Some Like It Hot

By Kate Riley October 3, 2009

I’ve received several emails lately inquiring about painting the brass exterior surround of a fireplace.  My response has always been to try a brand of high temperature specialty paint.   I’ve passed this product several times in the paint aisle at Home Depot and Lowes.  Over the summer, I even considered repainting the outside of our old BBQ.  But I have never actually gotten around to trying it out until today.  This morning, I bought a quart of Rustoleum’s High Heat black paint at Lowes for $13 dollars.  This afternoon, I was able to give my two fireplaces a fresher look for very little cost, and without replacing any parts. 

First, I tackled the living room fireplace.  I’ve always loved the existing cream marble tile surround and the white mantle, but the brass trim and wood handles?   No thanks.  It looked very dated in my opinion. I really wanted it to be less brassy.  But replacing the doors was cost prohibitive.  So I tried this specialty paint today, and in about twenty minutes, the fireplace was transformed into something I believe looks much more fresh and modern. 

So long brass trim. 

before and after living room

Here’s another glance from afar.

b and a fireplace

Here’s what I did.

I prepped the surfaces by cleaning the exterior brass trim around the fireplace and taping off the marble tile.  Note that this specialty high temperature paint is oil-based, so clean up requires mineral spirits.  For these kinds of smaller projects, I like to use a disposable brush.  

rustoleum high heat paint

This paint is also available in a spray paint form for those who prefer the quicker application that comes from spray paint, and can access a well ventilated area.  The brush application just happened to work better for my situation. 

The paint is a more watery than regular latex paint, but goes on pretty smooth.

paint brass 

The final product:

lr fireplace after

Next, I gave the master bedroom gas fireplace a fresh coat of black paint.  Over the years, it has suffered some scratches, wear and tear.  A quick coat of this specialty paint, and it was good as new ! 


master fp before


master fp after 

master fp full pic

Rustoleum’s High Heat paint is available at Lowes and Home Depot, and comes in several colors, like white, silver, and almond.  The High Heat Ultra also comes black, brown, and aged copper.  Krylon also has a line of high temperature paints as well.  These paints withstand temperatures up to 1200º F, but they are not designed to be used anywhere that comes in direct contact with flames, so they would not be appropriate for the inside of a fireplace or a BBQ grill.  For $13 dollars, this was an inexpensive fix for me, and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. 

Now just for fun, take a look at the real ‘Some Like It Hot’ featuring the hysterical duo of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dolled up as gals, and mixing it up with Marilyn Monroe.  Here’s just one great clip among many.  

And there’s still time to enter the Stella & Dot giveaway until Sunday October 4th at 8 p.m. PST.  Don’t miss out !


  1. Wow, they look so much better now. I’ve seen the same paint and have been wanting to do mine too, but haven’t had time yet. I promised myself I wouldn’t tackle any big projects till I complete the desk I am re-finishing. Now that I’ve seen yours though, I really want to do mine! :)

  2. Some Like It Hot is one of my favorites. “Just the way I like ’em….big ‘n sassy!” Haha!

    Your fireplaces look fantastic with even that small change – so much cleaner.

    I was given a very scratched up barbecue a few years ago and I bought some of that high heat paint and my brother painted it black with orange flames (he took car painting classes, so that makes sense). It’s done great ever since! And it’s truly one of a kind. ;)

  3. Wow. I did the same project today!! I even used the same paint only in spray form (opened up all the windows even though it was in the 60s outside!). It took me a bit longer because the entire door was brass and I had to tape off each of the four windows. Your fireplace looks great!

  4. Wow, it is amazing that such a small change could have such a big impact. The fireplace in your livingroom looks fantastic. And – you have a gas fireplace in your bedroom? Am I ever jealous.

  5. I used this paint to paint the inside of my firebox. We have gas logs. When we moved in (new construction) the fireplace was a big white blob that always seemed to attract my eye. After twelve years it has held up fine.

  6. I was wondering what you used to clean the fireplace? It looks wonderful as I sit here and look at my very bright brass one : O )



  7. I love how your whole fireplace just blends in now. It has a very neat look to it. I have the spray paint version and I have brass on the doors of our great room fireplace. I’ve been kicking this idea around for awhile now, and since we are hosting the family for our Christmas Eve get-together this year, maybe I should get on that.

  8. I have the EXACT same fireplace screen and Im always looking at that ugly brass trim and giving a big ole *sigh* Now I know what to do with it! thanks!!!

  9. The brass was distracting and, I agree with you, it has a more updated feel now. Great job! Love the way these small changes can make such a big difference. Hope you have a great Sunday!
    pk @ room remix

  10. I used the spray paint version on the brass louvres on my master fp back in august. Unfortunately, it still sheds some black residue when touched. It looks great, but I’m a little concerned with how it will wear. I’m wondering if you’ve had that issue with the brush on paint as well??

  11. i’m not sure that if you know this, but when read in a reader, your post only shows a few sentances. Is there anyway to fix that? i’d love to be able to read the whole post because i’m not able to switch to blog sites at work.

  12. Wow it’s like night and day! I feel like I will sleep better tonight knowing that there is less brass in the world ;-)

  13. That looks awesome! I love the pillow on your chic chair btw!

  14. What a difference, and for so little cost. It looks so much better. We are gradually taking the brass out of our house. We are slowly replacing all the doorknobs with brushed nickel, the light fixtures and vanity pulls are all changed. I was wondering what to do about the brass plate on the front door, this might be the answer as it takes direct sunlight. Great project idea.


  15. Great tips! I wish I had your blog a few years ago when I owned a house. The hardware store in my town was no help so I just left it (the fireplace) alone. Now I’m a renter so I’ll have to use your tips if and when I’m able to buy another house. :)

  16. Thank you so much for this timely post. My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a house with a fireplace that has the brass on all four sides of the surround. Our “to do” list is about 5 years long but at least I know what to do with the unattractive brass when we get some of the more pressing projects out of the way. Hmmm…but perhaps brass will come back in vogue again by then! :)

  17. I’ve been wanting to rip my fireplace out cause I hated the brass – I’m so glad you discovered this! It’s a much easier and cheaper solution than replacing the existing fp – Thanks!

  18. Looks like I will be making a trip to Lowe’s tomorrow…I have the exact fireplace as you and I HATE that brass, but have been nervous to try anything. Thanks for all the info…I can’t wait to ditch the brass as well! Both your fireplaces look fantastic!

  19. Nice job! We did the same thing to our fireplace, but used high-heat spray paint in a matte silver with the black surround. It’s been about 2 years and it still looks great!

  20. I have the exact same fireplace doors. I hate the gold trim, but didn’t want to replace the doors. This is a quick and cheap fix!

  21. its like you read my mind. i have gold trim around my fireplace as well. and was going to just get paint to cover it, but gladly that you mentioned to use the high heat paint. makes sense! thanks for this post! going to go get it tomorrow!

  22. I used a high heat spray paint on my brass fireplace surround and painted mine an off white. Turned out beautifully and has lasted for about 6 years so far with no problems.

  23. A few years ago the car I was driving started to lose its paint on the top and hood, the car already had a few problems that we knew we wouldn’t be able to sell it for very much, so we tried the high heat spray paint to cover the missing paint. I know this sounds very redneck but when it was done you honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the panels we painted and the ones we left alone!

  24. Great job on the fireplace! Just found your blog and decided to follow, love everything! Would love to have you stop by sometime!!


  25. They look great! I didn’t know that product exists…thanks for the info. And, Some like it Hot…classic…love it.

  26. love, love, love this project. i have been wondering how to do this for the past five years. i plan to give it a try today!!!!!!!!!! thanks for all of your inspiration.

  27. I just bought some paint last week to do the same thing to ours! I wish they had more color choices for the high heat paint, but hopefully, it will come out as nice as yours!

  28. This is great. I was wondering the same thing about my old fireplace glass (changing the brass and wooden handles). What did you replace your wooden handles with? I don’t see handles in the picture…unless they’re black on black. Thanks for the post. I’m now inspired to do this today!

  29. Thanks so much for this! I’ll be doing this asap. I’m sick to death of the brass fireplace insert!

  30. Just a thought . . . why aren’t the insides of your fireplaces painted black? Is that a California thing? I live in the Chicago area and we all paint the inside of our fireplaces with a specialty black paint (probably what you are already using) so that you do not see any soot marks from the fire. It all blends in perfectly, in my opinion, and makes it look really clean. The whole inside of the box is spray painted including the floor. In my first house with a fireplace, I forgot to open the flue and nearly passed out from the fumes while painting!!!! Learned my lesson and opened up the flue and every window when I touched up my fireplace in my next house!! Another thing, have you seen any of those new fireplaces that do not use logs, but rather glass rocks that the flames come out of? They are so neat!!! I do not know of anyone who has them though, as of yet. I figured that you may be on the bandwagon all too soon. :)

  31. This is great! I am going to go get the paint today… I have the same question as Brooke…. how did you update the wood/brass handles?

  32. Great posting, it’s so nice to see someone else has my passion to paint just about everything! You can get loads of colors of heat resistant paints at the auto parts store. Car enthusiasts use it to paint their engines. You know that’s got to live up to some wear and tear.

  33. Wow–what a difference a little black paint makes. It’s much better. I am thinking of painting my red brick fireplace front. Some Like it Hot is one of my all time favorite movies!

  34. Someone posted your picture and the link on Pinterest. Painted both of our fireplaces this weekend and they look Amazing! The price of paint has increased to $15 since your original post. It was worth every dime!
    Thanks so much!

  35. Wow. I want to run out to Home Depot right now in my PJ’s. This is great. I even used this in the spray paint for to re-paint my metal firepit. Never thought about re-doing my fireplace. I have the same type!! Looks great! I can’t wait. Doing it! Thanks!

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