How to paint a clay chiminea?

paint a clay chiminea

Did you know you can paint a clay chimenea to keep it looking smart? And did you know that, while specialist paint is available, ordinary house paint also does the job? Let’s take a look at how to give your old clay chiminea a bright new finish.

A stunning painted chiminea

Thanks to Pinterest for the image.

Why paint a clay chiminea?

Simply being used outdoors and left out in the elements changes the colour and surface of a clay chim. Leave it and you’ll gradually achieve a lovely natural patina that makes your chim blend into the background, looking like it has been there forever. It’s a look some people love, but others don’t like at all.

A few coats of paint will bring it back to new-looking life, add extra personality, extend its useful life by protecting the surface, change the look completely, or even help you to change the function. If you don’t want to use it as a patio fire any more you can paint it, decorate it, and use it for planting flowers to tumble out of the mouth. Pretty!

So first, let’s take a look at the right paints for painting a clay chiminea.

A choice of paints to use

It’s great to know there’s a good choice of paint to use on your clay chim, and they’re readily available. First of all, there’s spray paint. Some people find it easier to use spray paint because it doesn’t require any brush skills. The surface you achieve will be naturally smooth, without any brush strokes, and the finish will last for ages. Then there’s paint in a tin, for which you just need a good paintbrush and a bit of patience.

How about the best paints to use for a chiminea? Some suggest heat resistant paint, others – including Gardeco, whose top quality chims we stock – say ordinary household emulsion paint will do a wonderful job.

  • Rust-Oleum Stove Paint is specially designed for high-temperature surfaces, making it ideal for painting clay chimeneas. It dries quite fast to create a very durable and tough surface. It resists heat up to 650°C and comes in many lovely colours
  • Household emulsion paint is available in an endless range of colours. Try matt emulsion – you might have some spare odds and ends left over from painting your home – or masonry paint. If you want your own unique colour you can sometimes take a swatch of fabric, a leaf, a piece of fruit or whatever you like along to the paint mixing store and they’ll create the colour for you using their special equipment. B&Q and Dulux Decorator Centres both do paint mixing.
  • Earthborn Clay Paint is just one brand of clay paint that’ll give you a lovely matt finish. It’s amazing stuff, designed to cover a wide variety of unusual surfaces with ease including kitchen cabinet worktops, bare plaster and exterior walls. The high clay content and lack of oils means it withstands high temperatures really well. There’s a huge range of delicious colours to choose from
  • Calfire Heat Resistant Stove Paint is a really high quality aerosol stove paint that dries really fast, fine up to 650°C with a professional finish. It also comes in a wide choice of lush colours
  • Stove Bright High Temperature Paint is another specialist product available in a load of gorgeous colours. It’s used to paint furnaces and boilers so it’s good to a very high temperature, and comes with a lovely glossy finish
  • Hammerite High Heat Paint Aerosol is a classic high temperature paint that comes in a wealth of colours. It’s good up to 600°C. It resists faking and cracking really well, too. The traditional tinned version of Hammerite also does a great job

Painting a clay chiminea in easy steps

First gather your materials together. You’ll need dust sheets or newspaper to protect the ground you’re working on. A primer to go under the paint. The paint you’ve chosen, in either one or several colours. A large and small paint brush. A sponge and soapy water. Plus some sandpaper.

Clean your chiminea – First, dust it thoroughly to remove loose muck. Then use ordinary washing up liquid in hot water to wash off the grease, dust, mud, charcoal smears and bird poop with a sponge. Don’t use bleach or any other harsh chemicals.

Sand down the surface – This gets rid of any stubborn grit or dirt that’ll affect the paint’s surface, leaving it nice and smooth. Once there’s no more loose stuff to remove and your rag comes away clean, you’re ready.

Prime the surface – Paint primer gives you a good, stable surface for your paint to stick to. It helps hide and stubborn stains you couldn’t scrub off, and seals the surface so it’s less porous. Don’t forget to leave it to dry thoroughly, usually at least three hours.

Paint a clay chiminea – You can paint a clay chiminea inside and out, but plenty of people just paint the outside surfaces, the bits you can see. Let your first coat dry before adding more coats. Use at least three coats of paint and leave the finished surface to dry for the right amount of time.

Seal the painted surface – You can seal the surface with all sorts of products. A good quality wood sealant or acrylic floor finish will do the job, as will Thompson’s Water Seal. You can even buy a specialist Chimseal product from LaHacienda. Because sealants ore often coloured green, you might want to add a final coat of paint over the top of your sealed surface to make sure the colour’s exactly what you want.

Wait until everything is 100% dry – It might take 3-5 days for all your coats of paint and sealant to dry out completely, after which you can use it again as you usually would.

The creative bit…

You could paint your chiminea just one beautiful colour. Imagine a dramatic deep ocean blue with a lovely glossy sheen, or a pale lilac matt clay paint finish? How about fire engine red? Or pure silky black to add a very cool edge to your next alfresco event – and also doesn’t show the dirt?

It’s also great fun adding more personality to your chiminea with patterns. If you’re artistic and good with a brush, the world is your oyster. You don’t need our help! If not, here are some really simple ways to add colour and verve to your chim:

It’s easy to create stunning stripe, either horizontal or vertical. Maybe classic deckchair colours, perhaps something more vivid and bright, either toning or clashing. Make all your stripes the same width or mix and match different widths. Make neat stripes by first marking them out with masking tape, then painting in between the tape to get beautifully neat edges. Once the first stripes are dry, re-apply tape to make the edges of your next set of stripes just as neat. If you’re not that bothered about being neat, just go for it without the masking tape.

Make a potato stamp or buy a rubber stamp to add cool patterns to your chiminea. You could make or buy a simple heart shaped stamp and add different coloured hearts to a plain surface. Spots are always lovely too – how about multi-coloured spots against a dark background? It’s easy to make flower shapes. A circle in the middle with petals around the edge does a great job.

How about the wax resist technique? Use a wax candle to draw shapes and designs on the painted surface then add another coat of contrasting or toning paint. The wax resists the paint to give you a funky design. Here’s another creative idea. Grab an old length of rope or thick string. Wind it around the painted chiminea tightly. Then spray paint over the top in a contrasting or toning colour. When the paint is dry, whip the string or rope off to leave a beautiful pattern. You get an equally amazing effect by sticking leaves to the painted surface with a small blob of PVA glue then spray painting over the top. Imagine your clay chiminea decorated with stunning natural leaf designs? Wow.

If you have kids, why not let them loose to decorate your chiminea any way they like with paints? Varnish over the top for a lovely homey, colourful look.

If you’re going to re-purpose an old clay chiminea into a planter, there’s more than paint. How about using old bits of tile or pottery shards to smother the whole structure in colourful mosaic? All you do is use ordinary exterior tile adhesive and grout. The results are super-sturdy as well as gorgeous and practical. You could do the same with sea shells, or even flat slate chips.

Paint a clay chiminea – How long will your painted surface last?

The short answer is, it depends… on how frequently you use your chim, the weather, and how well you protect it through the winter. But once you’ve painted a clay chiminea once, doing it again is a piece of cake.

If you paint yours we’d love to see the results. Will you send us photos? We’ll make your painted chiminea the star of a blog post if you like!