DIY : How to “German Smear” an exposed brick wall

Brick walls are super cool, but I wasn’t a fan of the bright red schoolyard brick that lined every wall in my apartment. I wanted something more city-esque that fit into my aesthetics, so thankfully my landlord agreed to let me undertake this project. I knew I wanted a worn, whitewashed look but couldn’t find anything I liked on Pinterest/internet, so I made up my own technique.

Preparation was easy and I picked up everything from Lowe’s:

  • White Mortar
  • Painter’s Tape (to keep clean lines)
  • Canvas Tarp
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Big gallon bucket

I was lucky to have a new, clean brick to work with so I didn’t need to prep the brick before starting. If you have older brick, I would recommend a quick wipe down.

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I poured the dry mortar into the gallon bucket and mixed with water until it reached a good consistency. I didn’t follow the instructions on the back, just mixed it until it was similar to pancake batter. If you scoop it up with your hands and it seeps right through your fingertips, add more mortar.

Things got dirty.

And I mean, really dirty. After my first wall I learned painter’s tape is a MUST because the mortar drips literally everywhere. I didn’t use a sponge like most people suggested, I just used a thick nitrile glove so I could get in the grooves and control where the mortar went.

I started off with my living room wall, and you could see a shift in technique in the middle once I figured out what style I liked. I had a more heavy hand in the beginning and covered almost every area of the brick with mortar, but that required me to use a hard bristle brush to “distress” the areas I wanted exposed. Exhausting, axed that.

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The best way to apply the mortar is to scoop it up with your hand and just smush it against the wall and smear. I focused the most on covering the grout lines in between the brick to make sure they were white.

After a grueling 6 hours I finally finished wall #1 and still had 2 to go. It was certainly worth it in the end because I LOVE the final look. It’s clean + fresh and gives me Scandinavian feels.

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3 thoughts on “DIY : How to “German Smear” an exposed brick wall

  1. The more I look at this, the more I love it! I may or may not think about doing this in my house… Great job!

    1. Thanks Maria! It’s easier than you think and brightens the whole room up. Good luck and show me pictures if you end up doing it 🙂

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