Marble fireplaces can be a beautiful focal point in any home. However, like most elements in your house, a marble fireplace is subject to looking outdated and dull over time. The good news is, that you don’t have to go through the expense and hassle of replacing the entire fireplace to give it a fresh look. With some simple preparation and the right type of paint, you can paint over your existing marble to revitalize its appearance.
Can You Paint a Marble Fireplace?
The short answer is yes, you can paint a marble fireplace. Marble is a durable and dense natural stone that can be painted on properly prepared. Painting marble requires some additional considerations compared to painting over other surfaces, but with the right steps, a painted marble fireplace can look fantastic.
Painting over marble provides an affordable way to update the look of your fireplace without fully replacing the marble. It allows you to change the color palette to match your current home decor better, as well as conceal any scratches or blemishes that have built up on the marble over time. With some elbow grease and careful prep work, your dated marble fireplace can look new again with a fresh coat of paint.
How to Prepare a Marble Fireplace for Painting
Proper preparation is crucial when painting over marble. Marble has a very smooth, glossy finish, which can cause paint to chip or peel if the surface is not prepped correctly. Here are some tips on getting your marble fireplace ready for a paint job:
- Clean the surface thoroughly – Use a degreaser to remove dirt, oil or residue. This will allow the paint to properly adhere. Be sure to remove any wax that may have built up on the marble over time.
- Lightly sand the marble – Using 100-grit sandpaper, lightly scuff up the surface. This helps the paint grip onto the slick marble surface. Focus on especially smooth areas.
- Wipe away all dust – Use a dry cloth to remove any dust left over from sanding. Ensure the marble is completely clean before painting.
- Apply primer – Priming the marble before painting is highly recommended. Primers formulated for slick surfaces will provide superior adhesion.
- Fill any cracks or holes – Use caulk or spackle to fill in any damages in the marble prior to painting. This gives you a smooth surface.
- Use painter’s tape – Tape off any area you do not want painted, like the ceiling or mantle. Carefully apply tape around intricate carvings.
Choosing the Right Paint for a Marble Fireplace
Once your marble is prepped, it’s time to select the right type of paint. Traditional latex wall paints may not adhere well to dense, glossy marble. Specialty paints formulated for slick or high-heat surfaces provide better results. Here are some good options:
Like brands Annie Sloan and Rust-Oleum, chalk paint is excellent for painting marble fireplace surrounds. The matte finish adheres to slick surfaces better than typical latex paints. Chalk paint does scratch off easier than latex, so take care around high-traffic areas. Using a clear sealer over chalk painted marble provides added protection.
Latex Enamel Paint
For painting marble fireplace mantels or surrounding walls, a high-quality enamel latex paint is a good choice. The slightly glossy finish gives a smooth, subtle sheen that complements marble’s natural veining. Behr Premium Plus Enamel and Sherwin Williams ProClassic latex enamels adhere well and provide a durable finish.
High Heat Spray Paint
For painting over marble on the fireplace hearth or interior, choose a specialty high heat paint made to withstand temperatures over 1000°F. High temperature spray paints like Rust-Oleum High Heat are ideal for covering marble fireplace interiors without peeling or discoloring. Apply several coats per the manufacturer’s directions for maximum durability.
Always prime marble before painting, no matter what type of paint you use. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is a top primer for slick surfaces like marble or tile. KILZ Adhesion Interior/Exterior Bonding Primer also works very well to improve paint adhesion.
Painting a Marble Fireplace Surround
The fireplace surround is the main decorative part of the fireplace and is most commonly marble or another natural stone material. Painting this fireplace area can completely transform its style and color palette. Here are some tips for painting a marble fireplace surround:
- For surrounds, latex or chalk paints work best. Test samples to see which formula adheres better.
- Lightly sand the marble, then apply a primer coat before painting.
- Use long, smooth brush strokes and a small trim brush for detail areas. Apply 2-3 thin coats of paint for best coverage.
- Expect to touch up paint more frequently on marble than drywall. Recoat every 2-3 years to keep it looking fresh.
- If you have intricate carvings or millwork, use painter’s tape to carefully mask off areas you don’t want painted.
- Work slowly and cautiously around ornate marble details so they maintain their definition.
- A matte or eggshell finish hides flaws better than high-gloss.
With the right prep and paint, you can paint marble fireplace surrounds any color you wish. Feel free to get creative with shades like navy blue, emerald green, or magenta to liven up your living room. Just be sure to use heat-resistant paints near heat sources.
Painting a Marble Fireplace Hearth
The hearth is the floor area directly in front of the fireplace opening. Natural stone hearths like marble withstand heat well, but will become blackened and sooty over time. Refinishing the hearth by painting it is a cost-effective way to restore its appearance. Use these tips when painting a marble fireplace hearth:
- Clean soot and burnt debris off the marble well so paint will adhere properly.
- Apply a high heat spray paint designed for fireplace interiors, like Rust-Oleum High Heat up to 1200°F.
- Allow proper cure time between coats as directed by manufacturer. High heat paint needs to harden to resist soot stains fully.
- Avoid darker colors and glossy finishes, as they easily show soot marks. Lighter neutrals like almond or ivory hide soot best.
- Recoat the hearth paint every 2-3 years or as needed to conceal soot and smoke stains over time.
How to Paint Inside a Marble Fireplace
The interior of the fireplace behind the grate or gas logs can also benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Smoke and soot buildup can make the inside of a marble fireplace look grimy. Use high heat spray paint for the best adhesion and heat resistance:
- Clean all soot, ash debris, grease or creosote thoroughly from the interior before painting.
- High heat paint options include Rust-Oleum Specialty 1200°F spray paint and KILZ High Heat spray paint.
- Apply several light coats according to manufacturer’s instructions, allowing proper drying time between coats.
- Reapply high heat spray paint periodically as needed when soot buildup returns.
Painting the interior of your marble fireplace is a simple and affordable way to make it look cleaner and brighter. Just be sure proper ventilation precautions are taken when painting inside a fireplace.
Painting a Marble Fireplace Mantel
The mantel is the shelf that sits above the fireplace opening. Mantels are often marble, wood, or brick. Follow these tips for painting a marble fireplace mantel:
- Latex enamel paints adhere to marble mantels without appearing too glossy.
- Thoroughly clean and scuff sand the mantel before priming and painting.
- Use painter’s tape to mask off the wall around the mantel edges for straight paint lines.
- Apply 2-3 thin coats of enamel paint, allowing proper dry time between coats.
- A satin finish has a subtle shine that complements marble nicely without excessive glare.
Painting a mantel is a great way to change its appearance without removing and replacing the existing marble. Plus, enamel paint provides a durable finish that holds up well on high-use surfaces like mantels.
Ideas for Painting a Marble Fireplace
If your dated marble fireplace has seen better days, try freshening it up with a new paint color scheme. Here are some stylish ideas to inspire your project:
For a clean, refreshed look, paint the entire fireplace white. Benjamin Moore Cloud White or Sherwin Williams Pure White are fresh options. Contrast with black fireplace doors or gas logs.
Black Accent Wall
Paint just the wall behind the fireplace black for drama. Try Benjamin Moore Onyx or Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. Leave marble and mantel white.
Navy Blue Fireplace
Dark navy blue instantly creates an elegant, cozy ambiance. Pair it with crisp white trim for a nautical vibe. Navy pairs nicely with marble’s gray veins.
Forest Green Accents
Deep green shades compliment marble’s natural swirls. Paint just the fireplace surround forest green, leaving the marble hearth and mantel white for contrast.
Brick Fireplace Makeover
Give a dated brick fireplace a makeover with a coat of paint. White or light gray paint updates vintage red brick. Use a masonry paint for long-lasting finish.
Metallic Paint Colors
Try a rich metallic paint like bronze, silver or gold leaf on the fireplace surround to make it a glamorous focal point. Keep the marble and walls light to make it pop.
Chalk Paint Fireplace
A chalk paint finish in a color like pale blue, pink or yellow provides a charming cottage look on marble. Can distress edges for an antique appearance.
Marble + Stone Accent Wall
Paint the wall around the fireplace a color like terracotta or rusty red. Make the fireplace pop by leaving the marble white. Add stone veneer trim.
Modern White + Gray
For contemporary cool, paint the fireplace surround light gray and the walls/mantel bright white. Add modern art and decor accessories in gray tones.
Green Marble Fireplace Makeover
Turn a dated green marble fireplace into a showstopper. Paint it a trendy dark green like Sherwin Williams Parakeet. Add white distressing.
How to Cover Up a Marble Fireplace
If you want to cover marble instead of painting it fully, here are some options:
- Install drywall over the brick or marble, then paint/wallpaper for seamless look
- Tile over the marble surface for a sleek, modern appearance
- Add wood planks, shiplap boards or a wider mantle to conceal the dated marble
So if your outdated marble fireplace needs a facelift, painting provides an affordable and effective way to transform its look. With the right preparation and paint, you can give new life to your existing fireplace without undergoing a full replacement. Choose colors and finishes that complement your decor, use specialty paints made to adhere to marble, and take care prepping the surface, and your dated fireplace will look like new again. Give your fireplace a fresh coat of paint and watch it become a stunning focal point once more!