How to Whitewash Brick & Build a Rustic Mantle

A white washed fireplace with a rustic mantle is such an easy quick way to add a little farmhouse feel to your home.

It also is a terrific project for a married couple to work on together. My husband and I enjoy working on the various projects we do around our home together. The teamwork is such a good thing for our marriage. As you know around here I talk a lot about a lifestyle of faith. Most of things I write about are about our heart lifestyle. These posts I share about our home is just that, our lifestyle at home. While those two things may be different to you, I believe they're the same. My faith is my entire life. It encompasses my heart, my home, my relationships...all of it. Our home projects are no different. We do them together...so you've got marriage 101 there, my friend. Okay, enough of that...lets' get down to the business of making over a fireplace, shall we?

How to whitewash a brick fireplace and build a rustic mantle to achieve a farmhouse look. MRSdesigns.net #homedecor #fireplacemakeover #beforeandafter #farmhousemantle #farmhouse

Steps to makeover a fireplace for a farmhouse look

1. Decide how white you want to go on your fireplace brick

There are such a range of possibilities here. In fact, you wouldn't have to go white, but if you're trying to acheive a farmhouse look, white is the best way to go. If you're nervous like I was, I recommend playing around with the technique and the white wash. I used four parts to one part paint. In fact, I used leftover ceiling paint for ours.

2. Decide on the look and size of your farmhouse mantle

Many of the finishes in our home are white and oil rubbed bronze. With that in mind I knew I wanted the brick white with the mantle a dark stain with a rustic look. A friend of mine was doing hers too and we bounced thoughts and ideas off of each other.  We also knew that our television was going to live on the mantle so that's what we based the decision for size on. After my husband measured and made sure what we needed we purchased white pine boards from Lowe's. I already had the stain I used on another project, so I was set in that department 

How to Whitewash brick

A fireplace Makeover for a farmhouse look

  1. Dive right in and just whitewash that fireplace brick! I was very nervous about doing this project. I knew it was one that once I started there was no turning back. As you can see in photo no. 4 above I chose to start whitewashing where the mantle would go just in case I chickened out!

  2. Get your supplies for your whitewashing project together. I used leftover ceiling paint and mixed four parts water to one part paint. I had an old brush that had been abused and decided to use it. It was a little stiff so I think this helped the process. I also grabbed an old sock who'd lost its mate a while back and a bowl of water. You'll need something to lay out to protect your floor and maybe a little painters tape and an old dry cloth. You'll need a ladder too.

  3. Get your work area in order for whitewashing the fireplace. I layed out my painter's tarp and used painter's tape to keep it in place and from scooting. I layed all the supplies out so they'd be easy to reach as this project moves quickly. I need everything accessible for quickly changing out tools.

  4. Work your whitewashing in small areas. This is not a stop and start project. Be sure you allow yourself the time needed to complete it. It took me one evening to do mine. As I said back up in step no. 1 about starting behind the mantle area...I highly recommend this if you're not completely sure. This way you can change your mind and go on down the road. Choose about a four or five brick area and just work there through the next steps before moving to next closest four or five bricks.

  5. Start applying the paint to whitewash. Depending on how much coverage you're looking for will be the deciding factor on how much paint you put on and how much you wipe off. Dip your brush into your whitewash mixture and begin by dabbing into the mortor or grooves of your brick section you're working in. (See photo no. 1 above) Work it into the mortor well. Your mixture is going to be very runny so be aware of the dripping. After working it into the mortor brush it over the face of the bricks in the area you've chosen. (See photo no. 2 above) Once the paint is applied immediately grab your sock and dip it into the bowl of water wringing it out and going over the area you just applied paint to and wiping off any excess and however much you like to acheive the look you're after. (See photo no. 3 above) Continue doing this over all the brick working in small areas. Photo no. 5 above shows how things were looking with the mantle area and the area below it done. I did find that I needed to change out my bowl of water and rinse my sock a couple of times before finishing the entire fireplace.

How to build a rustic mantle

A fireplace mantle makeover to acheive a farmhouse look

1.  As I suggested earlier in this post you need to decide ahead of time how wide and how deep you need your mantle to be. We planned ours around placing our tv on it when it was complete. We also chose to purchase plain pine wood. We did examine each piece looking for knots and some imperfections in the wood since our goal was rustic.

2. After we got the wood home my husband gave me several different tools with different shapes so I could distress the wood more. (See photo no. 2 above) I used each tool and banged, beat and hit the wood in various places to rough it up more for the rustic look I was going for. I did stay away from the edges because I didn't want that to cause a problem once we started assembling the mantle into a box.

3. After the roughing up was done we glued the pieces together to form our "box" shape. Clamping it so it dried correctly and evenly. Be sure to wipe off any glue that oozes out because this will not be a good look when it dries.

4. After it dried for a day I wiped on a couple of coats of walnut stain. It was the same stain I used for our farmhouse laundry shelf.

5. After waiting a couple days for the stain to dry and cure we were ready to instal the mantle. Not sure if it's easy for you to see in the whitewashing photos above, but our fireplace has bricks protruding out and were what the previous mantle was resting on. While we were still planning to use these for the new mantle, my husband did add a 2X4 in between these to add more support and stability. When we placed the new mantle on he anquored it to the 2x4 with some screws.

The side-by-side before and after of our fireplace makeover tells the story pretty good all on their own. 

Here's the complete look with the tv in its new home. I wasn't sure I'd like it here, but I love it. We sit on a reclining love seat most evening and watch a little tv and it's perfect for a very relaxed viewing. I feel like the pictures don't really do it justice. It's such a big change.

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