This budget-friendly $25 fireplace update can be done in less than a weekend. Get step-by-step instructions and tips to paint a marble fireplace surround using chalk paint, including which brand holds up to the heat.

When my family purchased our home in 2005, there weren’t a lot of options for customizing our gas fireplace.

So we went neutral.

Or at least, 2005 kinda neutral.

We chose a cream marble surround. It worked perfectly with the warm colors that were popular that decade.


When we painted our downstairs with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter? That neutral cream surround didn’t feel quite so neutral anymore.

Standard builder-grade gas fireplace with white painted wood mantel and cream marble fireplace surround.

My husband and I debated lots of options to update the fireplace.

Everything from covering over the marble with ceramic tile to removing the marble completely and doing a stone surround.

But every option we liked would cost more than we wanted (or had available!) to spend.

We started upgrading the fireplace by beefing up the mantel. It was never really deep enough, and it looked sort of chintzy.

That new $20 mantel helped make it look more substantial!

Next step? Change up the surround.

Paint is a powerful tool. Have you seen how AnnMarie updated her 1990s bedroom set? And I loved how paint gave my hall bath and her master bath a brand new look. Maybe paint could do the trick?

Enter chalk paint.

I started looking into whether it would be an option. It would only cost us about $25 in supplies, counting tape and a new paintbrush!

It would be easy enough that we could do it ourselves.

And if we didn’t like it? We’d only be out $25.

Standard builder-grade gas fireplace with white painted wood mantel and black paper taped onto the marble  fireplace surround.

Before making the decision to paint the surround, I tested out how it would look.

A little black card stock and some tape were all it took to help us visualize the black surround.

How to Paint a Marble Fireplace Surround

Have you ever worked with chalk paint? This stuff is some kind of wonderful, miracle-working paint!

It was developed by Annie Sloan for furniture refinishing and distressing.

It’s very thick, has a matte finish, and it adheres to just about anything. Without any prep or primer.

After doing some research on different brands, I decided to use Rustoleum’s Chalked Paint. The Rustoleum paint allows you to seal it with a protective top coat. It also can withstand the heat from a fireplace. ?

Can of Rustoleum Chalked paint and can of Rustoleum Chalked protective topcoat sitting next to each other in front of a marble fireplace surround

I selected their Charcoal color because I knew a black surround would give a neutral palette that would work for any decor. They have a nice variety of color options if you prefer something different.

Supplies to Paint Your Fireplace Surround:

Step 1: Prepare the marble

One of the best parts of chalky paints is they adhere really well to just about any surface. Primer is never necessary! And while sanding is generally not required with chalky paints it will improve adhesion.

cream marble fireplace hearth with glossy sheen

As you can see, the marble was polished to a high gloss. It was really simple to rough up the surface with 100 grit sand paper.

cream marble fireplace hearth that has been sanded to remove the glossy sheen

See the difference?

I used a wet sponge to clean up all the marble dust. Then went over it with a tack cloth to remove any extra residue.

Step 2: Tape your Edges

I used Frogtape to protect the wood mantle and the carpet. And then a drop cloth for the carpet too. I’m not the neatest of painters… ?

Cream colored marble fireplace surround and hearth with can of black chalk paint with a drop cloth in front and painters tape on edges

Step 3: Paint the Marble Surround

The Chalked paint is very thick, and it dries very quickly. You’re going to want to use a stir stick to get the pigment thoroughly mixed into the paint from the bottom of the can. Shaking just doesn’t do the trick since it’s so thick.

Marble fireplace surround and hearth painted black with chalk paint with a drop cloth in front and painters tape on edges

Because it dries quickly, you do need to work quickly. It does have some self-leveling qualities, but it really does dry fast!

I didn’t mind if some brush strokes were visible. I felt like they could provide some texture to make the surface look somewhat like slate. But if brush strokes will bother you, you can use a foam roller instead.



But as soon as I painted the first little part of the marble surround, I was in LOVE! It looked SO GOOD!

I started with the top section and did short horizontal strokes to cover the surface. Then ran the paintbrush lightly over the surface from one end to the next to make the strokes look even.

Next, I painted the two side sections with vertical strokes using the same technique.

I finished with the marble on the floor. I could NOT believe what a difference it made! Buh-bye, cream marble, helllllooooo black beauty! ?

Marble fireplace surround painted black with chalk paint

After the first coat, you can see there were some spots that needed a bit more coverage.

I let it cure for an hour, then added a second coat.

It probably wasn’t necessary to wait that long because have I mentioned this paint dries SUPER QUICKLY?!?

I removed the tape right after I finished the second coat.

I didn’t want to risk the paint possibly peeling!

If you don’t remove the tape immediately, you may want to use a razor blade along the edge to make sure it doesn’t pull off any of the paint.

Step 4: Seal the Chalked Paint

Before you seal the surround, clean the surface well. You don’t want any stray hairs, dust or lint getting sealed in!

Next, make sure you stir the topcoat sealer well. I was amazed at how much the consistency changed from stirring it! I applied the sealer using the same process that I used for the paint.

what matte finish sealer looks like when first painted on chalk paint fireplace surround

The sealer isn’t nearly as thick as the chalked paint. It goes on looking gray, but it dries to a completely clear matte finish.

I applied three coats of the sealer, letting it dry for a full day between each coat. I wanted to make sure my beautiful new surface was well-protected!

And that’s it!

close up view of fireplace surround that has been painted with chalk paint with an iron scrollwork folding fireplace screen in front

I only used about 1/4 of a can of the paint and 1/4 of a can of the sealer for this project, which means I’ve got a beautiful new fireplace surround for less than $15!


Everyone loves a good before and after, so let’s take a look back at where we started before upgrading the mantel and painting the marble surround:

before and after comparison photos of fireplace with painted marble surround

And here it is with a close-up split view. What a difference!

before and after comparison photos of fireplace with painted marble surround

If you have an outdated marble surround on your fireplace, this technique is an inexpensive and simple option to give it a face-lift.

What do you think? Will you give it a try?

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment! Follow us over on Instagram and Facebook to see everything we’re up to.

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36 Comments on How to Upgrade a Dated Marble Fireplace with Chalk Paint

  1. Can I use the foam roller with the top coat as the 1st coat I used a paint brush and I don’t like the brush marks. I really liked the matte finish of the chalk paint. I wish I had not did the top coat.
    It does look 100 times better than the green marble!!!

    • Hey Judy! You should definitely be able to use the foam roller for your top coat! Maybe give it a light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any brush strokes, wipe away any dust and let it dry, and then do the top coat with the foam roller. Be sure to just do a thin layer. I’m so glad it worked for you! I love mine so much. 🙂

      • Hi John! The white mantel is Benjamin Moore Advanced Simply White in a semi-gloss finish. I like the Advanced paint for anything that will have things sitting on top because it cures really hard and doesn’t get scuffed or chipped as easily as other paints I’ve used. The surround is Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal.

  2. Looks beautiful! Our fireplace surround looks exactly like yours before Your makeover. You’ve inspired me and given me hope. How well does the paint hold up to heat? We use our gas fireplace all winter.

    • Thank you! I was so nervous to try it but figured it would be an inexpensive option to try first before making a pricier fix. I did research beforehand and the Chalked brand by Rustoleum is supposed to hold up to the heat. We use our fireplace a lot at my house during the winter months and the finish hasn’t shown any signs of being affected so far! We used it for about 1.5 months nearly every day after doing the paint job. Hope that helps!

  3. I painted our fireplace this weekend after finding your pin. I am so happy how it has turned out. I agree that it does look like slate now. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My fireplace looks exactly the way yours used to look and I want to paint mine as well! Is the Charcoal color black or does it have a slate gray look to it? Thank you!

    • Hey Brittney! I would consider the charcoal to be black, although when the sun is shining directly on it through my front door, it can read a little more very dark gray. It is seriously the best project I’ve done in my home this year! I’m so excited to share Christmas pictures with it looking this way. If you go to our Instagram account (@simply2moms), you can see some more photos of how it looks now. Hope that helps!!

  5. It looks fabulous. I would like to do a kind of translucent gold wash or glaze over my marble surround. Do you know of any product I could use to do that? I’d like something more like a stain or glaze so the marble shows through but I can change the color.

    • Thanks so much, Sheryl! From what I understand, you can water down chalk paint and wipe it off for a more translucent look. That technique allows the wood grain to show through, so it sounds like it may work to let the marble pattern show too? But I’d recommend trying it on a sample tile first before doing it to the fireplace surround. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

  6. For those who have enjoyed your painted marble god sometime now: has it endured over time with no scratches. I have toddler grands that like to move things over my hearth.

  7. We followed your steps and are thrilled with the results. We did sand the tile first and use a cleaner before painting. In our case we painted over gross red porcelain tile.

    • I am so excited to hear you had great results! I’m happy to report too that after a year of use, the paint is holding up beautifully on mine. I use the fireplace all the time, and also have a metal grate that has been scraped on the floor section several times and there are no chips or scratches. Here’s to making our homes suit our styles for a reasonable price!

  8. Hello,

    I followed your steps and love the results! But, as I was applying the top coat, I scratched across the paint with my nail and it chipped. I have to repair it and apply top coat, but I am concerned that it will chip this easily even after the top coat cures. I gave pets, with nails. Any additional suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hi Tanya! I think the problem is that the paint is designed for you to distress it which is why it chipped before the top coat had cured. I’ve had mine done for over a year now, and am happy to report it still looks great with no chips or scratches. I have a metal screen that sits on the floor that the kids (and I!) have knocked over and scraped across the surface. I thought for sure it would show, but it’s held up great! The top coat really does seal and protect it. I would recommend applying several coats for added protection, allowing it to cure for a full day between coats. I’d love to see a before/after pic! You can email it to us if you’d like to share!

  9. Hi thank you for posting your idea. My husband and I have a fireplace exactly like this except it is gas. The marble now looks yelow or off white due to painting the mantle white. The marble on top of the fireplace stone/marble gets really really hot. So hot you cant touch it. Will that still be safe to paint?

    • Hey Kayla! My fireplace is also a gas fireplace. While I know the surround does get hot when it’s on, I’ve never noticed it getting so hot that it can’t be touched, so our fireplace boxes may be different? When I was researching doing this project, the Chalked paint by Rustoleum was listed as being safe to use on fireplace surrounds. It’s been painted for over a year now, and it’s not showing any signs of chipping, scratching or peeling from the heat. However, my husband and I knew that we were going to replace the marble altogether if this fix didn’t work out for us, so it was a safe bet for us to experiment and try it. I hope that helps you with deciding whether you’d like to give it a try?

  10. Painted my marble fireplace surround with 4 coats of charcoal and have only applied 1 coat of matte topcoat (using the same paints you did in this post) Anyway after the first coat of sealant had been applied even after drying it looks splotchy Do you know what happened and how I can fix it? Thanks!

    • Hey Becky! I’m sorry to hear your surround is looking splotchy after applying the sealant. What kind of a brush did you use? I’ve been doing some research about it and it looks like that could be because it dried unevenly? It’s important to work in small sections. If it’s still looking splotchy, I would recommend contacting Rustoleum to see if they have recommendations about what to do. I hope that helps!

    • Hi Cassie, That’s a great question! The brand I used, Rustoleum’s Chalked paint, is a very low odor paint and it also dries in 30 minutes. I did this project in the winter with all the windows closed and never noticed the smell. Hope that helps!

  11. It looks amazing. Where did you purchase the fireplace screen you have? It is exactly what I am looking for to complete my look. Thank you.

  12. Your directions were SPOT ON!!!!!! The finish looks just like slate.

    Even though I pondered tackling this project for the past three months, I knew I loved it after the first stroke of charcoal chalk paint.

    I felt confident following your directions. They were concise and easy to follow, with all the important information pertaining to techniques and products. Could not have done it with YOU!!!! Thank you again!!!

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