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How to Paint a Marble Fireplace Surround with Chalk Paint

Can you paint a marble fireplace surround? Get step-by-step instructions for how to paint marble and update your fireplace surround. This budget-friendly $25 fireplace update can be done in less than a weekend.

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.

But.

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!

Can You Paint Marble?

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.

I began to wonder, can you paint a marble fireplace?

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.

Before you read any further, click here to see how this project looks after two years of wear and tear.

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.

The Best Paint for Marble

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 the best fireplace paint for marble was Rustoleum’s Chalked Paint.

Unlike Annie Sloan’s paint, the Rustoleum paint has a protective topcoat to seal the painted marble.

I thought having a protective topcoat would be extra important for the marble fireplace hearth.

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 fireplace surround would give a neutral palette that would work for any decor.

Rustoleum has a nice variety of color options if you prefer something different.

How to Paint Marble

1. Do You Need to Prepare Marble Before Painting?

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 when painting marble

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 dust I may have missed.

2. Tape the 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

3. Paint the Marble Surround

Rustoleum’s 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.

Y’all?

I was so nervous!

But as soon as I painted the first little part of the marble, I was in love!

It looked so good!

I started with the top section and did short horizontal strokes to cover the surface.

Then I 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 painting the marble hearth.

I could not believe what a difference it made!

Buh-bye, cream marble, helllllooooo black beauty!

Marble fireplace surround painted black with chalk paint

4. Do You Need Two Coats of Chalked 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?!?

As soon as I finished the second coat of paint I removed the tape.

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.

5. Do You Need to Seal Chalk Paint?

I definitely recommend sealing the chalk-painted surface!

Chalk paint chips easily when it hasn’t been sealed for protection.

I let the second coat of chalk paint cure overnight before applying the first coat of sealer, but it should be safe to apply it after 4 hours.

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 newly painted marble fireplace surround 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!

Before/After

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 fireplace, I’m happy to report that chalk painting your marble or tile fireplace 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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Jessica

Sunday 1st of May 2022

Love the look! Wanting to do this to mine. Wondering how it holds up ? My one concerns is that the heat from the fireplace may impact the paint or may cause it to bubble.

AnnMarie

Monday 2nd of May 2022

Hi Jessica - Anne's fireplace has had no problems at all with the paint bubbling. Check out this post to see how it's holding up after 2 years: https://simply2moms.com/painted-marble-fireplace-surround-two-years-later/ Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Carly

Sunday 20th of February 2022

Did your top seal look streaky in between coats? It looks shiny in some spots and all streaky from the first coat of the seal.

AnnMarie

Monday 21st of February 2022

Hi Carly - If you look super close at Anne's fireplace surround it does look a little bit streaky in some lights. But honestly it doesn't bother her and look soooo much better than the gold! I know I tend to focus so much on the details as I'm working on a project but when its finished and I step back I don't even notice the imperfections I was concentrating on during the process. Hope you love your fireplace makeover when it's finished!

Jennifer Frazier

Sunday 16th of January 2022

So we did this process to the marble on my fireplace yesterday. I LOVE the way it looks!!! Today we are sealing it though and it appears the paint is coming off with the sealer, is that normal? Can we go back and paint over the sealer?

Anne

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Hey Jennifer! I'm so glad you're happy with how the paint is looking! Did you sand the marble before painting it? I didn't have any issues with the paint coming off when I applied the sealer so I'm not 100% sure of the answer. I don't see why you can't paint over the sealer, but I would probably sand it a bit first to rough it up, then vacuum and wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove any dust. Let me know how it works so I can share with anyone else who might have a similar issue?

Mary Favata

Saturday 15th of January 2022

Did you full in the gaps before painting? They are noticeable in the before picture but not in the after picture when it's painted black.

Anne

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Hi Mary! Thanks so much for reaching out! I did not fill in the spaces between the pieces of marble before painting. I did caulk the edges of the marble after painting around the wood mantelpiece. You can definitely still see the edges of the marble slabs, but they don't seem as noticeable now that it's painted. This post includes some closeup pictures where you can see the surround and the edges a little better: https://simply2moms.com/painted-marble-fireplace-surround-two-years-later/ I hope that helps!

Tammy

Sunday 28th of November 2021

Thank you …. I’ve been wanting to paint ours as well!!!!

AnnMarie

Sunday 28th of November 2021

Yay...go for it! We'd love to see pictures of your finished fireplace.