3 Ways to Modernize an Old Brick Fireplace

Older homes built prior to the postwar era may feature one or more brick fireplaces. The brick fireplace was a standard for home heating prior to the introduction of forced air heating. Today, brick fireplaces tend to be more aesthetic features than anything else. So what do you do if you don’t like what the brick looks like?

Some people love the look of old brick because it reminds them of days gone by. Others like having a fireplace, they just aren’t fond of the brick work. Well, the good news is that there are options. You can keep an old brick fireplace without having to continue looking at something you find unappealing.

Below are three ways to modernize an old brick fireplace without actually removing and replacing it. Note that any decision you make to update your fireplace must be done in accordance with local fire code.

 1. Paint the Brick

Though painting old brick might seem unthinkable to master brick masons, it is actually pretty popular right now. Painted brick has become a design feature that home buyers actually look for. Painting your old brick fireplace brings it up to modern standards without costing a fortune.

Getting the best finished product may require some repair work. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a professional. Otherwise you could end up with a fireplace that doesn’t look any better painted.

For the record, you can paint both the exterior of your fireplace and the firebox itself. Just make sure you use high-temperature paint capable of withstanding the heat of a fire. And yes, invest in high-temperature paint even if you don’t plan to ever use the fireplace. The next owner may want to use it.

2. Paint and Add an Insert

Another option is to paint the exterior but revitalize the firebox with an insert. This is a good option for people who want a functional fireplace but are not interested in the hassles of burning wood. Paint covers up the exterior while the insert covers the exposed brick in the firebox.

Inserts can be gas, electric, or even digital. Some have blowers that send heat in the room. Your choices are really limited only by your needs and budget.

3. Go with Concrete

A third option, and the most expensive of the three, is to opt for a custom fireplace with a concrete facade. Modern Craftsman is a Salt Lake City company that specializes in custom concrete fireplaces. They say concrete is a popular choice among people who don’t like the painted brick look.

Depending on how your fireplace is constructed, the exterior brick may have to be removed. Then again, you might be able to leave it in place and just lay the concrete over the top. Your contractor will let you know what your options are.

People who appreciate custom concrete fireplaces tend to love the aesthetic. Finished concrete is truly beautiful if it’s installed by a genuine artisan. It also stands up very well to heat, so there are no worries there. The big downside is cost. A custom concrete fireplace is going to be a lot more expensive than a few cans of high-temperature paint.

Increase Your Home’s Value

No matter how you go about it, freshening up an old brick fireplace should increase your home’s value. There is no guarantee that the value will go up enough to cover your costs, but at least a refreshed fireplace is a good selling point. Buyers would rather see painted brick or a concrete facade than old, worn-out brick that has seen better days.

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