We looking into new stone to cover the fireplace, but as it is a big fireplace (over 8ft tall and about 6ft around) it quickly added up to an expensive idea. Being the house poor new homeowners that we are, we realised a quick bit of lipstick was the best we could do in the interim. I had been dreaming of a charcoal coloured fireplace for that space, but was worried that it would be too dominant and heavy in the space, so I then second guessed myself (naughty Sarah) and moved onto the plan of safe and predictable white. But having seen a lot of painted fireplaces in the neighbourhood (I somehow think we were not the only ones who had fugly brick!)- I was not sold on how flat and lifeless painted brick looks, especially as we have so much brick to contend with, so I continued searching. After some web searching, I came across the option of masonry stain, and figured that if it didn't work out as planned, then the paint solution was always in our back pocket and we were, worst case, out $30 for a can of stain.
Because the stain is semi-transparent, and we had pink brick and soot stains to hide, we decided to try out my initial charcoal idea. So, after a trip to our local Rona, we gathered our supplies and our courage, and started to paint on the stain -the whole time cringing on the inside because we had passed the point of no return.
The process when pretty quickly, especially because our pink brick already had black grout (pointing?) - yeah it was a special design I'm tellin' ya!
our fireplace-pre stain
We just painted it on with small paint brushes the width of our bricks, being sure to cover the exposed sides of the bricks. After about an hour and a half, we have the fireplace covered from head to toe in charcoal stain and....
partway through the staining process
We then let it dry over night and the next day with fresh eyes we critiqued our work and our colour choice, and we loved it. The semi-transparent nature of the stain lets the variation in colour of the original bricks show through- the "grains" of the brick as well as the difference between the body and ends of the bricks, as well as a hint of the original pinky-ness.
With the first layer done, we decided to risk a second coat to touch up any missed bits and to further reduce the pinky-ness and hide more of the sooty bit.
Two coats of masonry stain was, for us just, the right amount. The finish is a bit shiny-er than our original brick was, but I'm pretty sure the average viewer wouldn't know the fugly-ness lurking beneath our lovely modern - but vintage appropriate fireplace. Just in time to show it off for the holidays.
Edited to add: Looking for more info on this? Then go here for a 10 month update with additional pictures!!