Learn how to give a stone fireplace a whitewashed look without diluting the paint and still get the same effect, and find out why we chose this method instead of traditional whitewashing.
Last week I wrote a post on how I cleaned our 1970s stone fireplace in preparation for whitewashing. I had originally planned on doing a 70% water 30% paint method to lighten the stone. But when whitewashing day finally came and stone was completely dry from cleaning, we quickly realized that we needed to change course.
Why Whitewashing Didn’t Work
The stones were already various shades of gray, and even the brownish stones had a gray undertone. The mortar all around the stones was also gray. So when we applied the 70/30 whitewash mix, our test stone just looked like a lighter gray. We upped the ratio to 50/50, and it was straight-up blue. Yikes!
We tried one final ratio of 80% paint and 20% water, and yep, still gray. We were about to throw in the towel (literally) and just break out the paint sprayer and blast it with Sherwin Williams Alabaster and lose all the texture altogether. But then we had an idea. What if we treated it like a wood stain?
Our Faux Whitewash Hack
We painted a whole stone with 100% paint, used a dry painter’s rag to wipe off the excess, and dabbed the rag around to even out any obvious smears. It worked! It looked exactly like the whitewash technique we had been trying to achieve, and was way easier and a lot less messy.
To make sure the stones looked as natural as possible, we made some of them more white than others, and even varied the thickness of paint on the mortar. Some stones have more gray peeking through, and others look more white. But there’s still so much texture and grooves and shadows happening that give the fireplace a ton of character and movement.
PS: You can watch the whole process in this Instagram Story Highlight!
It Turned Out Exactly How We Wanted It To Be
It doesn’t look like it’s been painted by flat paint, and it still looks very natural. Like someone found a bunch of white sun-faded rocks from some exotic place and carefully stacked them into a fireplace shape. Which is one thing I should mention, too…
The previous owners of the house were the only owners other than us. And it’s clear that they either built the house themselves or were a big help in the construction. Everything in this house was clearly done with care and intention, and it’s obvious that each stone was specifically chosen and spaced out. It was built with love and made to last forever. We can definitely tell that.
Next Step Of The Living-Dining Remodel
So what’s next for the room remodel now that the fireplace is done? We are going to paint the ceiling and beams, along with the interior doors in the living-dining area. Once those two projects are knocked out, I can finally start styling the space. I have the rug of my dreams in the garage just waiting for its debut, and the most gorgeous Art Deco chandelier in a box behind the sofa that I can’t wait to show you. More on all that soon!
Love the fireplace update!
Brad Gandy says
We’re so glad you love it, and it’s still holding up well.
Hannah Crawford says
Exactly what I need for mine!!! Love it. What specific type of paint did you use? Exterior, interior, latex, chalk, etc?
Lela Burris says
Hi! I used exterior masonry latex paint.
Iris Jones says
So nice, what color exterior masonry latex paint did you use
Brad Gandy says
Thank you, Iris! We used Sherwin-Williams Alabaster. If you’re looking to copy, please keep in mind that we only used the exterior masonry latex paint because our fireplace is non-functional. If yours works, ask the experts at your paint counter what they recommend.