How to Paint a Concrete Fireplace Hearth to Look Like Stone

If the fireplace hearth in your home is made of grey concrete that doesn’t coordinate with the room’s color scheme, did you know you can paint it? You can paint anything when you know the right way to do it.

Concrete fireplace hearths are easy to paint so they look like natural stone. Follow this easy hearth painting tutorial that will make the fireplace look amazing, coordinate with your decor and last for years.

Even if you don’t have a fireplace in your home, the paint process I used can be used to paint any surface in your home to look like natural stone.

I painted my red brick fireplace white, and a year later, I found new decorating inspiration and transformed the face of the fireplace to look like masonry using a faux stone product called AirStone.

I liked the way the stone fireplace makeover turned out so much that when I moved to a new house, I used AirStone again to create a stone fireplace with a white painted mantel.

Painted fireplace surround.

After painting the fireplace, I didn’t like the grey concrete hearth. The color looked off with the furnishings in the room. I also didn’t like the raw and unfinished edge of the concrete.

Painted Stone Fireplace Hearth

So I painted the grey concrete hearth in front of the fireplace using a faux stone paint technique.

With the help of some craft paint, sealer and AirStone, I was able to make the hearth look like it perfectly belongs with the new stone fireplace surround.

Fireplace Hearth Before Painting

Above is the rough grey concrete hearth slab with unfinished sides. The dark streaks are just water that has not dried.

Once I added the AirStone in the color Autumn Mountain to the fireplace, I went to work to get the fireplace stones and the hearth to be in the same color family.

AFTER: Faux Stone Painted Fireplace Hearth

How to Paint a Fireplace Hearth

supplies needed:

  • Latex paint – I used acrylic craft paint in the colors: Beige, Grey, Brown, Yellow Ochre.  Actual paint colors: Martha Stewart – Wet Cement, Apple Barrel Beachcomber Beige, Folk Art Yellow Ochre, Folk Art Butter Pecan, Apple Barrel Nutmeg Brown, Folk Art Linen
  • Paint Glazing Liquid – I used Martha Stewart Crafts Glaze, but any glazing liquid will work.  Valspar and Ralph Lauren each make one
  • AirStone
  • AirStone Adhesive
  • Moldling: 3/8″ x 1-1/4″ Painted Stop
  • Hack Saw
  • Miter Box
  • Pencil
  • Sea Sponge
  • Paper plate to mix paint on
  • Polycrylic Clear Water Based Sealer in a Matte Finish
  • Wet or Damp Rag
  • 1/8” or small tipped paint brush
  • Drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Optional: Grey primer

Do You Need Special Paint for Fireplace Hearth?

When creating the faux stone finish on the concrete, I did not use special paint. I chose the paint colors to coordinate with my decor.

Depending on your color choices, you can use fireplace paint, acrylic, exterior or interior latex paint that is rated to withstand temperatures created from the fireplace. I used craft paint. These paints are only appropriate for the of a fireplace surround and hearth, not the interior firebox.

Once the paint was dry, I sealed it with a matte sealer. You do not want to use satin, semi-gloss or gloss sealer as it will dry shiny and will not look like natural stone.

Do You Need a Primer When Painting a Concrete Fireplace Hearth?

I did not use a primer when painting the hearth since the concrete was rough and porous, but if your concrete is smooth, shiny or has a sealer on it, you should use a grey tinted primer first. This can be purchased ready-made at the paint store.

To apply primer: Sand the surface with 100 grit sandpaper, clean the sanding debris. Roll or brush on one light coat of primer, let dry.

How to Paint a Concrete Hearth to Look Like Stone

The painting process is simply applying thin layers of the paint mix with a sea sponge and letting each layer dry. You will not need a paint roller or brush.

The sponging-on of paint will give the surface the mottled look of stone. In fact the more random the dabbed layers of paint are applied, the more realistic the painted look will look like real stone.

Time needed: 4 hours.

Step-by Step tutorial for Painting a Concrete Fireplace Hearth

  1. Clean Concrete Surface

    Using a scrub brush and TSP or dish soap, remove all dust, dirt, soot and grime from the surface.

  2. Place Paints on Plate to Mix

    Place a dollop of paint from each color of craft paint onto a plate. In the middle, add about 1/8 of a cup of glazing liquid.

    The ratio of the colors should be even, but if you would like to see more of one color, add more of that color to the plate.

  3. Dap Paint Onto Surface

    Dip a wet and then rung-out sea sponge into the paint a few times to mix the colors just a bit – not too much as you want to have color variations.

    Start dabbing the sponge onto the surface to create a thin layer of paint. Turn the sponge all different ways as you work.

    Doing this will vary the pattern of the sponge from repeating in a line which will not look like real stone.

  4. Continue Dabbing Paint

    Keep dipping the sponge in your paint and continue dabbing the surface to mottle it with paint. Do not add too much paint. It is better to dab on thin coats and letting them dry. If you apply a coat too thick it may end up peeling off over time.

    Note Below: You can see the stone color with which I was trying to coordinate the hearth color.

  5. Add More Layers

    Let dry. Add a few more layers of paint following the same dabbing technique using the paint and glaze mixture until you are happy with how it looks.

    Dab the paint on an angle, not in straight lines and make sure to get into all the crevices – it will look more natural.

    If there is one spot where the paint looks too heavy, dab a damp rag over the surface to remove some of the paint.

  6. Apply Sealer

    Once you like how the painted finish looks, Let dry for at least 4 – 6 hours.

    Next apply 2 coats of matte water-based sealer to protect it. Let the first coat dry before applying the next.

How to Add AirStone to the Side of the Painted Hearth

The height of the AirStone was about 1/4” too short to match the height around the raw edge of the hearth.

To solve the problem, I added white trim molding around the hearth to lift up the AirStone so the top of the AirStone would be the same height as the hearth.

I wanted to nail the trim molding to the floor, but the wood floor is not thick and is directly on concrete, so I decided to use Liquid Nails to attach the trim molding to the floor. Once that was secure, I added the stones using the AirStone adhesive.

1.  Figure out how many stones you will need to cover the edge of the hearth and line them up. Cut any if necessary to fit.

I used two corner pieces, the rest of the stones were the flat edge type.

Apply the adhesive to the back and press into the side of the hearth, letting the adhesive ooze out of the top. Use a wet rag and your finger to clean the adhesive off the painted hearth.

Repeat on all the other stones and let dry.

Helpful Tip:

If using AirStone around the hearth, you can add the stones before painting the concrete hearth.

The AirStone adhesive is white. When it was dry, I went around with a thin tipped paint brush using cement colored paint to make the adhesive look a bit more like mortar.

All done. A new stone fireplace surround and painted hearth. Now the fireplace transformation is complete and I am one very happy DIYer.

To hide the firebox, I made a fireplace screen using an old window sash.

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