German Smear and How to Get The Look

Outdated bricks make any home look unfashionable and out of date. Instead of spending big bucks on repainting their exteriors, homeowners might consider an affordable DIY upgrade: applying German smear or German Schmear. As a type of mortar wash, the trendy design treatment is achieved by spreading the wet mortar over the bricks, then removing some of it before it dries. The result is a stunning exterior reminiscent of the old age. Read about the details of the German smear to determine if this technique is right for your home.

German Smear Display

German smudges mimic the look of irregular stone and heavy mortar joints. This style often found in centuries-old cottages and castles throughout northern Germany. This technique is similar to whitewashing bricks, but instead of using diluted latex paint, homeowners coat the bricks with a layer of wet mortar. Mortar adds a grainy texture, creating a rustic and rustic appearance. It also gives the bricks some cover, which softens the rough straight lines that exist in traditional brick walls and creates an irregular pattern. While traditional German smear involve white mortar over red bricks, homeowners can experiment with different brick and mortar colors. What’s more, the German smear isn’t just limited to the exterior of the house.

Pros and Cons of German Smear

While the actual laying of bricks requires a skilled mason, the practical DIYer can apply German smear with professional-grade quality. The process is labor-intensive, but also relatively inexpensive: a 1,000-square-foot brick siding wall requires about three bags of 80-pound mortar mix (about $10 each), which brings the total material cost to about $30. For comparison, hire a masonry contractor. To apply a German smear can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the rates that apply to masons in your area. If you decide to apply the German smear yourself, be prepared to dedicate a few days to completing a small to medium sized home project. Also keep in mind that German smear is a permanent treatment that cannot be removed easily, and it only works on bare bricks. The mortar will not stick to the surface of the painted brick.

Get The View

Mortar, which is used to bond and seal pieces of building blocks, often consists of a mixture of Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. If the first three ingredients are not mixed in the correct ratio, the mortar may fail and crumble. Therefore, instead of trying to mix your own mortar, we recommend buying a pre-mixed one, to which you only need to add water. Mortar comes in two basic color options: white and gray. Coloring additives are available to create white or light earth colors.

Materials and Tools Available on Amazon

  • Mixed mortar
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • 5 plastic gallon
  • Heavy duty drill
  • Concrete paddle bit
  • Water hose
  • Concrete sponge
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Protective glasses
  • Spon nat
  • 6 inch tape shovel
  • Wire comb

Steps to Get German Smear

First you need to prepare the bricks for the German smear. Remove dirt, grease, and mildew by brushing the bricks with a stiff bristle brush or spraying them with water. There is no need to remove hard water stains from the surface of the brick, as this will have no impact on the adherence of the mortar. Next, make your mortar slurry by combining the water with the mortar mixture in a 5 gallon bucket. The standard ratio is 70 percent mortar to 30 percent water, which will give you a peanut butter-like consistency, but you can change the proportions to your liking. 

For a very textured German smear, try adding less water. For a thinner, more transparent texture, add more water. Consider making several batches of mortar and applying it to spare bricks before you start the main project. The blend blender uses a heavy duty drill equipped with a little concrete paddle.

Before applying the German smear, you will need to dampen the bricks to prolong the drying time of the mortar, allowing more free time to perfect the finish. Spray the bricks with water from a garden hose if you are outside. Also, wipe a damp stucco sponge over the bricks if you are working on an interior wall or fireplace.

Self Precaution

Wear old clothes, thick rubber gloves, and protective eyewear. Then spread the wet mortar over the bricks with a gloved hand, grout sponge, or trowel. Work top to bottom in small areas, about five feet by five feet, making sure to spread the mortar over the joints. Before the mortar begins to set (which can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on temperature and humidity) use a trowel and/or a wire brush to remove some of the brick surface. How much you clean depends on personal preference. If you remove a small amount of mortar from the random bricks, you will end up with a muted look, as only a small amount of the original brick’s color will be visible. On the other hand, if you remove a large amount of mortar from the bricks.

Maintaining Appearance

Mortar adheres very strongly to masonry, so your German smear will be permanent once it dries. If necessary, spray the outer brick with a garden hose to remove any adhering dirt or dust. Remove soot deposits on interior brick fireplaces with a brick cleaning product, or an equal mixture of vinegar and water. Don’t worry about mortar losing over time; It is very difficult to remove dry mortar from bricks, and the process usually involves extensive scrubbing with chemicals such as muriatic acid. So sit back, relax and enjoy your German smear for years to come!

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