One of my absolute favourite blogs and go-to places for DIY inspiration is Little House on the Corner, by couple Christine and Jan who are renovating and restoring their Edwardian home up in Manchester.
I can’t even remember how I stumbled across their inspirational site but I absolutely love their dedication to the cause of period home renovation and kindness and generosity with tips on how to complete tasks, some of which aren’t always terribly glamorous but need to get done. They also very much appeal to my total anal retentiveness when it comes to working on the house which often makes Pete casts his eyes upwards in total despair, probably wondering why he can’t have a wife who will just settle for “best effort”.
When I feel like another project is beyond me, Little House on the Corner keeps me going and with this in mind I finally got around to painting the inside of our fireplace last weekend. Here’s a reminder of what our old, illegal gas fireplace looked like – lovely, no?
Since June when the installation was completed, we’ve been left with an almost-finished project, almost but not quite and we weren’t really sure how to move forward.
Before I go on I have to state here and now that Pete is not a painter. I don’t know why since I’m sure he would be very good at it but so far all the painting projects around the house have been completed by me, learning my trade as I go. He does lots of other things very well and is very thorough but painting is definitely left up to me.
We came across various posts online and on speaking to people about why generally the inside of fireplaces after log burner installations are either left as render or fitted out with plaster board – apparently plastering is not a solution since the heat from the log burner causes it to bubble. Who knows whether that’s really the case but anyway, we had a pretty messy rendered finish to contend with and it really didn’t do the log burner any favours in terms of appearance.
We’d been to specialist paint shops and researched online about what paint would be suitable to use, again bearing in mind how hot the surface will get. One such “specialist” told us that there is heatproof paint on the market but it only comes in black or grey and whilst I didn’t argue the case I thought to myself “don’t tell me people pay out a lot of money for these things only to paint their fireplaces black – no way!”
So I finally decided just go to it alone and do what I think is best – after all, if you don’t believe everything you read in the news, why should you believe everything you read on the internet? Here’s my simple steps to painting the inside of a fireplace, or any internal render:
- Prepare your surface – had the render been more professionally finished, I would have smoothed out any lumps and bumps with some sandpaper, before brushing or using the brush attachment on a hoover to suck up all the dust and small particles. As it was, my main concern was that if I started sanding it would all just come away so I brushed up any residue to make the area as clean as I could.
- Mix your seal – render is a very porous surface so you shouldn’t paint straight onto it. The best thing to do is water down the paint you plan to use, and again you’ll see different guidelines. I used a ratio of 60% paint to 40% water, mixing in a paint kettle. It’s really essential that you do use the right paint, a water-based matt emulsion such as this one is ideal.
- Don’t be disheartened if your paintwork looks patchy at this stage, remember you’re just sealing the render so you can then paint on to it properly. Two coats should be just fine, and be careful because it’s very runny! The coats won’t take long to dry and then you’ll be ready for the main paint.
- Add a first coat of your chosen paint. You should already notice how much easier it is to apply and how much brighter the space is looking.
- Leave to dry and preferably the next day add a second coat. You will almost certainly need 2 coats and depending on how it looks after a second coat, possibly even a third one.
I’m totally amazed what a different painting the fireplace has made, it looks so clean and modern now. Only time will tell how well the paint reacts to high temperatures but if I need to retouch it every 6 months or so that’s the price I’m willing to pay for a more attractive feature piece.
Oh, and my cleaning hack? I DID get spatters of paint all over the slate hearth and the log burner but my ceramic hob spray cleaner and ceramic hob cloth cleaned it up an absolute treat, both available from Lakeland. Also Johnson’s baby oil is wicked at giving a nice sheen to the hearth and stove, as is WD40.
Thank you Little House on the Corner for inspiring me to keep carrying on…now if only I could finish that staircase restoration project!
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