How to paint your fireplace surround

fireplace surround

Painting a fireplace has the potential to improve the esthetics of a room dramatically. During the hot, humid summers, homeowners in the Washington DC Metro Area tend not to use their fireplaces.  The lack of use makes the summer the ideal time to paint their fireplaces.  Painting has the affect of giving your fireplace a facelift.  Many of our Washington DC fireplace repair customers paint their fireplace surround after getting their fireplace fixed.  You can find additional ways to beautify your fireplace and hearth here. 

note:  These instructions are for painting the exterior fireplace surround.  You must follow a different process for painting inside the fireplace firebox.

Get the right paint supplies for your fireplace surround

There are some supplies that you will need to paint your fireplace. This includes some safety equipment such as gloves and safety goggles. You should also get such things as:

paint rollerPaint roller

Oil Based Primer

fireplace paint
Indoor Latex Paint

fireplace drop cloth
Drop Cloth

fireplace paint brush
Small Paint Brush

Painters Tape

Step 1: Check out the Surrounding Materials

You want to be sure you paint the right materials around your fireplace. Materials such as limestone, river rock, and sandstone can be painted, but it’s going to be harder to change the color once you go through with it.

It’s best if you have a brick surround.

Step 2: Prepare the Surface

The paint isn’t going to adhere to the surface very well if it’s dirty. This means you need to have some TSP (trisodium phosphate) that doesn’t create suds as well as a wire scrub brush to do some cleaning. Be sure you wear your safety goggles and gloves while you’re doing all of the cleaning.

Clean all of the brick with the wire brush and TSP and then wash with a heavy-duty cleaner. From there, let it all dry before you tape off the areas you want to keep unpainted.

Step 3: Prime Your Brick

It’s important to prime your brick so you don’t experience soot stains on the paint later on. An oil-based primer that is stain blocking should be applied to the entire surface. Follow the instructions on the can to ensure that you are adhering to manufacturer specifications.

You should also have a drop cloth down so that primer doesn’t damage your floors as you work.

Step 4: Start Painting

Allow plenty of time for the primer to dry before you start to paint. You can choose any kind of indoor latex paint – gloss, semigloss, or flat. This is a personal preference, though many people opt for a semigloss or flat. Just be sure that the paint is capable of withstanding temperatures of at least 200°F. If you decide to paint your mantle, you could always choose to go with a glossier version up there.

The roller you choose should be designed for textured surfaces. It will allow you to get into all of the nooks and crannies of the brick. You are only painting the outside of the fireplace. If you want to paint the interior of the firebox, you will need a special heat-resistant paint.

With the right supplies and some patience, you can have a great looking fireplace. Follow the instructions on all of the paints and primers you buy, too, so that there are no safety issues.  Many homeowners touch up the paint on the fireplace every year after their annual chimney sweep.

4 Significant reasons to install a gas fireplace

gas fireplace installation

We recently had a customer in Silver Spring, MD ask us about the benefits of installing a gas fireplace.   There are many benefits to installing a gas fireplace in your home.   If you don’t have a fireplace or a chimney, you may want to consider this option. Gas fireplaces do not require a chimney for installation, and instead, utilize direct-vent technology, meaning a pipe unit runs outdoors through the side of your house. This is a very common option for homes in needing fireplaces in Washington DC.  The lack of a chimney eliminates mortar related chimney repairs.   Those who currently have a masonry wood-burning fireplace may want to consider a gas fireplace.  As a professional company that installs fireplaces, we install gas and wood burning fireplaces.  However, wood-burning fireplaces can be converted to a gas fireplace insert, and they offer many advantages over the latter. 

Compared to wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces have many benefits:

  • Gas fireplaces provide a more efficient and consistent heat supply.
  • They eliminate the hassle of dealing with firewood and smoke.
  • They can reduce your fuel consumption and annual energy bills.
  • They can improve your home’s resale value. 

More Efficient and Consistent Heat Supply:

Gas fireplaces offer a much higher level of efficiency and consistency compared to wood-fueled masonry fireplaces. Since they are thermostatically controlled, you have total control over the degree of warmth they provide. You don’t have to deal with getting your fireplace started and adding logs when the flames are not producing enough heat. Instead, you can enjoy a steady and consistent heat supply. 

Gas Fireplaces are Less Hassle:

Convenience is another advantage to gas fireplaces. After a gas fireplace is installed, you don’t ever have to worry again about dealing with dirty firewood and smoke. There’s no more need to chop, store or haul firewood.   You can also safely maintain your gas fireplace with ease.  Read this article about gas fireplace safety. 

Reduce Fuel Consumption and Yearly Heating Bills:

In addition to involving less hassle, gas fireplaces can also reduce your fuel consumption and annual heating bills. The concept of “zone heating” is useful when it comes to talking about gas fireplaces. Whereas a central heating unit heats your whole home, with a gas fireplace, you can utilize zone heating, meaning you only heat the room when it’s occupied, in turn, reducing your total fuel consumption. 

Here is an example of how zone heating might look like in practice. Typically, once the homeowner has decreased the temperature on the central thermostat, he or she will use their gas fireplace to heat their living room or family room (the areas of the home they are spending a majority of the time). This has the benefit of keeping those rooms warm while decreasing the money devoted to heating other rooms. Also, gas fireplaces are good at heating your home during moderate weather, thus providing an excellent alternative to using central heat during this time, which would be more expensive. According to some studies, you could enjoy energy savings as high as 20 to 40% by heating individual rooms using a gas fireplace and turning off your central heating system. 

Gas Fireplaces Improve Your Home’s Resale Value:

Finally, it’s important to view a gas fireplace as an investment, which can improve the resale value of your home. Gas fireplaces typically pay for themselves, according to Marshall & Swift, which provides the appraisal industry with cost data on residential and commercial properties. According to their appraiser’s handbook, when selling a home, a homeowner can plan to recoup nearly 91% of what it cost to add their direct vent gas fireplace.

Gas fireplaces offer many advantages. This recent fireplace installation is a good example of how a fireplace can beautify your home. They can be installed in homes with or without chimneys.  It’s also possible to convert a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace insert, something a professional fireplace installation company can easily do. For those currently considering a gas fireplace, it is important to remember their many benefits: a consistent heat supply, less hassle, reduction to your energy bills and, finally, an improvement in your home’s resale value. 

Feel free to visit our fireplace installation page to learn more about gas fireplace installation.  You can find info here.

Choosing between Fireplaces vs Fireplace Inserts

 gas fireplace insert

Imagine snuggling up to a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night or hanging stockings across the mantle during the holidays.  A fireplace can add a sense of contentment and style, not to mention warmth and comfort.  Many homes in the Washington DC Metro Area have beautiful fireplaces.  Many homeowners contract with companies like ours for fireplace installation.  Whether they are considering upgrading an existing fireplace or installing a new fireplace in a home that does not have one, many homeowners find themselves choosing between installing fireplaces and installing a fireplace insert.  There are a lot of things to consider when deciding between a fireplace and an insert. 

 Cost and Maintenance Are Important Factors

It is usually more costly to install a fireplace.  However, many people like the look and comfort offered by a traditional fireplace. Traditional fireplaces are usually made of brick or stone and contain a flue and chimney.  While they look beautiful, these open hearths can be costly to install and challenging to maintain. 
If your home does not already have a chimney, building a fireplace will require a major renovation. First, a cavity must be created, then the chimney built and proper ventilation installed. That doesn’t include the indoor structure and mantle, which itself can add thousands onto the project budget. 

The Classic Look of Traditional Fireplaces
traditional open fireplace







Traditional Fireplaces have a classic look that many people find irresistible.  Inserts are more efficient.  However, in some homes, the modern design of fireplace inserts can conflict with the furniture and décor of the home.  We see this often in homes in historic areas in Washington DC such as Georgetown.  A fireplace insert can look modern to the level that they look out of place in the room.

Fireplace Inserts Offer a Good Alternative

What if you already have a traditional fireplace that needs significant repairs, but cannot afford to rebuild it? Consider a fireplace insert. These beautifully designed metal boxes are an excellent way to salvage an already built fireplace, by allowing you to have a similar look and feel of a traditional fireplace with lower installation and maintenance costs.  They also tend to be significantly more energy efficient.

pellet stove insert
Pellet Stove Fireplace Insert

If you want a more traditional look and feel for your fireplace, a pellet insert may be the answer. This allows you to burn pellets in the hearth giving you the look of real flames and even the smell of burning wood.

gas fireplace insert
Gas Fireplace Insert

Those who want a low-maintenance option may want to consider a gas fireplace insert. This gives the look of a real fire without the inconvenience of collecting, storing and carrying wood.  It also eliminates messy cleanup.  Simply flick a switch and flames appear. Turn it off when you are done and walk away.  You can find an article that reviews the benefits of a gas fireplace in further detail here.  You may also want to look at this previously completed project. 

Avantages of Fireplace Inserts

* Low Cost: Costing only a few hundred dollars, inserts are a low-cost way to add style to any room.
* Faster Installation: Can be completed in half the time of rebuilding a fireplace. 
* Stylish:  Modern inserts offer a more trendy look than a traditional fireplace presents.
* Can Be Placed Almost Anywhere:  Inserts can also be installed in smaller spaces since they don’t need the same clearances as their wood-burning counterparts. 

Which fireplace option is best for you?

When considering adding a fireplace to your home ask yourself these important questions:

  • What kind of look am I after?
  • Does my home already have a chimney?
  • What’s the difference in the cost?
  • How much maintenance am I willing to handle?

Fireplaces add comfort and style to any room. Whether you choose an open-air hearth or an insert is simply a matter of taste and cost. Both look beautiful and can give you years of enjoyment.  

5 Favorite Roofers in Ellicott City, MD

roofing in Ellicott City, MD

Our team at All Pro Chimney Service believes in supporting local businesses.  Looking for a roofer in Ellicott City? If so, we’ve got some great recommendations for local, reputable companies that can serve your residential roofing needs. Here are our 5 favorite roofers in Ellicott City, MD.

Dominion Roofing Co.

Dominion Roofing Co. is based in Kensington, but serves Ellicott City and the surrounding areas; with more than 25 years of roofing experience, this Better Business Bureau accredited company has won a number of awards for their service, including the Angie’s List Super Service Award. They can provide a number of common residential roofing services, such as:

  • roofing inspection
  • roofing repair
  • full roof replacement

They also install gutters and siding, making them a great one-stop shop for many of your home’s exterior needs.

DWM Roofing, Inc.

DWM Roofing  ellicott city, Md

DMW Roofing, Inc. sets it’s sites on being Maryland’s premier roofing company, and they pride themselves in being locally owned and operated. They provide a 10-year labor warranty, as well as a 10-year maintenance-free guarantee on new roofing. Homeowners appreciate their honest free estimates.  From roof installation to roofing repair, they do it all. They also offer gutter and skylight services to suit your home’s needs. DMW Roofing is also known for giving back to the community, being proud contributors and participants in such charities and organizations such as:

  • St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital
  • The Special Olympics
  • community 4-H programs
  • local food drives

Horizons Unlimited

ellicott city roofing by horizons unlimited home improvements

Horizons Unlimited is a family-owned and operated roofing business that’s been serving the community since 1993. Over the years, they have served more than 7,000 customers and have built quite a strong reputation for themselves. This company really does it all, ranging from custom kitchens and bathrooms to roofing, siding, and more. However, their specific roofing services include:

  • Inspections
  • installation
  • repairs
  • gutter care

They also offer a wide variety of roofing types, such as metal and even rubber roofing. For residential customers with flat roofs, this is another area of expertise for Horizons Unlimited.


Roofpro Ellicott City

Located in Severn and proudly serving Ellicott City and the surrounding areas, RoofPro‘s motto is “Roofing it right the first time.” This licensed and CertainTeed-certified roofing company specializes in full roofing replacement, roof repair, and skylights—though they also provide deck and patio services. Whether you’re in need of a second opinion on a roofing inspection or have a roofing emergency, you can reach their team and request an appointment for a free consultation or estimate. They’ve been proudly serving Ellicott City area residents since the company was first founded in 2003, and have built a strong reputation for quality work.

Shanco Roofing

shanko roofing Ellicott city, MD

For more than 20 years, the experts at Shanco Roofing have been serving the community with their roof installation, repair, and replacement needs. They have been recognized by several top roofing manufacturers, including CertainTeed, EcoStar, GAF, and others for their expertise and quality labor. Shanco Roofing also prides themselves in being able to service any number of roofing types, including:


cedar shake

standing seam




Whether you’re in need of repair, installation, waterproofing, or even storm damage repair, their experienced team has you covered. Plus, all their roofing work comes with a labor warranty, so you can enjoy additional peace of mind and confidence with your purchase.


It was crumbling. Chimney rebuild – Columbia, MD

bad chimney parging 
This home needed our Columbia, MD chimney repair services cyears before we came out to look at it.  Fortunately, the fireplace itself did not need any wood burning fireplace repair.  However, the chimney was in bad shape.  The bricks were spalling.  Spalling, is when the faces of the bricks pop out. This is caused by water soaking into the brick and then freezing. As the water freezes, it expands and pops the brick faces out. In this case, someone tried to fix the chimney by parging over the spalled bricks. That is not the correct way to fix it this problem.  As you can see the parging is falling off and cracking and it also just looks horrible!  This is another example where we were called in to fix a problem that was partially caused by the poor workmanship of other companies.  It reminds me of a previous job that involved a chimney leak. Fortunately, we were able to rebuild this chimney and even match the bricks.  

Before the Chimney Rebuild

failing chimney crown

This problem more than likely started from the crown failing and then worked its way down from there. Also, notice that the top course of brick steps back in. A lot of chimneys are built like this as a decorative way to terminate the chimney but I’m not a fan of this because it leaves a place for water to sit and if water is sitting anywhere on the chimney you can believe that it will eventually damage it. I prefer to flare the brick out then laying the crown over it so the water runs off the top down with nowhere to sit. This project reminds me of another chimney repair job that we did in Ellicott City, MD.

disassembled chimney
We took the chimney down to the roofline, which is where the last of the damaged bricks were. We also relined the fireplace flue with a stainless steel liner because the flue liners were cracked further down below the area we rebuilt. 

After the Chimney Rebuild

completed chimney rebuild

This is the completed chimney rebuild. We installed new counter flashing, flared out the top 3 courses, rebuilt the concrete crown, waterproofed the chimney, relined the fireplace and installed and Lock Top II damper.

final chimney rebuild
Completed chimney rebuild

We were able to find a pretty good match on the bricks. Which allows the rebuilt portion not to stand out like a sore thumb.

street view of chimney in Columbia, MD

Street view of the completed chimney rebuild!