Hey Everyone! I’m super excited to share with you exactly how we are TRANSFORMING (I say transforming because we are not done yet) our exposed brick in our future playroom. Let me start off by saying that it has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to have exposed brick in some form in our home. I think it can add so much character and history to a home and can be such a charming feature when done right.
So here was the problem: I did not like our brick.
I thought the darker bricks were a little purply (that’s a word right?) and it had what I liked to call “white blobs” randomly all over. And then the worst part was the mortar. It was a cement gray color that just wasn’t attractive. I also really really tried to like it because my husband thought it was fine and that I was making a big deal out of it. We apparently weren’t looking at the same brick.
Do you see what I mean? Do you see the random “blobbies” all over?? I guess it was supposed to have a “white washed” look but I just didn’t like it. Especially with the gray grout. Lastly, it was just so dark and sucked all the light out of the room.
So when we started our carport/playroom renovation, our goal was to make this feel like an actual room and not a carport that we just converted (although I’m sure it will always be obvious) but I knew right away that I did not want to just cover up our brick because: 1) cost savings. It would have cost more money to frame out and drywall over the brick than it would to transform the brick into something we love 2) its a great way to add so much character to the playroom!!
So the first thing I did was research. This included looking on Google Images, Pinterest, Instagram, and other blogs. I quickly found out that there were MANY different methods you could use to transform your brick. I knew right off the bat that I did not want to just paint the brick if at all possible. (not hating on painted brick – we have a painted brick fireplace in our living room – just not the look I was going for in here) I really really wanted an aged brick look that had lots of depth and character.
So… besides painted brick, there was mortar wash/german smearing, limewash, and whitewash. Again, I knew that I didn’t want the painted look so whitewash was also out of the picture. So that left german smearing and limewash.
Before we ever got started, I knew that I wanted to test and practice on some brick that would not be exposed. THIS STEP WAS SO IMPORTANT!! The biggest lesson I ever learned throughout all of our DIY and home renovation experience was to test everything and sample everything FIRST! The most regrettable moments in our home was when we didn’t do this.
So I tried the German Smearing/mortar wash first (see the picture to the right). All of the how to’s of this method mentioned that you basically caked it on, let it set up for a bit and then used a wire brush or scraper to expose some of the brick to your liking. And this turned out okay… but not the best.
My first mistake was to do this when it was absolutely freezing outside. It took FOREVER for it to dry and I kept touching it and lifting some of the mortar out because it wasn’t dry enough yet.
It also ended up looking too “cakey” for my liking. I also didn’t like that when I completely covered up the brick and then tried to scrape it off later, it left this weird film on the brick that was impossible to get through. (see the top of the test for this reference)
Again, this didn’t look terrible but it just wasn’t to my liking yet (just personal preference). But I did feel like it made it look brighter and covering up the gray mortar was a good thing. I felt like I just needed to find the right method of using this material.
So then I went in a completely different direction and I tested limewash. I had seen so many beautiful examples of limewash and how it could make new brick look really old and have tons of character. It also seemed super easy to do and I was really hopeful that this would answer all of my prayers.
Limewash has basically been around forever and is a great method to use on brick because it lets the bricks breathe. It’s also awesome because you simply mix up the ingredients with water, get your bricks wet, slap it on and let it dry, and then take a hose pipe and spray it down to distress it. I thought this was going to be it and it would take no time to do.
Well… I tested it and didn’t like it.
By now you’re probably thinking, does she like anything?? I guess it was the fact that I had a certain look in my head that I wanted to achieve and this wasn’t it. But I didn’t know that until I tested it (see image below).
The biggest deal breaker on the limewash was the fact that it didn’t want to stick to the grout lines very well for some reason. When I used the hose to distress it, it came right off the grout lines first which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I wanted the gray mortar covered up, not highlighted! The look of the actual brick face was pretty cool limewashed but again, not what I was going for.
So that’s when I saw Savannah’s post from their blog Classy Clutter (Classyclutter.net) about how she basically re-grouted her fireplace and I knew that this was the route that I wanted to take.
So I totally want to give her credit for these steps and I want to show you how I took these same steps and added a twist of my own to make my brick look new (old really 😛 ) but you know what I mean! 🙂
- 5 gal Bucket
- mixer attachment for your drill
- rubber gloves
- spray bottle for water
- masonry piping bag
- white Mortar
- wire brush/masonry brush
- drop cloth/plastic
- a ladder (if needed)
Step 1 : Gather materials and prepare your area. Don’t forget to cover the floor with a drop cloth or plastic, especially if you are doing this inside.
Step 2: Mix your mortar. A mixer attachment for the drill comes in really handy for this part! The consistency should end up looking like a Wendy’s frosty. If you feel like its not flowing out of your piping bag easy enough, add a little more water to the mix. You definitely don’t want this to be too runny!
Step 3: Dampen your brick. I used a spray bottle for this step.
Step 4: After filling up your piping bag about halfway (I turn the top part down as I’m filling it up to help keep things neat), start piping into your grout lines in small sections. My brick already had gouged out grout lines and a place for the mortar to go so I’m not sure if this would work if your grout lines are already flush to your brick. Start with the horizontal lines first and then fill in the vertical lines.
Step 5: The easiest/hardest part: Waiting for it to set up. Depending on your climate and temperature, this part will vary. (I tested this method in the early spring when it was still cold and it took FOREVER for it to dry. But now that I’m doing this in June/July, it is drying much faster!) Just keep testing the mortar (with gloves on) to see how much it has dried. If it comes away with you on your gloves, then you know its not ready yet. I have learned that if its dry enough to leave your gloves dry but soft enough to leave a finger print, then it is perfect! Don’t wait too long or it will not be able to be manipulated and that would be sad!
Step 6: Before I even start smearing, I take the handle of the wire brush (you can use any handle of any tool for this part as long as it gives you the results you want) and rake it along the grout lines to make sure they are even and flush with the brick. This also helps me to catch any places that I missed with the piping bag. All I do is take some extra mortar that I have raked off (you will have a good bit) and smush it into those places with my glove. I had to keep telling myself that this wasn’t supposed to look perfect so its okay if there are places that need more mortar, you can always add more later.
Step 7: Start smearing that mortar! I really wanted a lot of the brick to show through the mortar (I’m not going for the “completely caked on but only in a few places” look) but wanted to give it an all-over even “mortar washed” look with messy grout lines. This is the part that gets really messy so make sure you protect your floors and yourself! I simply rubbed my gloves all over the brick to smear the mortar around and it gave me the perfect look that I was going for! In a few places, I added some extra dried mortar to give it some depth and character.
So this is the result!!!
Can you believe this is the same brick???
These Before and After shots really show you the difference:
The “blobbies” are still there but at least they’re hidden now 🙂 Doesn’t it look so much brighter and better!!?? We couldn’t be happier with the results and I can’t wait to get the rest of the room finished! Stay tuned for more playroom updates!