I want to paint some side bricks on a fireplace mantle and wall tiles for a hearth in a terra cotta red, not black. These bricks and tiles are already there and rather than plastering over them I want to find some heat resistant paint so I can still show off the bricks and tiles in a nice traditional color. I have been to all the do-it-yourself stores, and they have referred me to local stores but no one can help. Can you help? S.B.
My usual caveat about painting concrete and masonry substrates is—don’t do it unless you really must. If you must paint the bricks and terra cotta tiles, there are a couple of rules to follow. First, clean the substrates to remove dirt and oily soils. In this case, this would include sap and combustion products such as soot and creosotes, which are sometimes emitted outside the firebox and chimney. Next, paint the substrates by brushing, working the paint into the surfaces. Use as thin a coat as required to cover the surface.
You can use conventional paints for fireplace mantles. Since the brick on the mantle will see little temperature increase, the paint will last for years. Most people use wall paints.
The hearth tiles are another problem. Although they will also not see much heat, they are subject to abrasion from fireplace tools, flowerpots, foot traffic and whatever else is dragged across them. For this reason, an epoxy or polyurethane floor paint should be applied.