It’s Week 4 of the One Room Challenge, and I’m talking all about our new faux brick wall, german schmear style.
“Are you sure you want to put the feature wall on this wall…the one with all the windows?”
Hubs tried hard to convince me that one of our other walls–one without 12 window corners and six trim sets to cut around–might be a better choice.
“Yes, I’m sure. The feature wall needs to be the focal point when you walk into a room.”
Famous. Last. Words.
If you missed last week’s update, I had shown a glimpse of the wall–one piece that had gone up relatively easy. I also mentioned that it was all uphill from there.
We removed the trim on the wall, with the idea that we’ll probably add a small piece of quarter round after completion.
I painted all of the window trim on the new windows–and, I am so glad I did this before this install. This would have been a disaster afterward.
In general, these faux brick wall panels are not difficult to work with or install, unless you’re required to do a lot of cuts. Because I just *had to have* the feature wall be the wall you see as soon as you open the bedroom door, there was no way around it.
The standard way of installing these is…
- Take length/width measurements
- Make the cuts
- Dry fit–checking for level
- Lay piece flat on the floor (right side down)
- Apply liquid nails
- Back up into position, moving around slightly to smush the adhesive
- Check for level again
- Use nail gun to fasten in place
Our Reality: With a great deal of corners, angles, trim pieces and extra considerations, we did all of the above, PLUS…
- Carry materials up and down the stairs 1,000 times
- Curse frequently
- Face palm when you’ve cut it wrong
- Roll eyes when arguing with spouse
- Blow out the fuse with power tools
- Curse more
- Measure incorrectly just for the fun of it
We did all of that, but we made it through! For the record, we are still happily married, and I love this wall, but *sheesh* was it a bear. You can see the process we went through, with pictures and videos in my IG story highlights.
In all seriousness, there are some challenges you’ll face with these faux brick walls. Especially if you’re cutting around windows, doors and outlets. You can totally face them, but you have to know what you’re up against.
Some of the pieces are not manufactured level. There. I said it. Bringing it home from the store, not yet cut, just eyeballing it, you can see the piece was actually made at a slant–it’s so frustrating.
Start at the top. One way we made sure there was a uniform look was to keep the tops aligned, level and with a similar look. The rest will fall into place.
Know your pattern. When piecing this together, you have to keep in mind that some of the bricks are whole, and some are cut–meant to butt up against the other half on the next piece. Triple check it. We cut at least three pieces that fit perfectly, but the pattern was off. (Cue face palm.)
Don’t focus on perfection. I know I just said to triple check. But, after the pattern matches up, don’t be so worried about being an eighth of an inch off in your cuts around shapes or edges in regard to how the pieces fit. The “grout” (joint compound) is going to fill in those gaps if you’re doing the german schmear.
Remember the results. It’s hard–in the midst of any DIY–to focus on the endgame, but if you can muster the strength to get through the tough spots, you’ll love the results!
Time for German Schmear!
The whole reason for doing this faux brick wall was to *schmear* it! I fell in love with this technique years ago during an episode of Fixer Upper, when Chip couldn’t stop accentuating the word schmear. Love those two.
You can watch videos of this DIY on my IGTV.
Anyway. I waited for a day when both boys were in school and I thought Revi could either entertain herself with toys, or talk my ear off while I worked. She is by far the most talkative three year old I’ve ever met–you literally cannot get a word in for hours.
I used joint compound for this–I bought the big box, since the small container wouldn’t be enough, and it’s nice to have some extra sitting around for patching little spots in the house where it needs to be done. (i.e. that hole in the wall that the kids *swear* they have no idea how it got there)
Tips for the Schmear:
Get the White Stuff. We have the pink stuff, (joint compound), but I heard others complain about not liking it, even though it dries white, so I opted to buy the plain color.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes! I watched others mix a little water in, comparing it to creamy mashed potatoes. It went on well like that, spreading easily. For that extra “schmear” look, I added some “schmear” the next day, after the wall had dried, with joint compound that hadn’t been mixed with water. You can do it all at once, but I liked seeing the result of it dried before adding that extra effect.
Two Knives! It was really useful to have two “knives” on hand…I used a 10 inch taping knife for large application. A small putty knife, like the one above, was great to use for smaller spots and details. The taping knife, below, got big areas done at once, and especially for the following day of schmear that I didn’t wipe as clean off, leaving those more “covered” spots.
The Bowl of Water. A bowl of water and a dishrag will be a great asset–you can wipe your hands, the walls, the floor, and rinse out the rag as you go. I think I only had to change the water three times over the course of doing this.
Use your finger! This process is super messy, but it will look amazing. After applying the joint compound, I wiped my finger along the grout lines…working in small sections, like 2×2 foot areas, to just add a little definition to the “grout lines” and work out the bubbles.
What’s the Next Step?
Because this is joint compound, it has to be sealed so it doesn’t continue to crack, crumble and leave dust. If you like the coloring and the look, you can use a clear coat. There are matte clear coats out there that will allow it to retain its flat look.
In our case, I’m going to use our “foundational” white that we have throughout our home. The drywall compound is not the same color, and once we paint the ceiling with Falling Snow by Behr, I’m afraid it’s going to appear yellow.
To do so, I will be cutting the eggshell paint with water for 50/50 ratio. I’ll test a spot first. I’m also going to be wiping it right after applying paint, with a dry cloth to leave only residue of the diluted paint–just enough for color. We may end up using the matte clear coat anyway, just as an added layer of protection.
I’ll keep you posted!