How to Paint a Brick Chimney For an Upgraded Exterior

Modern brick chimneys can be a real thing, we promise

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated June 22, 2022
red brick chimney/ roof
Photo: dbrus / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Simple

Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to complete

120 hours

Including drying time

Cost

$155–$350

If you already own the tools, this DIY is a no-brainer.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.

What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Ladder
  • Power washer OR bucket and scrub brush
  • 80- to 100-grit sandpaper
  • Mortar
  • Drywall knife
  • Small touch-up brush
  • Paint sprayer OR roller/brush
  • Paint tray

SUPPLIES

  • Drop cloth
  • Mild soap
  • Primer
  • Painter’s tape
  • Caulk
  • Paint

If you can’t bear to look at your 1970’s exposed brick chimney for one more day, it’s time for a refresh. A crisp white-washed finish sounds pleasing. So does a bold matte black. Whatever your style preferences, upgrading your brick chimney exterior requires a plan. Here’s how to paint your brick chimney to last.

Is This a DIY Project?

woman on roof painting chimney
Photo: vandervelden/ iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

While the idea of painting a chimney seems pretty straightforward, there are a few things to consider before either moving forth on your own or hiring a professional to climb that ladder.

Consider Your Climate

Even if you decide to DIY the actual painting of your chimney, consider consulting an exterior painter to help you determine whether your chimney is even a good candidate for painting. Paint tends to trap moisture, which can potentially compromise its structural integrity, especially in climates where the temperature fluctuates significantly during each freeze/thaw cycle. If a professional gives you the green light, you’re good to go.

The Cost of Hiring a Pro

The cost to hire a professional to paint a chimney averages between $2 and $6 per square foot or between $400 and $1,200 for the entire project. The final number will depend on where you live and how complex the work is. If your chimney needs a lot of scraping and patching, it will likely cost more.

  1. Scrub It Clean

    Thoroughly clean your chimney first. A pressure washer is ideal for removing dirt, as well as any flaking or loose mortar. If a pressure washer isn’t an option, a sturdy brush and a bucket of water with mild soap or dish detergent will do the trick. Just be sure to hit all the cracks and crevices before moving on to the next step.

  2. Sand It and Patch It

    If your chimney was painted previously, use 80- to 100-grit sandpaper to scrub off as much peeling and flaking paint as possible. Then, inspect your chimney for missing or damaged mortar. If you find areas that need some attention, patch them using a mortar and drywall knife. Allow your patchwork to dry and set for 24 to 36 hours.

  3. Caulk the Gaps

    Next, fill in any large holes or gaps in the brick with caulk to ensure a smooth surface and prevent water from ruining your paint. Sealing anything larger than 1/16th of an inch is a good rule of thumb to follow. Let the caulk dry completely before moving on, usually about 30 minutes for silicone and acrylic caulk.

  4. Protect Your Roof

    Before you begin painting, cover the roof at the base of your chimney and the ground around your chimney and ladder with drop cloths. Use the painter’s tape if necessary to secure the cloth to the roof. It will catch any stray paint that may drop or blow in the wind.

  5. Prime the Brick

    Use a paint sprayer or roller to apply a latex, acrylic, or universal primer to the brick for a smoother and longer-lasting finish. A high-temperature primer is best if your chimney is frequently exposed to high temperatures.

    Remember, brick is porous, so the best way to apply primer and paint is with a sprayer.   A brush or roller is your most handy tool for touch-ups to ensure the paint adheres to every hole, crack, and crevice.

  6. Paint!

    Grab your sprayer to apply an even coating of paint. Then, come back in with a small brush to fill in any hard-to-reach areas or weird angles that a sprayer or roller can’t touch. 

    One coat should suffice, but you may need a second coat if you’ve chosen a lighter color or your brick is especially dark. Make sure to let the coats dry between applications.

Choosing the Right Paint For Your Chimney

The type of paint you should choose depends on how often you use your chimney and its exterior. If you use your fireplace occasionally, latex-based paint will work. However, if you expose your brick to high temperatures, like in the case of a furnace or wood-burning stove, you’ll need a high-temperature paint that won’t peel and bubble. 

Also, the type of paint you need will depend on the exterior type of your chimney. If it is just a stainless steel flue, a high quality, high heat paint—which can be brushed or sprayed on—would likely work best. If it is a brick or stucco surface, your best option would be to prime it with a masonry primer/sealer and then finish it with acrylic paint.

Important Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

While painting a brick chimney is a completely doable DIY, there are a few safety tips you’ll want to remember. If this project feels slightly intimidating, call a local exterior painter who knows how to paint brick and will use the proper equipment to do the job safely.

  • Before climbing the roof, make sure you have the right equipment and are physically able to do

  • When using a ladder, always remember to position it on stable ground

  • Consider enlisting a helper to spot you from the ground (just in case)

  • If you’ve chosen to buy or rent a sprayer for your paint job, remember that wind will carry the paint, and it can land on neighbors’ houses, and cars

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.