Where have I been??? I’ve been absent from the blogging world for more than a month, but I promise I have a stash of very good reasons. In fact, I’ve had so many creative projects going on, I haven’t even had the time to take professional photos much less to post them. So, iPhone photos will have to do.
A very big project I tackled this summer was transforming a plain white wall into a beautiful brick one. My son bought his first condo – a small third floor abode in a beautiful historic home built in the late 1800s. It was the perfect palate to showcase an interior brick wall, so with about $80 in supplies and a willing mom, he now has a radical piece of character in his small living space.
STEP 1 – base coat of paint
First, we painted the wall with a shade of gray paint. Any sheen is fine, as long as the color is similar to grout. A quick coat of paint is all you need.
STEP 2 – taping
Next, using a level, pencil, and several rolls of painter’s tape, I gridded off a brick design. The “bricks” measured 4 inches x 8 inches. I didn’t worry too much about precision, because old brick walls (especially in historic homes) are quite irregular. I didn’t worry about pencil marks, either, because the finished product is so layered, they won’t show.
step 3 – stucco
Once I had finished taping, I applied pre-mixed drywall compound to the wall with spreaders. I was going for an old, rustic look, so the messier the better. Some bricks I made thicker than others.
During the time I worked on this wall, I found myself studying brick walls whenever I passed an old house. I live in an historic neighborhood, so as I walked my pug several times daily, I took mental notes on all the irregularities and nuances of old brick.
step 4 – tape removal
First, let me say that there are two schools of thought at this junction. Some folks prefer to paint the wall a brick color before removing the tape, but I opted to paint each brick individually after tape removal. I believe you achieve a more authentic result this way.
As far as tape removal goes, you can wait until the compound is completely dry or you can remove the tape while it is still damp. You’re talking to a person here that opens and re-wraps Christmas presents to myself so no-one will suspect I checked them out, so of course I didn’t let the stucco dry! I removed the tape immediately! This is the point at which you will see how beautiful the wall is becoming.
step 5 – sponging
After I removed the tape, I then dampened a sea sponge and stippled more drywall compound onto the wall, especially onto many of the grout lines. This helped to soften the rigidity of the grid lines and to give the wall even more texture. I even created some lumpy areas to mimic authentic, old crumbling walls.
step 6 – painting the bricks
This is where it gets tricky. I bought small quarts (I didn’t even need this much, but this was the smallest amount I could have mixed) of the cheapest paint available at the paint store in the following colors:
I poured a little of each color onto a tray and painted the bricks individually by mixing the colors as I went along. I used a cheap 2-3″ wide paint brush. I first painted color onto a section of bricks quickly, not worrying too much about “going outside the lines.” Then I went back over those bricks with “stipples” and “dabs” and “brushes” of other colors. Some bricks I painted predominantly gray, others browny-oranges, still others mostly white. You do need an artist’s eye to make sure the bricks look natural and convincing, but have fun with it too! Be cautious about using too much red, as it will make the bricks a saturated wine color. I never would have thought to use aqua and orange, but those colors mixed in with neutrals create much more realistic bricks than typical red or brown.
step 7 – more sponging
Once a section of bricks were painted, I used my sea sponge again dipped into my paint colors to add even more texture. I used predominantly whites to soften the brick edges and blacks to add depth to the bricks themselves.
step 8 – fine-tuning
This step may seem so minor that you’ll want to skip it, but I believe sometimes the smallest nuances create the most realistic touches. I used a small artist’s brush dipped in white paint to add some very fine straight lines to the brick edges. Especially in some places, where there were lots of “grout” and/or color in the grout lines, I added definition to the brick edge with a fine white line.
step 9 – use the leverage
That’s right. Hold this labor of love over the recipient’s head for as long as you possibly can. I told my son this was his birthday present…. and Christmas… for this year… and the next…
Now, when he decides to clean up his new condo, I’ll get more professional looking photos for you!
INTERESTED IN OTHER WAYS PAINT CAN TRANSFORM YOUR HOME?
- See how I reinvented an old antique in Antique to Modern Daybed Makeover
- See what magic happened just from this: Paint it Black – Door Makeover