Instead of cleaning or painting brick — stain your brick fireplace with concrete stain

Fireplace before staining

Fireplace after staining

When we recently talked about how to mask the pinkish pavers that comprise Jane’s driveway, Sarah commented on the potential to stain them, and pointed out that she had recently used masonry stain to recolor the pinkish bricks of her fireplace. She said:

I’ve used exterior masonry stain in our house to cover our pink/purple brick fireplace (I’m with you on the pink bricks!). I blogged about it here. We are super happy with it and have gotten tons of compliments on it. I think a dark grey/charcoal would be a great look with your house’s grey siding and should cover the pink well. You can get it in about 20 different colours and it’s only about $30/can at Home Depot/Rona…

I checked with the pros over at Rust-Oleum, makers of a Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain about using this solution (literally!) on fireplace bricks, and they said, yup, this use of their concrete stain is AOK:

Good morning Pam,

I have an answer to your question about using Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain on fireplace bricks. Our brand manager for Concrete Stain said the stain can be used on fireplace bricks. She suggests for the best results, apply it with a trigger spray, dry brush, sponge or stippling. Also consider applying a second accent color to provide additional visual interest. These simple techniques are covered near the end of the instructional video you posted on Retro Renovation. However, if any of your readers have fireplaces with dark-colored brick, they may not be able to achieve a noticeable difference by staining.

Hope we’ve answered your questions. – Susan

Note, Sarah says the masonry stain that she used has a bit of gloss to it. This may not be desirable to some folks. Perhaps there is a matte finish concrete stain? I will ask Rust-Oleum what they know.

Update: I heard back from Rust-Oleum in less than 24 hours. Here is what they said about the finish of their product — note, I am not sure which brand concrete stain Sarah and her husband used, there are several companies that make this. Regarding sheen, Rust-O said:

 

Hi Pam,
Here’s the answer to your question about the sheen of Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain from our brand management team:

Depending on the porosity of the surface and how much stain is applied, the sheen could range from matte to semi-gloss. A matte finish is the usual and expected result when it’s applied correctly over porous concrete. We would expect that with a light touch and light application, the sheen would be matte when applied to fireplace brick as well. However, if multiple layers or thick coats are applied, there is an increased chance of developing some gloss since the stain can no longer soak into the brick, but rather layer on top of it.

Please let us know if you or your readers have additional questions. Love the look of the stained brick fireplace in your post. Dramatic difference.

Yes: Dramatic difference — for $30 and some sweat equity. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Rust-Oleum.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. says

    I think I’m going to try this on our exterior bricks. We have just a tiny bit of blonde brick accent on the front of our house, but we’re re-siding it in gray and white. The stain seems like a better option than just slapping paint on them. Thanks for the tip!

  2. chris says

    This looks really nice! Don’t you love it when you can get a whole new look for under $50.00!?

    Very fun!

  3. says

    Thanks for the DIY love guys 🙂

    The “After” pic shown above is actually with 1 coat of the stain on the fireplace. We added a second layer, which further minimized the “patina” as Jane called it and darkened it up a bit more to a more charcoal hue. We used less that 1/3 of the can (gallon?) so a little goes a long way. There’s a real after pic on my blog: http://craftywaffles.blogspot.ca if you want to see how 2 layers looks.

  4. Just another Pam says

    Dear Retro Fairy Godmother,

    Did they happen to mention if this can be used outside where there’s the potential to have 100 degrees variance in temperature over a year? Or would it be a good idea for me to do my own damn research and maybe, call me crazy, watch the video?

    • pam kueber says

      Fairy godchild, why don’t you email Rust-O to see what they say. For sure they said it was okay for Canada…

      • says

        Hello Pams,
        No need to do the research yourself or even email us. Temperature variations shouldn’t be a problem. However, the stain color may fade a little when weather conditions are extreme. If it fades, you can easily refresh the color by applying another coat of stain.
        Speaking of application: Weather does matter when applying the stain. Don’t apply the stain outdoors if rain is expected within 48 hours and apply it only when air, material and surface temperatures are between 50-90 degress F (10-32 degrees C for our Candian friends). Also the relatively humidity should not be greater than 85% when applying the stain. Hope we’ve answered your question.

        • Just another Pam says

          Thank you very much, Pam and Susan,

          It never dawned on me to email the company so thank you both for the advice!

          The negotiations will begin tomorrow with a gentle introduction to the possibilities. Can’t just throw it out there or he’ll spook so I’ll start with pictures.

          Thanks again!

  5. Martine Alter says

    I have pinky-beige slump block on the exterior of my 1960 ranch style house. Would staining the block destroy the retro-ness of the design or is pink block just plain ugly and needs to go? What do you do with it? Help.

    • says

      The product we use comes in about 30 colours, we chose to go with the darkest, but you could use a lighter colour with 1 layer to change the tone of the bricks a bit to better suit your aesthetic without totally loosing the look. Because it’s a stain not a paint the retro shows through, after 2 coats our fireplace still holds a hint of it’s pink/purple heritage.

  6. HeidiH says

    Hi, Could you use a lighter shade of stain on a light colored brick to make it look brighter? Or are all stain colors dark?

    What about algae growth or soot stains on exterior bricks, can you cover the stains on a light colored brick with a light color stain that is close to the brick color after washing the most of the stain off first?

    Does the stain affect how the brick breathes?

    —Heidi

    • says

      Hi Heidi,

      Stains come in a variety of colors from light to dark. As long as the stain is a solid color, the lighter colors will make the space look brighter. We recommend testing an inconspicuous area first, to see if it’s what you’re expecting before staining the entire surface.

      Surface preparation is the most important step towards achieving excellent results. Especially since the stain is a sealer, so whatever is on the surface when you apply the stain, will be there when the stain dries. Algae stains should be cleaned with an appropriate cleaner such as JOMAX House Wash. Remember that Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stains will allow some of the underlying surface to show through so if you need to hide a stain, you may want to use a solid color concrete stain.

      Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stains expand and contract with the surface, so yes it will allow the brick to breath.

  7. Gina says

    Can you use this stain on exterior slump block? We are looking at a house and I hate the white/grey color and would like to give it more curb appeal.

    • says

      Gina,

      The Rustoleum Semi-transparent Concrete Stain can be used on slump block. Keep in mind that the block cannot be sealed or previously coated. The product should be applied in light coats to eliminate runs on the vertical surface. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  8. becky says

    We are looking to redo our old fireplace which is made completely of blonde fire brick. Do you know if we can stain this type of fireplace and still be able to use it safely? Thanks for any help you can give us.

  9. s says

    I have painted my red fireplace bricks an off-white/cream color. I was going to do the same with my concrete slab hearth. However, I think I would like to stain it now. Do you think it probably has some sort of seal on it that would interfere with staining it? (I need it to be as labor-less as possible, since I am disabled–but doing the work myself).

    Would Rust-Oleum stain products work?

    Thank you so much.
    s

  10. Carrie says

    I have this horrid brown brick in little sections on my newly purchased 1980s tri-level home…we are residing the house (which is an equally as ugly brown wood siding! lol) a tan/light beige color and want to do something with the brick. Deffinately dont want to paint for the fear of it looking painted…think it is possible to stain the ugly brown to more of a true brick red color?

  11. Brenda says

    Hello all,

    The fireplace in my new home has bright red bricks with almost white mortar. The bricks are not smooth but quite textured.

    Would the stain work on them?

    This gives me great hope as the living room fireplace chimney is also seen in the kitchen and in the upstairs hallway as well. I was completely flummoxed on how to decorate with so much brick but this article gives me hope.

    Thanks – Brenda

  12. Roxanne says

    I used spray paint to paint my burglar bars that is on my window, but some of the spray paint got on my exterior brick and the spray paint that I use is black, but will a concrete stain cover the spray paint or should I buy something else to remove the spray paint

  13. Lisa says

    This thread is exactly what I’ve been looking for! We have lots of pink brick on the exterior of our home. It’s in Minnesota. Would prefer something brown. Would this product work for this purpose? What would best hide the pink? Rustoleum?

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