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Painting the Walls around a Fireplace or Multi Fuel Stove

Within this post Rawlins Paints will be looking at common problems faced when painting fireplaces and around multi-fuel stoves. It is these problems that can make picking the best fireplace paint a tricky task, but don’t worry, we’ve some advice on using flame-retardant systems too.

When you’re installing anything that involves fire, you need to think about preparation and safety. A fireplace can make a stunning addition to any room, adding instant impact and a homely feel. Not to mention you’ll be cosy! Multi Fuel Stoves are also a very distinct type of fireplace, which make a statement in any living room or entrance hall.

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Contents and Quick Links

Installing a Multi Fuel Stove

Before starting your fireplace project, it is important to check your fireplace is suitable for the stove you intend to buy/have installed. If you are using a professional installer for a new stove, they should advise you on which stove to buy and what regulations must be met for your property and fireplace. If you want to get a heads up on what is involved or you are attempting to install it yourself, take a look at this article on Building Regulations for Fireplaces.

Once you’ve chosen your fireplace and stove and you’re ready to install or whether you’re just thinking about updating an existing fireplace and stove, you may be thinking about painting the walls around the fire. Fire safety is important whether it’s your home or workplace so you need to take all the preventative measures possible.

Painting a Fireplace – Problems

Fireplace recesses can’t have anything combustible in them, so materials like stone and brick are fine but if you want that smooth plastered finish you need to make sure you use special fire and flame retardant versions of the board and skim.

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Painting your recess creates additional problems. The area immediately surrounding your fire will get hot when the fire is in use. This will discolour normal paints and eventually cause them to crack, flake and peel off the surface. Heat resistant paint is available at Rawlins Paints, but generally only in black and silver colours – not always the colour of choice for a homely and welcoming fireplace surround. Another issue is neither the conventional paints nor the heat resistant paints are fire retardant.

Heat resistant paints are coatings that can withstand high temperatures, up-to 750°C, and are most commonly used for BBQs, chimneys, pipes, vehicle exhausts, and other metallic items.

Unfortunately, fire retardant paint is not ideal either. These paints are designed to react in a fire to protect the surface they are applied to and once they have done their job they must be removed and re-applied to ensure protection is maintained. Under increased heat from a fire, fire retardant paint will discolour, as they are for safety in event of a fire and not decoration after the effect.

Fire retardant paints generally work in two ways, when controlling the spread of flame on a surface (BS Class 1/0) the most common technology is for the coatings to emit a vapour when they encounter increased heat (usually above 180°C) from a fire. The job of the paint is to react to the fire for safety purposes and slow the spread of the fire down, not act as a heat resistant/high temperature coating. The other is intumescent coatings, these products provide 30, 60, 90 or 120min protection to their substrate and are available for use on wood, steel or plasterboard/lathe & plaster. They work by intumescing (swelling up like an expanding foam) to deal with the fire and protect the substrate (walls, doors, etc.) for the defined length of time. These coatings do provide a degree of insulation from heat and guarantee to keep the surfaces they are protecting safe from the effects of the fire until the stated protection time has elapsed.

If the stove has not been fitted correctly, it is not advised to decorate around the fireplace with a product unsuitable for the task, like those described above. If it has been correctly fitted by a professional (check with your landlord if in doubt), there are some products that will do the job.

Painting a Fireplace and Around a Stove – Solutions

The best advice we can give to paint fireplace recesses is to not do it if you are unsure whether the stove has been installed correctly, but if you know it has been, we suggest using a flame retardant topcoat. These types of products are used to finish fire retardant paint systems and come in most conventional paint finishes – matt emulsions, eggshell, gloss, etc. and can usually be bought in a wide range of colours.

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By using a flame-retardant topcoat you can decorate the area safely. Although they are not heat resistant, they will withstand temperatures up to around 70-80°C comfortably and you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not painting the surface with something combustible.

With a correctly installed stove, the temperature on the wall shouldn’t be more than that from a standard radiator (approx. 60°C), and for this job the following products are suitable:

For an ordinary paint system

1x coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 followed by 2x coats of Zinsser Perma-White Interior.

Shop:

  zinsser-perma-white-interior

Flame-retardant paint system

1x coat of Bollom Flameguard Ultra Primer and Undercoat followed by 2x coats of either Bollom Flameguard Ultra Vinyl Matt or Bollom Flameguard Ultra Acrylic Eggshell.

Shop:

bollom-flameguard-ultra-primer-undercoat  bollom-flameguard-ultra-vinyl-matt  bollom-flameguard-ultra-acrylic-eggshell

An additional and alternative system

2x coats of Thermoguard Wallcoat Smoke and Flame-Retardant Topcoat.

Shop:

thermoguard-wallcoat-smoke-flame-retardant-topcoat

If the flame-retardant topcoat becomes discoloured over time or it reacts to the fire, you can simply clean, prepare the area and re-paint as and when required. If you need any more advice on flame retardant paints and coatings just ask Rawlins Paints!

28 comments

  1. We are moving to a house that has an open fire. The cream hearth is badly discoloured from soot etc. Is there any paint I could you to temporarily disguise this until we fit a new fireplace, or is there a cleaning agent I could use to try and remove it. Thank yiu

  2. Our gas fireplace has a masonry firebox that was painted in a matte black several years ago. The paint is now lifting, cracking and peeling. What do you recommend to repair the backing?

  3. We’ve been in our home for 2yrs now. The prior owner painted the inside of the fireplace white. I have no idea if the paint is fire retardant. I recently had a gas line put into the fireplace and I’m ready to use it for the 1st time. I was wondering if leaving the white paint would be ok or should i take it off and replace with fire retardant paint. Or maybe I can paint over with fire retardant paint. Please let me know what you recommend.

  4. Hi

    The hearth in our house has got discoloured and I would like to paint it. We have an inset wood/coal burner that sits partly on the hearth. Can you suggest what I might use? So many stone paints seem to be for surrounds rather than for a multi fuel burner.

    • Hi Sylvia,

      The above information in this blog post is applicable to any area surrounding a multi fuel burner, whether its walls, ceiling or floors (hearths included).

      Best regards.

      Mark

  5. Hi, we have a working coal fire set in a reproduction victorian cast iron, with tiles up the sides surrounded by a wooden mantel and it all sits on a big brown shiny tiled repro hearth. Problem is, I want to modernise it with minimum cost and disruption. What can I use to paint the hearth? without risk of it peeling, scratching and discolouring ? Same for the Mantel? Looking forward to your reply Thankyou

  6. Hi, we are having a multi fuel stove fitted in a corner of our bungalow. They are putting fire board on the walls around the stove that’s white/cream in colour. They have said we can paint it to fit in with the decor. Which paint do you recommend please?
    Kind regards

    • Good morning Ian,

      The full range of recommendations and coating applicable to surfaces around a multi-fuel stove are listed at the end of the article above. Full technical support is available with each product on our sales email/phone number – available in the header of the main store – https://www.rawlinspaints.com

      Click to view any product above and its full colour range is there, along with more in depth product descriptions and data-sheets.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  7. Good Day, we have a wooden fire surround in a dark colour wood finish, would like to change this colour to a silver finish but it does get hot when gas fire is on so would like to paint it in a heat resistant finish can you recommend which product to use please

    • Good morning Eric,

      Heat resistant paints (available HERE in black or silver) are primarily designed for metal surfaces. If your timber surround is getting hot then this could be a potential fire hazard and heat resistant paints don’t prevent the underlying surfaces they are applied to from getting hot. As you’ll see from the article above, we suggest a flame retardant topcoat is used to decorate fire surrounds but these are not available in silver and would rely on the surface not getting above a certain temperature.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  8. Hi,
    Hopefully you can help..
    We have a log fire in our living room..we have only used it a handful of times. We never used to have any problems with it until we painted the wall around it with a mould resistant paint as we was getting a bubbling yellow mould type thing on the walls around it. Ever since we done this, when lighting the fire and once it gets hot it gives off a very strong plastic burning smell…could this be caused by the mould resistant paint we used? Also, could this be the reason for the yellow bubbling on the walls?
    I love using the fire but the smell is rather strong so can’t use it.
    Thank you
    Laura

    • Good morning Laura,

      Yes the smell most likely is the paint. From what you have said the fire has not been installed correctly in the space it is in and is getting the surrounding walls and surfaces too hot, this is also the most likely cause of the yellow blistering of your first paint (not mould). The fire is heating up the painted surfaces and causing them to discolour (yellowing) and then getting so hot the paint is blistering. The new paint you’ve used is obviously suffering from the same but the smell most likely will be because the paint is newer and being mould resistant probably has some additional contents to combat mould that may be giving off the smell under extreme heat.

      Not a good situation and you would be advised to not use the fire again until all paint has been removed back down to a bare substrate. We would then suggest getting a professional local installer out to check the installation of your fire and its surrounding to advise on a steps that need to be taken to make it safe to use again.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  9. I have a bio-ethanol fireplace that sits inside a large letterbox cavity in a converted brick chimney. The interior is built from fire-resistant cement board with marble tiles on the back, but we have used fire-resistant plaster from VITCAS on either side. The heat-resistant paint I have used so far seems to be absorbed into the plaster leaving a disappointing finish. Can you recommend a primer suitable to be painted onto the fire-resistant plaster that can then be painted over afterwards with heat-resistant paint?

  10. Hello. Which of your paints would you recommend painting onto heat-resistant plaster for use with a bio-ethanol firebox? Would Blackfriar High-Heat Resistant Paint be sufficient for the bare heat-resistant plaster?

    • Good afternoon Daniel,

      In response to both of your questions, if we understand the enquiry correctly, it is the plaster not facing the stove which needs to be painted. The most suitable paint for this sort of situation depends on the temperature the plaster will get up to during use. If you can touch the plaster safely without burning yourself then the Blackfriar High Heat Resistant Paint would not cure as it needs to get up to 250°C to fully harden. If the plaster gets quite warm but you can still touch it then Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 RAL 7042 Traffic Grey can be used to prime and seal the surface followed by 2 coats of a durable satin black water based finish such as Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin in Black.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  11. Is there any paint that can be used to withstand occasional use of a fire pit?

    • Margaret,

      Rust-Oleum Heat Resistant Paint 750°C would be our best recommendation for this, it isn’t guaranteed to work as we have no prior experience of it being used in this way but from the information we know about it we feel it would have a good chance of working with occasional use.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  12. Hi , I’ve got a log burner that sits in stone and is flush with the wall ( not in the wall) will these paints be okay to paint all the stone surroundings with the log burner ? The burner can get up to 550 degrees.

    Look forward to hearing from you
    Joy

    • Good morning Joy,

      You will have to use one of the heat resistant paints for this sort of temperature, something like Blackfriar High-Heat Resistant Paint should be OK to use but we would recommend testing a small area first to ensure you are happy with the appearance.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  13. Hi. We had a 70s style tiled surround and hearth to our fireplace and we have had the hearth removed, slate laid and a woodstove fitted. The original tile surround is still in place and the stove sits in front of it. We’d like to paint it to match the slate we have. Can you recommend a paint for this?

  14. Hi, can I apply the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 directly to brick. I have just opened up an old fireplace and put in a burner. The bricks inside the hearth are very sooty and so I want to paint them but was told I would have to first apply an inhibitor to stop staining coming through. Thanks,
    Hazel

    • Good morning Hazel,

      Please note that the following advice is based upon the assumption that the surfaces the following products may be applied to will not be subject to high temperatures:

      Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 won’t block soot and residues from fires, Zinsser B-I-N is the one to use. Remove as much loose soot as possible by brushing using a stiff/wire brush and vacuum up the dust, then apply 2 coats of Zinsser B-I-N. Note It is advisable not to wash the surface as you will then have to wait for any dampness to completely dry out before applying the Zinsser B-I-N. If Zinsser B-I-N is applied to a damp surface you can get staining coming through the primer.

      Please let us know how you get on, Hazel, and if there’s anything else we can help you with, don’t hesitate to contact us.

      Best regards.

      Mark

      • Many thanks for the quick reply and advice Mark. The surface I need to apply it to is the walls of the chimney and although not in contact with the wood burner stove will be quite close to it so I would imagine get quite hot. Would it still be okay to use Zinsser B? Thanks, Hazel.

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