Brick fireplaces serve as the perfect centerpiece in most homes. The earthy and classic appearance combines with the ambiance and warmth of the fire to give you the comfort and satisfaction you desire.
As durable as they are, bricks are quite porous too and, allowing too much moisture absorption, may not only damage the bricks but also cause your fireplace to crumble. Furthermore, the idea of having wet fireplace bricks doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense.
On the other hand, there are concerns about sealing a fireplace, ranging from preventing breathability and encouraging dampness, but how true are they?
Indeed, using the wrong material for sealing can make everything go south which is why you need proper guidance. So, back to the question, do you need to seal a brick fireplace?
Does Brick Fireplace Need to Be Sealed?
Yes, certainly. It is necessary to seal a brick fireplace to help keep moisture out and sustain the integrity of the fireplace. Bricks, especially refractory clay bricks, are supposed to last for several decades.
In fact, some brick walls and structures have stood for centuries. If properly secured and sealed, your fireplace can last for several generations; for as long as the house exists.
Once installation is complete, many homeowners tend to leave the brick as is and may live to regret it.
The proper thing to do is to seal the bricks and keep them safe from moisture, arising from chimney or chase leaks, heat, or even liquid spills from human activity.
There’s really nothing different about sealing fireplace bricks, except that it is a continuously hot environment and care must be taken in choosing what materials to use.
Benefits Of Sealing a Brick Fireplace
1. Helps prevent decay
Continuous absorption of water can cause the brick to decay. Bricks are able to hold water just like a sponge.
And just as stale water on any surface or container can lead to decay over time, moisture-laden bricks are also likely to decay after some time, causing the fireplace to lose its appeal and beauty.
2. Keeps bricks strong
Bricks are also able to maintain strength and integrity when they are sealed. This is because moisture is not able to seep through and cause cracks or faults within.
By using a sealant, water bounces off easily and the durability of your fireplace is maintained.
3. Prevents moss growth
Moss and fungal microorganisms tend to have a filled day in damp areas.
Wet brick is certainly an attraction for moss and allowing them to build up can have severe consequences for your health and those of other members of your family, especially those with allergies.
Also, mold can weaken your bricks over time.
4. Prevents leaks that may affect fireplace
One of the most immediate consequences of not sealing your brick fireplace is that moisture spills can find their way into the fire and cause a mess.
We all know what happens if water drops on burning wood or ash. It can cause ash dust or smoke to fill the room and make breathing uncomfortable.
5. Saves you money
Give or take, you spent about $10,000 to build a complete fireplace. Having it damaged by moisture means losing all that money and spending some more to rebuild or fix the fireplace. You can avoid this loss by using an effective sealant.
As long as you properly seal the bricks with the recommended sealant, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Some may argue that bricks need to breathe and allow oxygen through, but sealing them with specifically-designed sealants should do the job.
How Do You Seal a Brick Fireplace?
Let’s get down to business. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, this is one more way to challenge your craftsmanship and skillset. Let’s show you how to effectively seal a brick fireplace.
1. Water-repellent Sealer
Emphasis is on water-repellent, otherwise, you’d be wasting your time. Ensure it is a recommended product, specifically produced for fireplace bricks.
Some notable products include Eco Advance Concrete/Masonry Siloxane Water Repellent Sealant and Stormdry Masonry Protection Cream.
2. Pump Sprayer/Brush
The Sealer is likely to come in buckets or gallons. This is why you’d need a pump sprayer or brush, depending on the consistency of the product you choose. Some are water-based while others are creamy, like the two examples above.
You probably already have high liquid-absorbent towels in your store. Otherwise, you can get one or two for the job.
4. Liquid Dish Soap
Any good liquid dish soap that won’t leave a bad reaction on the brick is fine. Regular non-chemical soaps are preferred.
5. Water: Regular tap water is fine.
Step by Step Process
- Lay towels on the hearth, just in front of the firebox/fireplace. This is to help protect your home flooring from debris and stains.
- Add a tablespoon of the liquid Dish soap in a bucket of water, then dip the brush into the mixture.
- Scrub generously with the wet brush, allowing it find its way into the mortar and lines.
- Remove the soap residue on the brick and in corners using a wet rag. Then press dry towels patiently into the bricks to remove water.
- Leave brick to dry overnight.
- Next day, pour your water-repellent sealant into the sprayer and pump to gain pressure.
- Position the nozzle about 4 inches away from the brick and just above the fireplace. Spray by sweeping the nozzle through the bricks, back and forth and sideways. Ensure you completely saturate the fireplace and you walk your way down to the base.
- If you find a need for a second coat, leave the first coat for a few hours to dry. Apply the second coat and leave to dry. This usually takes between 4 to 12 hours, depending on the product.
- Your sealed brick fireplace is ready to use.
Precautions for sealing a brick fireplace
Here are a few tips to make your brick sealing worth your while;
- Use only water-repellent Sealer to keep moisture out.
- Ensure the sealant is fire-resistant to prevent it from burning out or causing a fire.
- As much as possible, use a colorless sealant. This will help you maintain the original color of the brick, as well as itz consistency throughout.
- If sealant contains harsh chemicals, wear protective gears like gloves and face masks. Also, be sure to keep kids and pets away until it is dry.
- Ensure wall is clean and dry before spraying sealant, otherwise you may be sealing up dirt and moss, which can cause decay and damage in the future.
How Much Does It Cost To Seal Brick Fireplace?
Depending on the brand, a quality water-repellent sealant should go for $120 to $200, for an average of 3 gallons. A typical pump sprayer will cost about $20, but more high-end brands may go for more than $100.
And if you’re going to use a brush, that should cost about $10. Every other thing you’d need is simple household items. However, if you do not have towels, liquid dish soap and buckets, you’d be able to get them all at under $50.
In all, sealing a brick fireplace shouldn’t cost you more than $200. However, if you’re hiring a professional, that cost may rise to about $500.
How Often Should You Seal Brick Fireplace?
Every 10 years. This is based on the expectation that a brick sealant will last up to 10 years before you’ll need to reapply it.
Now you know how important it is to seal a brick fireplace. There are certain myths that say it is wrong to seal a brick fireplace but that’s all they are- myths.
If you want to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your fireplace for a long time, you must ensure the bricks are properly sealed against moisture and dampness.