How to German Smear Brick (with tips and tricks that nobody else tells you!)

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After: 

 (We still need to update our roof, trim, doors, etc. and I will add new pictures here when that’s done!)

 (We still need to update our roof, trim, doors, etc. and I will add new pictures here when that’s done!)

We have been wanting to update our outdated brick, ranch-style home since the day we moved in. I pretty much thought that our only option was to paint it, and was just waiting to save up and be able to fit that into our budget. Then, I discovered German Smear (aka German Schmear, aka mortar wash). There are so many styles of it and methods of doing it - some I really like and some that I don’t. I determined that I was going to learn how to do it to achieve the look I was going for and do it to the entire exterior of our house. The problem was, there just weren’t a ton of helpful tutorials available, so once I figured it out, I decided I definitely needed to post one here. I started with my brick fireplace, moved on to the back half of my house to really figure out the look that I liked, and then moved onto the rest of the house.

I was NOT going for a whitewashed look (though I included tips in my video if that’s more the look you like), but for more of the brick color to continue to show through, outlined with the white mortar.

I didn’t use the sponge method, as that also results in a more whitewashed look, but simply used white mortar, gloves, a mortar bag, and a scraping tool. The entire project cost less than $200, and if you simply want to do a single interior wall or fireplace, you could do it for about $20. Here’s a breakdown of the cost for my project:

(Our home is a single story, ranch style home that is entirely brick and is about 3000 square feet.)

  • 12 bags of white thin-set mortar - $15 each from Home Depot (I will add links to products soon)
  • Gloves - $3
  • Bucket - $4
  • Mortar/grout bag - $4

Our gutters and roof desperately need replaced (new leaks every time it rains 🤣), our trim needs painted, and we need new front doors, so we really wanted to do this project as cheaply as possible to try to save money for those necessities.  Under $200 fit the bill just perfectly! What this project will cost you though is time. Now, If you’re just doing a fireplace or single wall, you can easily do it in an afternoon, but if you’re doing your whole house like I did, plan to break it up into manageable segments and just do it little by little over the course of a couple weeks. At least, that’s how I managed it. 

To be continued...

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Before:

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After: 

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