NY Good Questions Can I Paint Slate Apartment Therapy

NY Good Questions: Can I Paint Slate?

Dear AT,

I have a functional fireplace that is hulking and ugly, with funny Art Deco-ish carvings.

It’s made out of some kind of black slate-like material, but has been fixed over the years with white caulking (see picture 2).


please, don’t paint it.

I don’t know about painting slate, but removing the fireplace insert and tiling that over with white subway tile would look brighten it, and the white contrast with the slate could look great. That’s what I’m doing at my place. )

I second the tile suggestion. Really, the door bothers me more than the slate, but I don’t know if you can do anything about that.

What about oiling it to make it look really pretty again? Painting it would do some irreparable damage, as anyone wanting to strip it would have a hard time getting the paint out of those great little designs.

You don’t even have to remove the caulk. You can tint it with aftermarket grout stain — I did this with a slate floor that had white grout. I used a charcoal grey and a small brush and it looks great. To prep for the work I used a restorative slate cleaner. The stone came up a lovely soft black and now we get complements on the floor all the time. Painting your surround would be a mistake — just contact a good slate floor installer to get hooked up with some restorative cleanser and some grout stain. I second the poster who said the weird door thing is the real problem.

Painting that fireplace would be a crime.

The problem is that it’s not meant to be be on a white wall. If you paint that wall a really beautiful gray color (try Farrow & Ball) the fireplace will be a showstopper.

if you’re looking to remove caulk, i just used this product essentially made out of citrus oil. It dissolves just about anything EXCEPT paint, which makes it awesome for using around the house (i had to rip out an old closet that was attached with Liquid Nails — nightmare). The best part is that its made from citrus fruit, smells like oranges and not chemicals, and is all natural! I found it in a spray bottle at my hardware store.

Is that slate or soapstone? Either way, I agree with everyone above. Oil it and paint the wall. Does it get hot when the fireplace is in use? That would be another reason not to paint it.

I agree with everyone who suggests that you DON’T paint. Fix the caulking, maintain the slate, paint your wall. Do whatever it takes but PLEASE don’t paint the slate. What a mistake that would be. This fireplace has the potential to be a great convesation piece.

If I were to spend any time and effort on that fireplace I would restore its original luster.

Clean the slate and have it regrouted.

I can’t even believe anyone would do this! If you don’t like it — please have it removed and have it sent to architectural salvage. don’t ruin it. Those slate surrounds are gorgeous — sell it if you want. I also like the summer cover (sorry kakatie). I feel like painting this would be the equivalent of ripping down antique moldings and putting up fake wood panelling — remember — people thought that looked «modern» and awesome once too. On a practical front — since this is a functioning fireplace, painting it white would not be a great idea — as white gets sooty and stained very quickly.

I love it as it is! I would never paint it. -)

are you crazy? we spent days removing the paint from our slate fireplace. it’s so tasteless to have a painted one, unless it’s plain white. and I’m pretty sure your LL would not approve.

You might be surprised at what some polish and new grout can do. Remember that fireplace was intended to be beautiful, but it only looks shabby now due to neglect.

Polish the slate with a product intended for floors. Remove the caulk and replace it with dark grout. There is actually a grate polish that will restore the dark sheen to the metal while also being fire-safe.

Those three steps will cost less than $30 and take about an hour’s work and you will have restored a piece of architectural art. If it’s not entirely your aesthetic, it will add character and it’s authentic!

I am a landlord who welcomes repairs and updates. Your plans are neither. Please think again about the black grout and oiled finish before destroying this charming original detail. Please don’t.

Ouch! You picked an apartment that doesn’t reflect your sense of style — but that is no excuse to destroy what you don’t understand. Please don’t ruin this fireplace. If you insist on it’s demise, then please carefully dismantle it and send it to me!

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