DIY Modern Brick Wall Treatment

By September 19, 2012Uncategorized

I’m ashamed to say that Aaron and I have been working on this brick wall project since November 2009. Seriously. And not because it was hard, but life sort of got in the way. A determined DIYer could get it done in a week and most of that is drying time.


Emily Snuffer

With us now super-motivated to sell Aaron’s house, we knew we had to pick up where we left off (ohhh… 2-3 years ago) and get ‘er done.

Emily Snuffer

November 2009

(Above) This is Aaron’s living room. We had the grand idea to remove the plaster to expose the brick fireplace. We knew the fireplace was back there so the idea of exposing an original element of the house was exciting to us. Except when we tore down the plaster, we saw a not-so-great brick wall with a cemented-in fireplace.

Emily Snuffer

(Above) Some of the brick was cracked and crumbling. There were big smoke stains on one side (I’m guessing where they used to hang pots) too.

Emily Snuffer

(Above) I will say the color of the brick is absolutely gorgeous and looks so good next to the gray walls.

So… we set out looking for a different solution. We had two options: 1.) Dry wall over it and cut our losses or 2.) Cover it a different way. We knew painting was out. Trying to paint crumbling dirty brick would have been a nightmare.

I found this post on Apartment Therapy about the walls in a design store in New York (BDDW’s). I was interested. We loved that it still looked like a brick wall, but with softer lines and modern style. And then I came across this post on The Nesting Game, where they also used the same approach.

Plus, it seemed so simple. You need three things: drywall compound, a big ‘ole spackle knife and medium grit sandpaper.

Emily Snuffer

(Above) We started with a skim coat of drywall compound, filling in the bigger holes and cracks. In baking, I would call this a “crumb coat.” Once the wall was skim-coated, we went back over the entire wall (without waiting for it to dry) with a much thicker coat, smoothing and swirling as we went.

Emily Snuffer

(Above) Did I mention this project is super messy?

Emily Snuffer

(Above) After a couple of hours, we had a nice, thick coat of drywall compound covering the wall.

It took about a week for the compound to totally dry, so we let it sit. We wanted to be safe so we waited, oh… two years. :)

The last step was sanding and finishing the top edge and corners. For sanding, we only wanted a few peeks of the brick to show through, with an overall smooth look. More sanding would have resulted in a more rustic, distressed look while sanding less would have resulted in a much more solid, contemporary look.

It feels good to be finally finished with this project!

Emily Snuffer

Emily Snuffer

Emily Snuffer

Emily Snuffer

I want to add a sunburst mirror to the wall but besides that, this project is finally done. Woo! Feels good. :)

What do you think? Anyone else dealing with crumbly brick walls?

Love it? Hate it?




Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Anna says:

    Saddened. I love the brick before. The wall now feels unfinished, like drywall thrown up and not fully painted. :(
    Love brick walls even crappy deteriorating ones.
    I hope this doesn’t take away from resale value. It seems hard to un do and only for certain tastes.

  • Love the look Emily! Have you thought about a shallow mantle? Nice little place for some candles.

    I have been keeping my eye out for a solution for our fireplace. It sticks out like a sore thumb in our den and I want to soften it a bit. Perhaps something like this would work :)

  • I love the little pieces of brick peeking through! It looks so good, way better than the plaster before! And I agree with Christine, a mantle would look great and really finish off the look! :)

  • Katie says:

    Hmm, not sure how I feel about this. I feel like it looks like sloppy, unfinished work. Personally, I would have left the brick as is, especially if planning to sell the house. It definitely looks more modern, though!

  • Gabbi says:

    Gosh, it must feel so good to cross this project off your list! I think a mantle would look great too.

  • Jenn says:

    I’m not crazy about it, but I’m wondering if that’s because right now it just looks like a random white space behind the sofa rather than a feature. Would it be possible to flip the room around so the TV is against the brick and the sofa faces the windows/ brick wall? I feel like that might make it seem more like a focus of the room.

    • emily @ go haus go says:

      That seems to be the general consensus of the comments! I like it but if other people don’t, that means potential buyers won’t either. I think the feature rearrangement might help! We will definitely be trying that out. I’m wondering if I should also paint the thing so it looks more finished?? Thanks so much for your feedback. Means a lot to me.

  • […] to realtors we talk to – I think because of its size and the sun room), but it seems our plaster fireplace treatment is a bit controversial. We heard it from a few of you, as well as some prospective buyers. It was […]

  • Jonathan says:

    Thinking about trying to replicate the bddw walls in our brownstone as well. My only concern is that the materials recommended would prevent the bricks from breathing, and cause them to erode over time. Any insights would be much appreciated!

Leave a Reply