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How to paint a fireplace surround by Aileen Hogan of Shabby.ie

How to paint a fireplace surround
by Aileen Hogan of Shabby.ie 

Episode 3 of
‘HOW TO’ video series from Fleetwood Paints

You will love this one!  What an amazing update this turned out to be and the client’s were so happy. You see this was the client’s grandmothers house and the family had just moved in and were starting to redo the whole house. The fireplace surround, as sturdy as it was, just didn’t fit in with the modern scheme the client wanted and rather that replace it, they answered my advert looking for a surround to be painted . The reason I did a shout out was because I wanted to do a video on this particular project. We get so many  emails asking, is it possible to update a wooden fireplace surround, so it suited our new series of home decor video tutorials!

People seemed to be a lot more hesitant to attempt this project and I think its because a fireplace surround is a permanent fixture in your room, unlike furniture that you can always throw out if it goes horribly wrong, am I right ???

You will see from the video that not only did this paint improve the fireplace itself, but when I took the final photo, I couldn’t believe the beautiful colour that was on the walls. A colour I hadn’t even noticed a few hours before. So the lesson I  learned from this project was … changing just one thing in your room, can totally enhance the whole room! Have a look at the BEFORE photo. This was what it looked like at 10.30am when i entered the house.

So for this job I needed the following products:

  • Dust Sheet
  • Washi Tape
  • Flock roller and mini roller tray
  • Small craft brush
  • Sandpaper and sanding pad for edges and grooves
  • Methylated spirits for cleaning
  • Bloxx-It Primer
  • Advanced Paint range in a Satinwood finish. ‘Parisian Taupe.’

So what did I do?

Well first off I covered the area with a big dust sheet and then taped off the wall and the inner part of the fireplace. Yes this takes a bit of time, but it means your painting is SO much quicker. I used to be a bit lazy with my prep, but I ended up spending so much time cutting in and cleaning off paint in unwanted areas that it drove me mad ! … now its Low Tack Washi Tape all the way !! lol. Trust me when i tell you, the finish you get is SO much better if you take the time to do your prep properly.

The blue Low Tack Washi Tape is the one for the wall area, as it doesn’t pull off the wall paint.

Step 1: Clean

Well you will see from the video the step by step process, the first thing I always do with every single project is CLEAN IT. Using a 50/50 mix of methylated spirits ( de-natured alcohol for those in the USA)  and water in an old squeezy bottle. Spray directly onto the wood and use a sponge to clean it. Wipe/dry off with kitchen roll or a dry cloth.

Step 2: Scuff Sand

Scuff sand. On the video I show you how to make a sanding block which makes scratching the surface much easier. You are not trying to get the finish off here, just create millions of little scratches for your new paint to stick to.

Step 3: Primer

Prime. Now this is the single most important bit.  This particular primer has super adhesion and will stick to this shiny surface and that means you will have a durable finish to your paint. If you are going to spend the day working on your fireplace, you want it to still lovely as lovely in 12 months time. So what primer did I use ?

Oil based Bloxx-It is a premium interior/exterior primer, sealer and stain killer. As it is an oil-based primer, the drying time is slightly longer (40 mins drying time, 120min re-coat time) but it has amazing adhesion qualities. It’s also fabulous for sealing in knots, not that I had that problem here, but this surface was rather shiny, so I knew this primer would adhere well and produce a blemish free finish

To Apply The Primer

I used a flock roller to apply the primer as it keeps it very flat. It can feel a bit sticky when you first start to use it (if you are used to only using water based primers) but that’s normal and the roller will help you spread it.

I did one thin even coat and let it dry ( See photo below ) Then I applied a second coat which gave full coverage and then I had my lunch break!

When the second coat was dry I gave all the flat areas a rub with my superfine sanding pad. This ensures I have a very flat finish before I start painting. You can also do this in between coats of paint as this makes the finish feel like glass and as I always tell my students, your furniture should feel as good as it looks.👌🏻

The Paint

I applied the paint in exactly the same way. I chose the Fleetwood Advanced in the Satinwood finish as I wanted the client to be able to wash down the paint. It is super tough and durable and thee best one to use around a heat source. I have added a little more detail about this particular range below. When  you read it you will see why I choose to work with the Advanced range.

The grooves in the woodwork were slow to do and I had to use a small 20mm craft brush to get into them whilst not using too much paint and causing drips. I did two coats of the paint and the colour chosen by the customer was ‘Parisian Taupe.’

You can clearly see by this close up photo that the finish was superb! That is due to the prep and the products but also the superfine sanding pad.

Below is a little more detail on the paint itself.


Available in an Undercoat, Eggshell, Satinwood and Gloss finish

Fleetwood Advanced Eggshell: Designers choice for kitchen cabinets and furniture upcycling (low sheen level of 12%)

Fleetwood Advanced Satinwood: Washable and tough for internal/external doors and skirting (mid sheen level of 25%)

Fleetwood Advanced High Gloss: High gloss finish for the perfect grand entrance, popular for front doors and skirting (high sheen level 80%)

  • LOW VOC content.
  • Ultra tough finish
  • No yellowing white stays white
  • Scuff and stain resistant
  • 6 year exterior protection!
  • Resists cracking and flaking
  • Excellent adhesion and coverage
  • No chipping and scratches
  • Touch dry finish in 30 mins with a recoat time in less than 2 hours
  • Tintable into every colour possible through the Fleetwood tinting system