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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!

2 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

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