Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fireplace Makeover: Painting Tiles

Gotta love the 90's hunter green!

The look might appeal to some, which is perfectly fine, but it doesn't fit my particular style. Had the tiles been black, charcoal, chocolate, etc. I probably would've left them alone, but I just couldn't handle that green. After looking for replacement tiles and what it would entail to change them out (quite a bit of work), we decided to give paint a try.

My house is loaded with good quality oak, which I can't complain about; however, there was just way too much of it, so I broke up the oak in some places, the mantel being one of them.

Speaking of oak, check out some tips for working with oak without painting it all white, here.

Now, let's get started on the makeover!


1) To start, the Mr. sanded the mantel lightly with a fine grit sanding bar to take the shine off. After sanding, I washed the mantel with a teeny bit of dish soap and warm water, then allowed it to dry completely. Make sure no residual dust is on the surfaces.

2) I primed the mantel with one coat of shellac based Zinsser primer ultimate stain blocker; quart size was enough. It's very important that you use a primer with stain blocking, otherwise the yellow in the oak will seep through into the white paint.

A tip for cleaning brushes after using this primer: Murphy's Oil Soap and warm water. It takes a good scrubbing and working in with your fingers, as well as several washes, but it works!

3) Once the primer is completely dried, I began painting the mantel using a good quality brush. I personally like Purdy brushes. I used a quart size of Behr premium plus interior satin enamel paint, but had it tinted in the Benjamin Moore color, White Dove. 

Between coats, I sanded and cleaned so the finish wasn't rough to touch, or appear rough to the eyes.

Fireplace mantel was near completion here, but had company from out of town, so I redecorated it for a couple days before continuing my work.
I apologize for some of the poor quality pics. I did this project long before I ever thought I'd have a blog; a mistake I've learned from!


The tiles surrounding our fireplace do not get hot at all with a fire burning, so I didn't use heat resistant primer, paint, or top coat on them. We did, however, use heat resistant paint on the metal surrounding the opening because that does get hot, which is noted below in step 5.

1) I sanded the tiles with a sanding bar to take off some of the shine. I didn't spend a ton of time doing this, though. Then I wiped the tiles down to make sure the surface was clean to accept the primer.

2) Using the same primer I used on the mantel, I began priming the grout first, then the face of the tiles.

3) Once the tiles were all primed, I began painting the tiles with a quart size of Behr premium plus interior/exterior hi-gloss enamel, in the color Cornerstone. Like the mantel, I sanded lightly and wiped clean between coats for smoothness.

4) Once painted, the tiles were a shade of cream that reminded me of banana pudding next to the white mantel. It was missing depth and character. So I grabbed some darker paint I had leftover from another room in my house. I believe it was actually the color on the wall the fireplace is on (Butternut Wood by Behr). If you don't have leftover paint in a darker shade like that, you could always have a sample size tinted in the color of your choice. You will only need a small portion of even a sample size. 

I took a VERY small amount of the dark and mixed it with some of the Cornerstone paint in a disposable bowl to create just a slightly different color. I then dipped a crinkled up wad of paper towel into the mixture and lightly blotted it on. Make sure you don't have too much paint on the paper towel; it should be a very small amount. You can blot the towel on cardboard before taking it to the tiles to be safe. If the paper towel begins to break down or becomes too saturated, get a new one to use. 

You should end up with a look like this:

5) During this time, the Mr. removed the metal from around the opening (the brass) and spray painted it with Rust-Oleum High Heat black spray paint. If you don't want to have to remove the metal, you could paint it where it sits using the brush-on version of this paint. 

6) Once the tiles were completely dried, I applied a top coat of  Minwax Polycrylic clear satin. I prefer the satin look so it appears more like ceramic tile than glazed tiles. If you would like it to be high gloss, Polycrylic come in clear gloss as well.

All Finished! What a difference! The new look really brightened up the room!

I absolutely adore makeovers like this; dramatic change, little cost and effort!

Until next time...create away!