Updating exterior of brick fireplace
Whether you add one coat of primer or a few, let the primer dry completely before going any further.
Many favor the use of elastodynamic paint for brick.
Note that you can darken or lighten the tone by adding pigment or water, respectively.
Once you have a mixture that imparts a color you like, spread on the stain by moving the brush in a uniform direction.
Preparing brick for staining is no different from preparing it for painting.
In either case, clean the surface thoroughly, allowing it to dry completely before moving forward.
With more pronounced issues, repointing the brick may be necessary.
Take a look, pick your favorite, and don’t settle for that ugly, old fireplace!
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Depending on the area of the surface you wish to paint, use a brush or roller or paint sprayer to apply a coat of latex primer.
Put additional coats on those sections that have been affected either by efflorescence or mildew.