Interior face brick walls… you either love ’em, or hate ’em. I kinda hate them.
The one lounge wall is face brick, there’s a little face brick pillar supporting the loft, and a huge double volume area of face brick. But I had a plan!
This is a project I’ve been dying to do since we moved in! It is not ALL done, but the lounge is no longer yucky brown dusty raw face brick.
I’m sure the brick they used when they built this house 36 years ago was the cheapest ugliest face brick they could find. It’s a dirty colour, very rough, and the cement/grout is very shallow, so the gaps between the bricks are very deep.
Here’s a before…
and a closeup of the brick. Not beautiful.
So, I decided I wanted to whitewash it, and a create a rustic farmhouse kinda vibe. Rustic, organic, light, bright… I created a Pinterest board and did a bit of research on the best way to do this. I read and watched a few tutorials, and there wasn’t really a “right” way to do this… so we kind of just jumped right in and fumbled through it ourselves over a rather long period of time.
I started by brushing the face brick to clean it of years worth of dust in the cracks. The brushing also disloged some loose cement bits, and got rid of any other weird stuff lurking in the dark bricks.
We bought Super White Tile & Floor grout and mixed it up. We couldn’t find any grout bags, so we had to make our own, with thick plastic bags, with the tip cut off. Peter piped the grout in, and I went along behind him, smoothing it out and pushing it into the gaps. I wore rubber gloves as the brick is really rough and would’ve shredded my poor little fingers. Because the brick is so rough, a grout application smoother thing wouldn’t have worked. It was messy. Real messy. When my hands got full of grout I just wiped them randomly on the walls. Pretty risky move as we really didn’t know how this was going to turn out!
With regards to the grout – I’d recommend a consistency like buttercream icing… it should be stiff enough that it pipes nicely and doesn’t run off the walls, but soft enough that you can push it into the crack easily… as it dried, it became harder, and more “sculptural”.
In the pic below you can see a bit of the pillar through the doorway that we did too.
Once the whole wall had been grouted, we kind of lost steam and left it like this for a month or so.
The gaps between the bricks were still pretty deep, so we decided to do another layer of grout. This was so unfulfilling as is visually made hardly any difference as we worked – but it WAS the right call!
We finished the second round of grout over the Easter weekend, and then I started the actual white wash.
I used Dulux Brilliant White PVA in Matt. I diluted it a LOT! A lot more than I thought I would need to. Probably about 20% paint, 80% water. The brick was also a lot less porous than I expected it to be, and one coat of wash was plenty. I used an old paintbrush and it got pretty wrecked trying to get into all the crevices in the rough brick.
The painting went fairly quickly. I painted a section of about 1m x 2m and then stopped, took an old wet facecloth and rubbed the paint off some of the bricks to bring the original colour out a bit more and give the whole wall a more textured look – rather than just a flat even toned painted brick.
I carried on like that until the whole wall was done, used the facecloth to distress a bit more
Here’s a bit of before-during-after of the pillar
I really really LOVE it! It’s so much brighter and makes the room look bigger, but is still a feature wall and something really different and unique, and it retains some of the house’s original personality. A complete transformation. And it looks really great with our tiles!
The thought of doing the massive double volume wall on the other side of the lounge makes me have a panic!
You can see the gaps are not quite flush with the brick, but it is a lot fuller than originally and so much cleaner.
A little half-and-half comparison!
Total cost of this project (including the small pillar):
8 x 1kg bags of grout at about R55 per bag = R440
1 x 1L Dulux Acrylic PVA Brilliant White Matt = about R150 and we only used about a quarter of the tin.
High micron plastic bags = R200 for a huge pack at Westpack
Paintbrush and drop sheets etc we had.
So, for about onlyR600 we completely transformed this wall! Time wise – we started early in March and only finished at the end of April, but that was because we were busy, and lazy, and and and. I think we will have to seal it – some tutorials advised sealing… but we’ll see. It MUST be a matt sealer, the only thing worse than face brick, is shiny face brick! haha!
It was an easy project, but messy. But SO rewarding – so glad we did it! What do you think?