Dry-brushing is a technique interior decorators and artists use to bring out or enhance natural beauty such as in a wizened old fireplace. Basically it is highlighting an already existing surface. A novice can also learn to do this, but first they must be able to see the natural beauty of a basic surface, and develop a “good eye” for bringing it out to its best advantage. Some create a surface by painting the color they want, then they dry-brush over the top of it for a special effect in an effort to imitate aging.

You will sometimes see old weathered wooden furniture, doors, or windows that have almost turned a silvery gray. These have natural beauty. With a little sprucing up and dry-brushing they can be turned into remarkable works of art.

Fireplaces are much the same way, they are sometimes unique and charmingly aged in their own special way with a natural beauty and color. Many cannot appreciate or see the natural beauty the fireplace is carrying until it is transformed with dry-brushing.

How Do You Apply the Dry-Brushing Technique to Your Old Fireplace to Bring Out its Natural Beauty?

You have an aged fireplace with its own natural beauty and a good basic coloring, but it needs something to bring it to life all of the way. This is where dry-brushing comes into play. You don’t want to just paint over an aged fireplace with a thick coat of paint covering the charm of it, so you lightly dry- brush it to give it a “wash” of color and texture. How do you do this? 

Gather Your Supplies

Gather the supplies you will be needing for dry-brushing. You will need paint and a brush, of course, and a roll of paper towels to blot up any excess paint on your brush. Keep the lid to your paint handy because this will be used as the your container to hold a bit of paint for dry-brushing.

You can use one color or a few different shades for a nice effect with different layers. Get creative in your color selections.

White paint is good for dry-brushing a silvery aged wood. You could even work in a little grayish silver. When selecting your dry-brush color or tint pick a color that “highlights” the surface you are dry-brushing.

Apply Paint with “Dry-Brushing”

Use the underside of the lid of your paint can as the container for your dry-brush paint. You can also use a paper plate or other shallow container if you want. Dribble a very small amount of paint on the lid, using a stirring stick or something similar. You don’t want a whole lot of paint, just a few dribbles at a time. You can dribble more into your container when you need it.

Very gently dabble the tip of your dry paint brush into the bit of paint on your paint can lid. Touch it a few times to a paper towel to absorb any excess paint. You want your brush almost dry. Use quick short brush strokes going in different directions on your fireplace very lightly leaving fine stroke marks.

The bristles on your brush will still be separated because they are almost dry and not saturated with paint. This leaves a very nice texture without conformity allowing the existing character of the surface you are highlighting to shine through. There really is no wrong or right way to dry- brush as long as you leave your brush almost dry and gently guide it over the surface leaving only fine brush marks.

If you push to hard on the brush you can create a smear. Dotting paint lightly with the tip of your brush also creates a nice effect. Do it very lightly as mentioned before to avoid clumping colors and loosing the nice pattern of the dry brush hairs.

As you do this you can stick with one color or create a unique look by trying different colors in different layers. Working from light to dark colors or dark to light colors will produce an interesting and good looking effect. Always remember to let the existing surface show through.

Successful Use of the Dry- Brushing Technique for a Fireplace

Sometimes it takes a little practice to get the hang of dry-brushing. The main things to remember are to stay “light handed” and keep your brush almost dry so the bristles will stay flexible and separated. The bristles, or hairs on your brush are what gives the fine line texture when applying the dry-brushing technique to your fireplace.