If you have ugly brick and are wondering what to do with it, then you’ve come to the right place. I really get excited about ugly brick!! In fact, I wish I had a house with ugly brick on it because then I would have no problem covering it up and getting my FAVORITE look!! If I had a house with nice brick then I probably wouldn’t be able to justify covering it up even to get a look I’d like better.
So, what are the choices for you ugly brick owners?
Well, there is Whitewash. If you read my post on How to Whitewash Brick you can see my experience with that. Whitewash is mixing water with paint. The more water the more brick color you will see through it. The problem with this is if you have red brick…. Red + White = Pink. Yeah that’s right, you end up with pink brick and it doesn’t look good.So if you have red brick and you want to use paint then you really want to do the “Worn Paint” look. This look involves painting the brick and sanding or scrubbing/washing it off (if its still wet) in random spots.
Here is a great example of a white painted house that has the paint rubbed off in spots:
Other ways you can achieve a similar look is to use a limewash. “Limewash is a mixture of slaked lime and water that, as it dries, reacts with carbon dioxide in the air carbonating creating a tough, “rock” like coating.” Source Limewash has been around for centuries.
You can get that solid painted look with limewash if you put on several coats all over or you can get that “drippy”, “chalky” look (I know, very technical terms, lol) if you apply it randomly:
or here is another look for limewashed brick for a nice weathered chalky look:
There is a 3rd option but this one is a little more involved and a little less DIY friendly….Mortar Wash or Smearing Mortar. There are a few different looks with Smeared Mortar.
Here is a house that the mortar has just been smeared a little bit:
Here is the front of the same house:
This is how the home owner said it was applied, “We used white mortar (and white sand) and had the brick masons “smear” a little mortar on… the bricks with their trowel as they went. We also pressure washed the brick lightly at the end of the job…. Bricks and it is called “hampton”. It is a queen sized brick. The mortar is white…. basic red brick. Really, the look here is achieved through the white mortar and by having a really good brick mason….”
I just love the look of red brick with white mortar. Even if you aren’t going to smear the mortar, I think by FAR the best mortar color for red brick is white mortar…..oops, sorry for the tangent.
Now here is a house that has the mortar smeared a little thicker, see how it covers up more of the brick?-
Finally, if you want something that looks like stucco but you can still see the outline of the brick a little bit you’d do a full on mortar wash, which is thinning the mortar out with water and applying it all over the brick, like this house:
You can’t see the brick color through a mortar wash, just the texture of the brick.
Well, I think that’s about it….Oh wait a minute. If you are lucky enough to be able to choose your brick, then they do make brick that has the whitewashed look.
Here is just a few examples of your MANY different options:
This would look nice if the mortar was the same color as the whitewash part of the brick.
So tell me, what’s your favorite look?
UPDATE: I’ve been getting tons of questions about German Smeared Mortar and thought I’d share an update. I’ve recently seen some mortar being smeared and thought I’d try to explain the process because I don’t have pictures.
Mix Mortar to the consistency of thicker pancake batter (thick enough to scoop onto a trowel but thin enough to spread)
Scoop up some mortar on the bottom long edge of your flat-edged trowel.
Place on wall at a 45 degree angle and pull the trowel upwards leaving a thin layer of mortar on the brick.
Use a wire brush with a scraper on the edge to remove some of the mortar on the individual bricks. This is where a picture of your desired look will come in handy. You want to remove mortar from bricks randomly. Some of the brick can have only some of the brick exposed and some can have all of the brick exposed. You don’t want to remove the new mortar you just put on from the preexisting mortar because if you look at pictures of German Smeared mortar you’ll see the mortar is built up between the brick and only some of the bricks towards the middle of the bricks are exposed. You can use the brush and the scraper on the end to get your desired look. Always, keep stepping back and looking at the big picture when doing this so you can get that weathered, random look.
Use a damp tile sponge to smooth out the edges of the mortar you just removed and blend the mortar to the brick, rinsing the sponge often. Then let dry.
Well, hopefully that gets you started. I’m by no means am an expert, but hopefully it’s enough to test out.
Thinking about doing some German Smear on your brick? I’ve been collecting info on it, you can see what I have so far here: