• February 13, 2004

Darkening Fireplace Brick

Use 50% boiled linseed oil and 50% mineral spirits to darken faded bricks

How To, ,

The brick on our fireplace was faded out from the paint stripping process and we weren’t sure how to darken it. I posted the question to the knowledgeable folks over at American Bungalow magazine’s online forum.

Fireplace before

Fireplace before

Someone had stained their brick with wood stain to bring back the color. Another poster suggested trying concrete stain. One poster who has orange bricks like ours used a mixture of 50% boiled linseed oil and 50% mineral spirits to bring back the color to his bricks. We decided to try this approach first.

I tested a brick on the side of the fireplace near the bottom. If it didn’t work, this area wouldn’t be all that visible. But, it did work. You can see the difference between the faded brick and the brick treated with boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits.

Applying boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture

Applying boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture

I applied it with a small cotton rag and we let it sit on the brick for about 5 minutes. David followed behind me with a clean cotton rag and wiped any excess off.

The grout really stood out so we went back in and covered the grout as well. It darkened it only slightly but created a more uniform look.

Fireplace after

Fireplace after

Comments { 18 }
  1. Dustin

    Stumbled on your website and just wanted to say that your home has inspired me greatly. my wife and I recently bought our first home, a 1914 craftsman bungalow. We are looking forward to the many project we have in line. thanks for the inspiration.

  2. heather

    Thanks for your message! We love to hear from people. Best of luck with your future restoration projects. We have learned that things generally take twice as long and cost twice as much as we had expected. Please keep in touch and send us some pictures of your new home when you get the time.


  3. SteveG

    Fireplace looks great. I’m glad you posted those pictures on here. Juan came out to give us an estimate and he said we have the same bricks on our fireplace. We’ll have to try it when it is finally stripped.


  4. Ivee


    You and David have done an amazing job on the restoration of your home. I bought a neglected 1914 Craftsman in LA almost 8 months ago and am chin-deep in chemical strippers right now trying to restore my dining and living room. I printed out some of the pictures of your beautiful dining room and have it taped to my wall as inspiration while I slog through weekends and evenings of stripping. Thanks so much for having this great website and best of luck on the rest of your restoration!

  5. heather


    Thanks for your great message! I had to smile at the idea that you are using our house as an inspiration. It is amazing to me just how much the house has changed considering the condition it was in when we first moved in, somehow it looks better in the Before Photos than it really was. I’d love to see some photos of your living and dining rooms after they are finished. Please keep in touch!

    Wishing you the best of luck with your project.

  6. Heather M


    Thanks for the tips. I am SOOO impressed you guys find time to share the tips with all of the awesome work you are doing on the place.

    My husband and I are just about to start removing the paint from our fireplace and are considering using peel away 7. Is this what you used ? Did it cause the brick color to fade?

    Some neighbors told us about peel away 7 and their fireplace looks just like yours did with the faded bricks. Everything (including the mortar) is the same color.. a pale orange yellow.

    We also read an article from american bungalow about using a lye / cornstarch / water solution to remove the paint but this seemed a lot more dangerous than the peel away 7 so we thought we would try it first.

    Can you tell me a little more about the ratios and recipe for the boiled linseed / mnineral spirits dye?

    Thanks so much and once again GREAT JOB!!

    Heather M
    Davis, CA

  7. heather

    Hi! Thanks.

    We did NOT use Peel Away 7 on our fireplace. The fireplace was one of our first projects and we used an off the shelf stripper from Home Depot and an extra long razor blade to remove the paint. But, everyone else that we know in our neighborhood used Peel Away 7 and seemed very happy with their results. I think a standard stripper worked so well for us because our bricks are completely smooth, on a textured brick it would have been a nightmare.

    Maybe do a test patch and see what type of bricks you have if you don’t already know. Peel Away is pricy so if you don’t have textured brick you might be able to save a little money and go with a standard chemical stripper.

    We used a 50/50 solution of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits.

    Good luck!

  8. Larry McInnes

    Hi there Heather…

    Does the linseed oil/mineral spirits solution leave the bricks shiny as well as darkened?



  9. heather

    Hi Larry.

    No, our bricks are not shiny at all. The bricks may have been a little shiny until the solution dried but going back and wiping any excess solution off the bricks really cut down on that.

  10. Michael

    Hi there.

    Very nice work!

    What about odour and combustability of the mineral spiirits? Any problems, as i would like to try your linseed Oil/mineral Spiirits method on my fireplace hearth, which has badly faded.



  11. Terri

    Saw a comment on here about staining brick. We have a fireplace that’s about 20 yrs. old and has definitely seen better days. I would love to give it a face-lift without actually painting the brick, which is actually in various shades, like our exterior home brick. I am hoping for something that is translucent enough to let the various shades of the once-beautiful bricks show through, but that would also enhance the overall look. Any suggestions? I am very intrigued by the idea of the linseed oil and mineral spirits – just looking for a variety of ideas to choose from. Thanks from Texas!

  12. Ann

    Hi everyone. You can actually buy brick stain from a company in the UK. I used it to do the exterior of my house which had ugly brown brick. You can mix and match the colors to get just what you want and it’s pretty inexpensive. The website is http://www.dyebrick.com. They ship worldwide, which is good because I didn’t see anything here in the U.S., except companies that want to do it for you (at a premium). Good luck with your projects!

  13. Heather M


    We are about to try this for our fireplace. A local paint store owner who is very knowledgeable about the chemistry or paints, solvents, and everything in between advised us against using this though and said linseed oil can promote mold or mildew growth. How has your fireplace held up a few years later? Any problems with mildew or mold?

    Heather M
    Davis, CA

  14. Heather

    Hi Heather.

    We have had absolutely NO problems of any kind with our fireplace brick. It has held up beautifully over the past 3.5 years since I treated it with the linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture. No mold or mildew. We are very happy with the end results.

    I am thinking about doing another treatment this fall to spruce up our fireplace before Christmas.

    Best of luck!

  15. Chuck Staple

    I happened across your website looking to treat our brick fireplace and give it some glow. The before and after photos are truly stunning. The finished result is something to be really proud of. I hope however buys your home when it’s time to sell appreciates the wood and keeps it as is.

    Again congratulations on the fine work you’ve done.


  16. Chrysse

    We have a 1912 California Bungalow which is covered in layers of paint, but due to our location, it is constructed with old growth redwood so the wood is amazing underneath the paint. It is a work in progress for sure and we are about to tackle the fireplace. It looks like a giant ice cube right now and the brick is textured. I was going to paint it out but after seeing what you have done, we are confident we can strip it and bring it back to life. Thanks a lot!


  17. Christina

    Can you tell me what color you used to paint the walls behind the fireplace? I have the same color brick fireplace and have yet to come up with a color that pops out from the rest and says, ‘this is it”. I am using Benjamin Moore elsewhere in the restoration of my house. They have great colors but I can not find the correct shade to go with the bricks. Thanks for the great pictures.

  18. Heather

    Hi Christina.

    The walls are painted a custom mix of Benjamin Moore’s Wilmington Tan from the historical collection. I had the paint store increase the yellow when they mixed the paint.

    The ceiling is painted Compatible Cream by Sherwin Williams.

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