Paint a brick fireplace for sale?

Fori is not pleasedMay 11, 2011

My Realtor would like me to paint my brick fireplaces before putting the house on the market. They are a little dated, but painted wouldn't they just look dated and painted? Like I couldn't afford to reface them? The brick itself isn't dated, just the arrangement which will not change.

Clearly I'm not a fan of painted brick. Unless you've got really ugly brick, to me, painting it is like painting tile.

It seems sort of low end starter home tacky cheap to me. I've never seen painted brick look good.

But the RE agent is experienced in the neighborhood. Do people really care? Does it really matter?

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Got any pics?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:21PM
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She's probably getting that from the decorating shows where they're always painting brick because they have to do SOMETHING since they're doing a make-over. I would NEVER paint brick unless it was horrendous. I would be so disappointed if I looked at a house and was told it had brick fireplaces and I walked in and they were painted.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:55PM
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I have to agree, painted brick looks ugly and cheap. On the other hand, ugly dated brick isn't much better.

We covered our ugly brick with slate tile; it wasn't expensive at all and it was relatively easy to do (we'd never tiled before in our life, and we managed to do a decent job). But slate works in SoCal; not sure if it would be appropriate in other parts of the country.

Pics would probably help us to see if your brick is actually that dated looking...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:39AM
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REA's are not designers. If the brick is dirty, clean it. Otherwise, let it be, as the room as a whole is more important to focus upon as opposed to changing the color of the brick.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:57AM
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Unless the brick is a complete disaster leave it alone.

Clean it.

Painting brick is a very one way decision.

It is VERY difficult to remove the paint completely.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:42AM
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Don't paint it. Your agent probably watches wayyyyy to much HGTV.
But, I agree, pix would help.

For some unknown reason to me, kids these days are digging the mid-century modern and even 70s design elements. One's "dated" is another's "vintage", so keep that in mind. ;)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:57AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks y'all. I'll try to get over there to get some pictures. While the Realtor did say off the bat we'd want to paint them, the official recommendation comes from a gang of stagers he uses. I've seen a house they staged and it was lovely but it was a newer home.

Maybe we can market it as a Madmen fireplace? OK, it never was that up-to-date. But I always thought it was tasteful.

I do appreciate the input. I know I should trust my agent because he's been selling houses here forever, but really now! What's next? painted shingles? :P

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:21AM
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I think there are people who love painted brick and people who love unpainted brick. Kind of like the painted wood/unpainted wood divide. I agree with others that it'd have to be an unusual situation to paint the brick.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Are you talking about a whole wall of brick or just brick in the fireplace surround? Is this a 70's ranch or an urban rowhouse?

FYI - there is nothing unusual or new about painting masonry. HGTV certainly didn't dream it up.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:14PM
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No, of course not, but they did make it fashionable to paint brick, woodwork and even tile and wallpaper (wtf? who paints tile?) in the name of "punching up a space" and tearing out walls in older homes to make "an open floor plan for entertaining." Now, I'm all about tearing down the 80s glass block divider, but painting exposed beams in a bungalow? (I've actually seen this.)

Many of their staging/get it sold shows sport the motto, if you paint it, it will sell.

They spout the golden trinity - ss appliances, hardwood floors and granite countertops so often it's become a joke. Not surprisingly, some of their major sponsors are HD and Lowe's, go figure. They treat houses and their finishes like they're disposable and replaceable and then fill them with other disposable, replaceable, plasticky crap. It's unfortunate that younger generations seem to embrace this "gimme cheap and gimme a lot of it - if it breaks or I don't want it anymore, I'll just throw it away and get something else" attitude. It's wasteful and disgusting. If you wanted an open concept, modern house with laminate floors and vinyl windows, buy one. Don't wreck a beautiful old home for those of us who appreciate them and then have to try to fix what you did to that poor house.
And that's all I have to say about that. ;)

But, back to the OP's issue, I still wouldn't do it, but yes, more information on the house and brick type would be helpful.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 2:03PM
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(After re-reading that previous post, I sound like an ornery old woman trapped in a thirtysomething's body.)

That's also not to say one can never change anything, but painting brick is darn near permanent. If it really screams 1972, change out the doors, or use one of those kits to cover it.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 2:08PM
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I wouldn't do it.

It cannot be reversed, but the new buyer can always paint it themselves.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:14PM
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Gee, I guess I'm the only one who likes painted brick. I painted my 50s fireplace brick black at the suggestion of a designer (I hired her for an hour or two just to get some ideas, not about moving). We have a gas insert, so there were too many competing colours and themes - insert, brick, trim around brick, drywall beside trim. I think it looks great! Everytime I visit my brother's 70s house, I'm itching to paint his caramel-coloured fireplace brick. To me, it looks hideous, with the grout a dark colour.

I agree that you can't undo the paint job, but shouldn't you trust your Realtor and/or stager? Your internet audience aren't your buyers.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:55PM
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Badgergrrl, I agree with everything you said!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks guys--I feel less untrendy at least!

These fireplaces don't have doors, and one has so little brick it could be covered with a tasteful screen or something. They're both surrounded by painted (formerly oak--argh!) built-ins so I don't know what they could even be painted to not look dreadful.

OVgardener, I understand about gross colored brick. Some brick is just bad. These are brick colored.

I haven't been able to get back for a picture today--here is an old one of the dining room fireplace that doesn't show much of the room, but are these bricks that offensive in a whole wall of stuff? I should mention, MIRRORED display with glass shelves above white cabinets with white trim. If anything should be painted for being dated, why not the mirrors?... Ignore the beanbag decor. The bricks end right where you'd think with a simple white mantel above and a big plastered area over that for art.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:31PM
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No that brick is not offensive and I like it. I wouldn't paint that. That is not the kind of brick I expected to see at all.

Very cute kid!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 7:30AM
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Awwww...cute baby! I would leave the brick alone.

Our house is very late 70s. In the family room, nearly a whole wall is taken up with a floor to ceiling brick fireplace. I'm so glad its not painted - but maybe that is too much brick to even consider painting?? The wood paneling has been painted though. I wouldn't be surprised if the room orginally had shag carpet too. Oh, and the face plates on the outlets were like gold brass,leopard print. (I did change those out.)

I didn't do everything my agent suggested when prepping my house for sale. And, I don't think he took it personally. I picked the things I thought were most imporant plus the things I could do fairly easily.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 7:53AM
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That is pretty non-offensive brick. I certainly wouldn't paint it. From your original description, I expected a wall of beige brick or something.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 8:17AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks all. Here's a picture of the empty room:

It's insignificant! Anyway I think the brick distracts you from realizing there are no windows in the room. :)

As far as the wall of brick, well the other one is closer to that. It was a western themed room I believe, 50s style. The beams on the ceiling have been removed, the curves on the bookshelves have been hidden, but the crane in the fireplace remains.

I don't mind the brick here either, although it has a slightly painted look. I don't like the bit on the floor, but that would look REALLY bad painted I think. Looks like a spot for a nice hearth rug.

As long as you're looking, is this wall color neutral enough? I still need to meet with the stagers and see what their recommendations are, but I dread being told I need accent walls...
And if the stagers don't suggest removing the drapes (put in by PO), I'm gonna fire them straight off.

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:35PM
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With the built in bookcases, I can see where painting the fireplaces white might really look good -esp. in the dining room. But, I probably still wouldn't do it because I'm stubborn.

I think your walls are a great color.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 3:32PM
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I think your wall color works well with the floor and trim.

Let us know what your stagers suggest.

Personally, I like the look of painted brick. To me, unpainted brick looks like the outside of a home. Only dustier. But that's just me, so I'll shut up, because it sounds like the people who don't think brick should be painted feel stronger about the issue than those of us who like painted brick.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 8:55PM
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I'm on the "paint the brick" side. I think it would make the room look fresher and brighter. But, I happen to love painted brick, which I think is a classic look.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 4:46PM
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It is not a lot of brick, and as a result, painting it won't make a huge difference. I like painted brick, but in this case I think I would leave it for the new owners to decide.

Your place shows well.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 8:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks everyone for the opinions. I think I will let it be. And I'll make a deal with the paint-it crowd: buy my house and I'll paint those fireplaces any color you want! (Of course you'll first have to sit through a lecture about how wrong it is...kidding of course!)


    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 8:20PM
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The dining room fireplace is pretty as is, don't paint it.

The "Western" room, changing the black hinges on the cabinets would help. That fireplace needs a lot of help and paint would help it. Bottom right of the firebox, what is with the four rows of one brick wide? The same spacing above with no brick?

Someone messed up building that fireplace and it looks like they painted some bricks. No natural brick is that white.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:50PM
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Fori is not pleased

The bricks have a uh...antiquey faux old reclaimed painted finish. It's found on the exteriors of many homes in this suburb. The Realtor actually said this one was okay. Makes me wonder!

I'm not sure what is messed up, Gammyt--it's odd but properly built. The weird opening is for the crane. The firedogs need to go so the crane works. A closeup. Excuse Farmer Jed.

I don't know when the unmatching herringbone stuff was dropped on the floor. Probably after an accident with the bean pot.

Yes, it did come with that pot. It will not go with that pot. It is a fabulous cast iron roaster from the 1920s and perfect in every way. OMG do I need to include a bean pot? :O

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:13PM
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Had a similar dilemma in my house... the brick had been painted and I have built in bookcases/mantle too. It was a horrible orange, but I couldn't figure out what to do. FInally decided to match it to the paint swatch, but a few shades lighter, and it looked awesome. I'd also use black outdoor grille paint and paint the inside of your FP matte black. Make sure you ventilate.

After seeing your pics... I'd try something.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 12:41AM
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I find that interesting that the one I would have painted if any of them would be the one your realtor said not to paint. Must be regional differences.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 7:08AM
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Whoa, yeah, i agree with lyfia, and I too wonder what your realtor is thinking?

If I were going to paint either of them, I would paint the asymmetrical one, I don't think the randomly mismatched brick tones or the herringbone front are doing it any favors - there's too much going on. I might even go so far to say, it should be painted *gasp*.

I like the other one as is, don't touch that one.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:04AM
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Fori is not pleased

If it matters, I didn't paint the bricks. At the Realtor open house, all the agents said we needed to paint the bricks. We sold pretty quickly with naked bricks. In a few weeks maybe I'll stop by and ask the new neighbors (we didn't go far at all) if they've painted them!

Anyway, the advice was much appreciated. (And yeah, that herringbone stuff on the floor bugged me a lot--I was tempted to pull it up but I suspect there was something under it like a smoldering log mark. Great spot for a hearth rug!)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 7:15PM
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Thanks for coming back and giving an update. I think not painting was the right thing to do.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Do let us know if the new owners did paint! (or plan to) :-)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 7:43AM
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