Freckles in April: DIY Faux Brick

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DIY Faux Brick

Our house is a track home built in the early aughts. There are pros and cons.

Pro: it's like a blank canvas! So many possibilities!

Con: zero personality. It's the Ann Veal of the housing world.

As I sat feeding my baby at 3 AM a few Saturdays ago I realized I had nothing scheduled for the day ahead and thought, "I'm going to start on my bedroom today! It definitely needs paint. And a headboard! And I think it needs some brick. OMG BRICK YES IT'S ALL SO CLEAR NOW."

The exhaustion of 3 in the morning makes me strangely ambitious. But once it had been thought it could not be un-thought and so I got to Googling.

There are quite a lot of ways to do faux brick- you can do brick veneer made from real bricks cut in half (too pricey), styrofoam (worried about how it would hold up long term, especially with a headboard against it), stucco (messy + I'd have to paint it to look realistic). Fortunately, Lowe's carries these 4'x8' faux brick panels for $26 apiece. They're not very pretty or convincing on their own but they're a decent starting point since they've already got some texture and color variation.

Here's my wall inspiration:

After the planking in the nursery this seemed very doable.

And it kind of was. It would have been FAR easier if The Caboose saw fit to nap for longer than 20 minutes or if I had another set of hands for the whole project. Neither of those things happened so the project had some frustrating moments BUT it all worked out.

I picked up 5 sheets of faux brick paneling from Lowe's and hauled it home in Aaron's truck. The stuff is pretty stinky so I let the panels air out in the garage for a couple days before I got started.

I started by figuring out where the headboard would go and then I messed around with the arch until I found a size and position I liked.

I used my jigsaw to cut out individual bricks from one panel, cleaned up the edges on a belt sander, and arranged them on my paper half-arch to figure out spacing and all that.

I did some math and measuring on the wall (then had Aaron double check my work because I really suck at math and measuring) and used liquid nails to stick the individual bricks up.

The nice thing about liquid nails is that it takes a while to dry so I was able to adjust the arch a bit after it went up. It was a little wonky and I was able to nudge bricks around and get it more symmetrical.

This was the part of the project where I was like, "WHAT THE BLEEP WAS I THINKING." Because that always happens at 10% in. I had to remind myself to trust the vision.

Aaron helped me haul the rest of the panels upstairs and then he went back down to his office and I attempted to get to work. The panels are 4' x 8' and kind of heavy. It was really hard to just maneuver them around, much less get them up on the saw horses, cut properly and installed. I swore a lot. I crushed one of my toes. I gave up halfway through then came back a day later determined to finish the darn thing. More swearing.

Last year I bought a massive roll of brown paper off Amazon to wrap Christmas presents with. Turns out it was also super convenient for tracing the arch so I could cut the panels to fit.

I attached the large panels to the wall using liquid nails and my old friend, the pneumatic nail gun. I freaking love that thing.

At this point I could tell Aaron was getting...concerned.

Once all the paneling was up I gave it a wipe down with a damp rag and did a good deep cleaning and vacuuming. Poor Aaron's allergies were going crazy with all the sawdust from the jigsaw.

For the paint I watered down some cheap white primer I already had on hand, brushed it on then wiped it off with a rag. It was messy work but didn't take terribly long.

The crazy long part of this project was in the grouting. I knew when I chose to do the arch that I'd have to do grout in order to cover up all the cut lines. I made my peace and forged ahead.

I bought a bag of grout from Home Depot, mixed up a small watery batch and started painting it in using a cheap cruddy paintbrush I nicked from my kids' art box. Audiobooks exist for projects such as this. I made it through the complete oeuvre of Jane Austen (minus Emma. Still on the waiting list for that one) as well as a fantastic book about a girl who escaped polygamy while doing the painting and grout. I spent Valentine's Day with the grout. I ruined a mixing bowl when I forgot about the grout. I often dreamt about the grout.

I grouted 90% of the arch when I realized it looked pretty terrible wherever I had smashed the grout in to fill large gaps. I ended up chipping out all the grout I'd already done and using cheap, paintable caulk to fill the gaps. I smoothed it with a damp finger, let it dry, then painted on watered down grout. It was a pain but it gave a much prettier end result.

I let the grout sit for a couple days while I did the headboard and then I finally reassembled my room. Living in a construction zone stinks- putting it all back together felt so very good!

It adds some much needed texture and interest to our room!

There's still a lot left to do (bedside tables, lighting, a bench, crown molding, FLOORING, etc) but we've come a long way!!

This post was featured as part of a Wayfair Homemakers Housewarming party over at Wit, Wisdom and Food!

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  1. WOW! This is so impressive, it looks amazing!

  2. Holy crap, this looks beautiful! I have had that same inspiration picture on my radar for the longest time--I love exposed brick, like, more than is probably healthy. And I'm going to refer to my house as the Ann Veal of the construction world forever and always. So perfect. We are toying with the idea of selling our house this spring, and had a handyman come over last night to give us a quote on finishing up all the remodeling odds and ends that we got too lazy and tired to finish ourselves. And we were saying that we weren't expecting/demanding the BEST, HIGHEST POSSIBLE quality work, just enough to finish it up and get it looking polished to sell, and he said, "Like putting lipstick on a pig!" then heartily apologized for insulting our house, but I was worlds away from being offended. These houses are like the lowest of the low. Ann Veal, putting lipstick on a pig . . . it all sums it up so perfectly. Anyhoo. Long tangent, but seriously, awesome work here, it looks so beautiful!

  3. Ooooooooh!!!! This is so pretty! Love, love, and more love!!!


  4. Wow! This is crazy awesome. I cannot believe how you transformed those fake brick sheets, I would have never guessed that's what you used! So impressed! All you hard work paid off, beautiful!!!

  5. Holy cow, your creativity and work ethic astound me. I barely made dinner when my fourth was little!

  6. it looks freakin' amazing. and reading about the process exhausted me. you super woman.

  7. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!! and you are amazing for doing all of that work!! the grout part really tired me out. way to go!!! and that headboard. <3

  8. I am so impressed with your ability to go from vision to completion on projects! The fact that it's affordable too? Get out. You're amazing, and I can't believe how doable this seems.

  9. That looks SO COOL. You are crazy ambitious and it totally paid off. Love the arch.
    I think Bower Power blog did a project with similar panels.


  10. This is really a wonderful post.

  11. What did you use to cut the panels?! Going to try this project next week!

    1. I did all of it with a jigsaw. I think a table saw would have been better for the really big cuts (would have kept things straighter and neater) but the jigsaw worked!

  12. How did you conceal the seam lines of the paneling? Did you cut some of the brick pieces and then piece it together like a puzzle? I don't know if that makes sense but in some pictures you can see the lines and then others it looks like there aren't any and the bricks are staggered like a real brick wall. Awesome effect in the end !

    1. I didn't, really. I know what you're talking about! The panels are fabricated in such a way that they naturally look seamless if you get them lined up properly. My husband helped me install the last panel and, since he was helping, I didn't pay enough attention and we installed it upside down and it doesn't quite fit. So there's a much more obvious seam line on the right side than there is on the rest of the wall but that was us being dumb. If we had installed it properly that seam would be much less visible.


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