Exposing and Whitewashing a Brick Chimney
During the time when our house was a complete mess and we weren’t able to use our kitchen or living room I decided why not make even more of a mess because really at that point why not? Haha! I decided I’d expose the plaster covered chimney in the living room and then whitewash it.
Exposing the Brick
I went into this project being totally unsure what I’d actually find under the plaster. But since I’d already done some plaster work I figured if it goes south for any reason I’d just patch it back up. You’ll notice the refrigerator which was still parked in the living room at this time 😛
Removing the Plaster
I laid a drop cloth down to catch the debris and then shimmied up the ladder with my hammer and crowbar. I started tapping the plaster in a small area until it cracked and I could chip it away to see what was beneath. Once I was satisfied with what I saw under there I went to town. The best way to get really big chunks to come off was to hammer my crowbar in behind the plaster as far as I could and then pull against it back towards myself. This caused it to come off in chunks that were usually bigger than my hand. It was literally no time before the entire front was off.
*Side Note – Don’t forget to wear a ventilator mask, protective eye wear, and gloves. There’s definitely dust and debris.
The sides were a bit more tricky and I had to be more specific or delicate with my tools as I worked, but it still came down relatively fast. I’d say removing the plaster on the entire chimney from start to finish took about an hour and a half. It did make a fairly good mess. It still amazes me just how much plaster weighs!
The only issue that slowed me down during the removal process was the metal brackets that ran up the corners of the brick. They were nailed to the brick, so I again used the crowbar and hammer to get them to come off above the baseboard trim. Once the top part was loose I was able pry them out.
Whitewashing the Chimney
I figured not only would the exposed brick provide an awesome source of texture and interest in the room, but also tie in with the white washed backsplash I had done in the kitchen. You know texture makes me all googly eyed lol! I brushed the chimney with a broom and then wiped it down with a damp cloth. Then I followed the same steps as I had in the kitchen using a paper towel to dab on and off white paint mixed with a bit of water. Here’s the link to that article DIY White Washed Brick and Beadboard Backsplash 🙂
Plastering the Sides
You’ll notice that even though I was as careful as I could be, some of the plaster on the walls next to the chimney was broken off. I considered running trim up the sides of the chimney to hide this but decided it would look more authentic to the house if the plaster met right up to the chimney. Using a small trowel I plastered the sided of the chimney and then blotted it with a paper towel to mimic the texture of our walls. Once the plaster was dry I painted it with my favorite treat-it-as-a-neutral blue 😉
Baseboard Trim Challenge
The biggest challenge with this project was the baseboard trim. Because I had removed the plaster the trim now sat about an inch away from the chimney. The problem was that if I removed the baseboard trim, cut the sides shorter and reattached it some unfinished flooring would show as well as a hole in the floor that was behind the baseboard. Plus there would still be a gap on the sides of the chimney. If I recut all the baseboards that would be affected we’d still have the flooring issue. So this was one of those times when we took awhile to decide how best to make it look right even if it wasn’t perfect.
Painter’s Caulk Saves the Day Again!
We removed the baseboard trim and then I had Ed cut both of the side pieces so that it would fit close but not tightly against the chimney. Then we decided to use wider quarter round on the front side of the chimney. It would leave the baseboard trim sticking out enough that the flooring problem was solved.
The next issue was the gaps between the trim and the chimney. For this I turned to my good friend Painter’s Caulk 😀 First, I wedged as many wood shims into the gaps as I could fit. Then, layer by layer I filled the spaces around them with painter’s caulk, letting it dry between each layer. When I got to the top layer I simply used my finger to get it as even and natural looking as possible. 🙂 I know you’re probably thinking this seems crazy, but it worked like a charm! Once it was all given a fresh coat of white it looked great!
* If you haven’t read my article on the wonders of painter’s caulk you’re missing out! It’s right here Caulking Trim for a Seamless Look
I’m happy that amidst our construction zone house I decided to throw in one more project haha! The exposed whitewashed brick chimney is now one of my favorite parts of the house where before you hardly noticed it. It adds such an interesting architectural element to the living room, but at the same time it feels completely authentic there too. Brick adds such an awesome texture to the space as well as tying it into the kitchen’s backsplash.
When I was exposing it I remember thinking how special it was to be seeing and touching a part of that house that no one had in almost 100 years. Moments like that aren’t lost on me and they make me appreciate our old home that much more. However old or new your house it I hope you are able to appreciate it too 🙂
Thanks for stopping by our little blog!
I love it!…You do such nice, neat work!
Amanda & Ed
Thanks so much! It’s amazing how much it changed the room!