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How to update a 1970’s stone fireplace

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Today I am sharing how to update a 1970’s stone fireplace with a brass surround. The fireplace surround  got a quick makeover with the help of black high heat enamel by Rust-oleum. Updating an old fireplace surround with paint can give your room and fireplace a designer modern look in no time. This post contains affiliate links. 

The fireplace surround was originally a brass color (that had stone along the edges) that I decided to paint brown a couple years ago. While brass is currently “in”, this brass was old and dull. Once we finished our fireplace makeover that was surrounded by stone, the brown dull paint didn’t look good so I decided to purchase paint for fireplace surround in a black satin high heat paint from Rustoleum. You can buy it here!

Do you have a fireplace you would like to update? A fireplace update can add not only value to your home but it can create cozy fresh space in your home to gather with family and friends. This particular fireplace was original to our old house that was sold a few years ago but we recently updated a fireplace at the split level flip house and it brought back memories of this project!

How to Paint a Metal Fireplace Surround

How to paint a brass fireplace is a simple process and the prep work is key. You will be amazed at how quickly you can update a fireplace on a budget with paint. 

Rustoleum high heat paint to update a fireplace surround

What type of paint should you use for a fireplace surround? You definitely want to research and be sure to use a high heat paint and something that is safe for a fireplace or grill. 

Here is a picture of the fireplace with stone and metal surround. It was original from when the house was build in 1970’s and had old heat vents built in. I was so happy when my dad agreed to help me update the fireplace! Check out the fireplace makeover by clicking through this post, how to update a stone fireplace.

1970's dramatic fireplace makeover

How Can I Update My Fireplace?

The first step is to purchase your paint supplies. 

Items needed:

  1. Rustoleum high heat paint (I used black paint) and a foam brush.
Rustoleum black high heat paint for metal fireplace surround

To start the process of updating your brass or metal fireplace surround, start by cleaning the fireplace surround with a damp cloth and be sure it’s dry before applying the enamel.

I purchased disposable foam & bristle brushes and simply painted thin layers over the existing brown/brass fireplace surround.

I found that using the foam brush was the easiest to apply the paint to the fireplace.

use a foam brush to apply black high heat paint to fireplace metal surround

How to paint metal fireplace surround

Over three days, I applied 3 different coats of paint to the metal fireplace surround. While the painting process if very easy, you will need to be patient while updating your fireplace. I wanted to make sure the paint was thoroughly dry before adding another coat. 

The Rustoleum high heat paint directions said that it would be dry to the  touch in a 4-6 hours but it was still tacky so I just let it dry for a full 24 hours before applying a 2nd coat.

Drying time will depend on the temperature of your house.

Here is the before picture of the fireplace being framed during the makeover. You can see the brown painted insert.

wood 2x10's covering fireplace stone hearth with brown metal fireplace surround

Painting tip: When painting a fireplace surround, do not load your brush up with paint, it will run and leave drips everywhere.

I love how the black looks against the newly painted white fireplace.

RELATED: See this fireplace full makeover post including how we covered the old stone fireplace with wood.

white wood fireplace surround with fall decorations and fall wreath

Brass Fireplace Surround Makeover

I searched google for a couple days to figure out how to update a fireplace with brass surround and finally settled on painting the brass black with Rustoleum paint. I met a woman at Home Depot in the paint department that also recommended the painting option.  

We are planning to install a pellet stove insert at some point so in the meantime, this solved the issue of the old brass and brown paint. I think the black against the fresh white paint looks beautiful and clean. A much needed improvement :).

Do you have a brass metal fireplace surround that needs to be updated? Hopefully this tutorial and fireplace makeover has shown you how to paint a brass fireplace surround and inspired you to update your own!

Would you like to see this full fireplace project makeover? Be sure to view all the posts on our new fireplace category page. 

Pssst…. did you know we have an Amazon Storefront now (read that post here)? You can shop all of our home decor & so much more! It doesn’t cost you any more or less money to shop from our Amazon Store 🙂 Any commissions we make, are paid by the brand and they help pay for monthly fees to keep the blog up and running 😀.

Disclosure: be sure to check your local fire codes prior to working on any fireplace

About The Author

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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57 Comments

  1. I think it looks gorgeous!
    I want to do the same with our ugg-oh fireplace but I need to figure out how to re-face around the recirculating vents. I’m pinning the DIY paint tip, for sure!
    Thanks!

    1. Anonymous says:

      If it’s runny and I can still see the brass through it do I wait til it’s dry and apply another coat?

  2. This was a very interesting post. We have been wanting to re paint our woodstove with this but were wondering about the fumes. Were they bad? Is this something that is best done in the summer months when we can open our windows?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. I didn’t think the fumes were bad. I cracked the window for a bit but I probably didn’t need to. Good luck! 🙂 PS> the spray paint version I know smells worse.

      1. I started to use the spray paint version and it is horribly strong! I was so glad to see this post. I am going to finish it off with what you suggested. I like the idea of being able to control where it goes. A spray can is hard to control.

        1. Yes spray can definitely have a lingering strong smell. This smells a bit too but not as bad. Good luck with your project 🙂

  3. Jessica: Great information. I’m already half way there. The other half is the need to replace the screen and brass window-doors – so over it after 27 years. We were thinking of removing the screen and brass window-doors and adding a very nice vintage-looking 3 panel screen OR maybe replace the screen and brass window-doors with something more modern than brass. Your valued thoughts?

    1. Hi, you could always buy the insert piece you are thinking about trying and keep the tags on it and live with it (next to your fireplace) for a couple days and if you love it, keep it. If not return it! Just check their return policy before you buy it. It’s funny b/c brass is actually “in” right now but more of an updated/modern brass. If you have the kind of brass like we had, it’s dull and kind of yellowey….ugly :(. I know that replacing those doors can be pricey but if you despise looking it at and can afford to change it out, I would definitely go for it 🙂 We are adding a pellet insert to ours eventually (we don’t use the wood burning stove anymore) so I just painted ours for the time being. Good luck and send over a picture when you get it finished! 🙂

  4. How many coats did it take to complete?

  5. Did you have to use primer before u did the brown….and/or use sand paper or steel wool to scuff it up a little so paint would stick to it?

      1. Did you finish with wood right up against the brass or did you use a stone or tile in between? Thanks.

      2. She asked you if you to prep the brass BEFORE you painted it BROWN. I was wondering the same. I would think the brass would need to be prepped.

  6. Hi,
    So I actually used the matte black rustoleum on our ugly brass fireplace surround. I LOVE how it turned out and how it completely changed the look. However, I did notice that it scratches right out. So now I can’t even latch our fireplace to close it. Has anyone else had this problem?

    1. Glad you like it! What do you mean scratches right out? We don’t have a latch on ours, the doors open and close kind of like a bifold door so they don’t hook on anything.

      1. ashley searcey says:

        Do you have to have paint down first as a primer or can you just add a few coats of the enamel to the bare brass?

    2. Hi Cecily,
      I also used the matte black on my brass surround after I had lightly sanded and washed with Dawn soap and water. I applied one light coat but the next day it was rubbing off on my fingers like soot. I called Rustoleum and was told it could have been a bad can of paint and to wipe down with mineral spirits and re-apply with a new can of paint. I spent today removing the paint with mineral spirits. I am going to use sandpaper more aggressively and then try stove paint.

  7. Jacqueline S. says:

    I’m curious, how has this held up? I’m literally looking at my dark country blue and brass (I wish I was lying) fireplace insert and thinking that I need to go to Lowes tonight!!!! I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t regret it!

  8. Jacqueline S. says:

    I was curious as to how this has held up? I’m literally looking at my dark country blue and brass (I wish I was lying) insert and am desperately trying not to drive to Lowes right this second. I just want to make sure I won’t regret it!

  9. Diane Lavoie says:

    Came out great! Nice idea

  10. It looks beautiful and you just painted over the brass? I need to try this immediately!

    1. I’m curious, too. I cant believe that shiny brass doesn’t need to be prepped.

      1. I just painted right over the brass. It took a few coats though and 2 years later it still looks great!

    2. Hey Toni! Thank you 🙂 I just painted over the brass (I cleaned it first with a damp cloth). It still looks fabulous today 🙂 Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

  11. Hi, I’m thinking about trying this with my fireplace, but I have one concern. Have you used your fireplace after you’ve done this? Does the high heat rustoleum paint really hold up? My husband tried painting our tailgating grill with an automotive high heat paint & it’s peeling.

  12. Hi. we are in the process of trying this on our old brass fireplace insert. When I mean in the process it has been a process. We applied the paint as you described but it bubbled up so we had to sand it and tried again-same thing bubbled all around. So we sanded, primed with Kilz spray paint and repainted. Still bubbling but not so many spots. I am glad your attempt was easier, thanks for the inspiration.

    1. oh wow that is crazy! I wonder if it has something to do with your surface? That stinks. Yes, ours was an easy application with no issues. Good luck getting yours to adhere properly

  13. Since you used a foam brush to apply the Rustoleum paint, do you see any brush marks? Thought spray painting would keep a clean look. Using a brush would definitely be easier than spray painting. Could you show us a close up of your finished area?
    Thank you for showing us the step-by-step instructions!

  14. Hi,
    I’m having a difficult time finding the black matte paint, not the spray. Where did you find it? all i’ve seen is BBQ black and satin black unless it’s the spray can.

  15. Hello,
    I’m trying to do something like this to mine but I only want to do the bottom half.

  16. Michele Dowell says:

    I did my first coat and it is not really covering. Did that happen to you?

  17. Hello! I just got my can of brush-on paint in “BBQ Black” and applied the first three coats to my old brass fireplace. We have three fireplaces (!!!), two of which are two-sided, if that makes sense…..so a lot of brass.
    Here’s where I’ve struggled: three solid coats in and it is so blotchy and weird! It’s struggling to stick to several spots, and where it is sticking is looking bubbled and super stroke-y, if that makes sense. I started in the least trafficked area, sanded one side but not the other, and I’m hardly seeing a difference. Additionally, the “BBQ Black,” which is the only color I’d seen online, is suuuuuuper glossy. I haven’t found a “matte” black in this type anywhere online.

    Anyhow else have a similar issue? If so, any ideas for me? Was hoping after all I’d read that this would be a quick and easy update, and it’s been anything but. : (

    1. Hi Lauren! That is so strange your results, I am wondering if it’s the kind of stain/brand? I know if there is any kind of debris or chemical on the brass, it may cause an issue. You could try calling the brand of the stain you got to see if they have any tips. It sounds like the stain is having a “reaction” in spots on the brass.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thank you! I’ll try giving Rustoleum a call.

  18. Is this safe to use with a gas fireplace

  19. What paint did you use for the brown you did originally? For my decor, the brown would be perfect but was that also a high-heat product? It looks like it held up ok. Thanks!

      1. Jackie Williams says:

        Where did you get it? What was the brown paint you used?

  20. Thanks so much for your post. I don’t like spray paint or the
    fumes. My fireplace has handled with wood inserts , can I paint those as well?

  21. Jackie Williams says:

    Your fireplace looks so great! I would like to do the same with brown paint because my fireplace is surrounded by brown wood. I love the idea of paint instead of spray paint! My question is what kind of brown paint did you use? Also, was it gloss or matte? Thanks so much!

  22. Cheryl Arcella says:

    I wish Rust-oleum High Heat made this in flat black or Matte. But it is the only high heat one that you can brush on. I did scratch mine up a bit with sand paper so the paint has something to grab. And I certainly didn’t want to risk spraying in my home! It probably would be even better if I got my electric sander out to scratch it even further. But I know you painted yours first with a flat brown, so that’s going to act as your primer for this enamel you used this time around. But I’m keeping my finger crossed that all will be ok. I think we get too excited to get it done and be done with that brass;) So one coat is on now and still a bit tacky, so I’m going to wait a bit longer. Just hope I’m going to like the shiny black. Jessica your fire place looks great so I hope mine will look great too. Thank you for your information. I thought that maybe the people out there should know that having your flat brown in there is helping it adhere better. Cheryl Arcella

  23. Jackie Hartley says:

    Can I use this paint to paint the granite fireplace surround? It’s a dark green granite and I would like to paint it black. Can you help me?