxes or even cars. Should be able to find it online or at a home improvement store. Definitely would not use a polyacrylic. The high heat paint alone should be just fine

      • Anika says:

        I’m a little confused: I’m painting just the outer tile of a gas fireplace. Not the inside. Is regular paint and water based primer ok?

        I think your comment about the high heat paint if for inside of the firebox. Right?!

        Sorry!!! And thanks so much!!

        • I knew what you meant! I’m just not sure if regular paint would hold up on the outer tile when the fireplace is in use. It would most likely bubble. I would reco using the high heat on the outer tile for that reason! Your color options might be limited but you can’t go wrong with black or white

          • Anika says:

            EMILY! awesome! THANKS! ill keep looking for the paint then :) I assume that you don’t use your fireplace then, right??

            We never use it, but if we rent the house in the future, I would not be able to tell the renter “not to use” it. (its gas BTW).


          • Absolutely! I hope it was helpful. And no, we don’t use our fireplace. It’s a shallow coal fireplace but I so wish it was operable!

  • Micki Maslow says:

    I would get some white birch logs and put them in the wood holder. Looks nice in ours!

Leave a Reply