Austin reacts as the woman goes through her process, pointing out that the caulk she uses is for tile and not safe to be near a fireplace, and that the paint she uses is not furnace primer. “Watching people paint their fireplaces makes me physically uncomfortable,” he says as he observes.
Then, the original poster fought back, responding to commenters on her video and seemingly shading Austin himself. “I got a lot of comments from quote-unquote ‘experts’ telling me I shouldn’t have painted it because the fireplace is going to get so hot, it’s going to create toxic fumes,” she says in a rebuttal video. She then uses a thermometer to show that the bricks near the fireplace haven’t heated up to the maximum safety limit for the paint, which is 200 degrees. (She did not respond to DMs from BuzzFeed News asking for comment.)
So who is right?
Russ Dimmitt, director of education for the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the certifying body for chimney sweeps, says that painting over a fireplace is almost never safe, but his primary concern is the paint trapping moisture and damaging the brick. “As an industry, we recommend against painting brick as a practice because of the potential to cause issues with the longevity of the brick and mortar,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Seeing the rise in popularity of painted fireplaces has concerned Dimmitt so much that he reached out to some televised DIY shows to try to alert them of the problems. “They said, ‘It’s TV, don’t worry about it,’” he recalled.
However, not all building professionals see a painted fireplace as a grave disaster. Austin Jenkins, a home inspector in Tennessee who gives advice on TikTok as Inspector AJ, told BuzzFeed News, “Painting a fireplace is relatively safe.” He added, “I mean, I painted my fireplace, if that says anything.” He pointed out that an international building code that specifies there should be nothing combustible within 6 inches of the fireplace opening probably refers more to wood trim and other materials, rather than paint.
Austin isn’t a hardliner when it comes to not painting your fireplace. He just stressed that if you do, you should not use latex paint (which is, at some temperature, combustible). “If they are going to paint it, I recommend an earth-based pigment like a lime wash, something noncombustible,” Austin said. “The other option is to use furnace paint or high-temp paint. That’s noncombustible up to 1,200 degrees.”
Indeed, he has dueted videos of house flippers who used furnace paint and given his seal of approval.