My DIY faux brick wall is (finally) done.
Here’s what the wall looked like before, when it was part of my son’s bedroom:
After he left the nest, I decided to give his old room a makeover and turn it into a guest room/office with a farmhouse industrial vibe.
My husband was onboard with most of my plans for the space. Unfortunately the one idea he didn’t like was the one I needed his help with: the faux brick wall. He liked the pictures I showed him of similar walls on Pinterest. But I lost him when I explained that the wall would be made from paneling.
While he was stewing over the idea, I pulled the wallpaper border down and painted the walls in Dutch Boy Birched White.
Then I measured and did the math to figure out how many 4’x 8′ sheets of paneling we’d need to fill the wall. (Answer: 3)
At this point, I think my husband realized resistance was futile. I’m glad he finally caved because hanging paneling is definitely a two-person job. (Especially when one of those persons has zero construction skills and a deep-seated fear of power saws. 🤣 )
Hanging paneling for a DIY faux brick wall
Before we started hanging the paneling for the DIY faux brick wall, we set up saw horses in the room, so we wouldn’t have to haul the pieces out to the garage every time we had to make a cut. Then we located the studs in the wall with a stud finder and marked where they were.
Hanging the first piece of paneling was a breeze. We just had to trim a little off the bottom attach the panel to the studs.
The second and third pieces were a little trickier because we had to navigate around the window. We used a circular saw for the straight cuts and a jigsaw for the corners.
Here’s what the wall looked like once we had all the panels up:
My husband was underwhelmed with how the wall looked at this point. I was too. But I was confident the wall was going to start looking better once I moved on to the next step. The husband still had his doubts.
Giving the bricks a “German schmear”
To tone down the shiny, red fake bricks and make them look old, weathered, and, most importantly, real, I wanted to cover them with a “German schmear” of joint compound (aka drywall mud).
The joint compound was supposed to mimic the look of mortar squeezing out from between the bricks.
I spread the joint compound onto the wall with a taping knife, making sure to apply it unevenly so parts of the bricks would peek out from underneath.
Then I dragged my fingertip through the indents between the bricks so the “mortar line” wasn’t completely filled in.
The bricks really started to look authentic with the joint compound on them. Even up close.
To fill in the seams between panels, I made sure to apply plenty of joint compound in the gap, but then I tapered it down to a thinner coating as I got further away from the seam.
Once the joint compound dried, I sanded off any high spots and rough patches.
Whitewashing the DIY faux brick wall
Next, I mixed some of my leftover white paint with water, using about a 1:1 ratio.
Then I whitewashed the wall with the watered down paint. Watering down the paint allowed it to go on translucent, so darker patches of brick still showed through here and there.
The watered down paint also served as a finish coat over the flat, powdery joint compound. If the wall gets dirty now, I should be able to wipe it down with a wet rag without damaging the finish.
When I was done painting, I was thrilled with how my new DIY faux brick wall looked. So was my husband. 😃
For about two weeks.
Then the joint compound in the seam between the two panels to the left of the window cracked. 😠
To fill in the crack, I ran a bead of caulk down the seam. Then I painted over the caulk and sanded a bit to blend that area in with the rest of the wall. When I was done, the seam wasn’t noticeable.
For another two weeks.
Then the crack came back.
The second time I filled the crack in with a type of wood filler called “plastic wood.” After more touchups and more sanding, the wall once again looked great.
For a few more weeks. Then it cracked again.
At this point, I decided on a two-pronged attack to deal with the crack.
Prong 1 involved a product called Flex Paste, which is a rubbery substance that I hoped would have more “give” than the other products I tried.
Flex Paste is kind of a pain to use because it’s not sandable or water soluble. But I figured if it actually held the two pieces of paneling together without cracking, it would be worth the trouble.
I applied the Flex Paste with a paper towel, smooshing it deep into the crack and spreading it thin on either side of the seam.
Then I scraped off the excess with a razor blade and painted over the seam again so it would blend in.
While waiting to see if Prong 1 was going to be effective in the long term, I moved on to Prong 2: floor-to-ceiling curtains.
With the seam being so close to the window, I figured I could hang curtains over it. That way if the crack returned, at least it wouldn’t be noticeable.
The walls in this room are 95 inches tall — the same height as the Threshold Blackout Curtains from Target. (Yay! No hemming!) I bought two panels for $33.99 each. (They must have been hanging on the wrong hook at the store, because I double checked my receipt and they were definitely not $29.99 like the price tag in the photo shows).
I hung the curtains from an oil rubbed bronze curtain rod that I bought at Menards for $31.21. The rod adjusts from 66-120 inches. I made sure to extend it out far enough so the curtains would cover the potential trouble spot.
I love how the curtains look. I was originally planning to use a shorter pair that I found at a thrift store (and hang them from a shorter thrifted curtain rod). But the extra expense is definitely worth it.
Budget? What budget?
When I started this project, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to do the room makeover with a ridiculously small budget of $300. I figured I could reuse a lot of the elements that we already had in the space and thrift everything else, except for construction materials. But the crack issue threw that plan out the window.
I ended up spending $100 on the window treatments alone. Add in another $100 for the paneling, $30 for paint, and $30 for caulk/plastic wood/Flex Paste, and — if I did the math right — I’ve already blown through $260. So, we’re just gonna forget about the budget. 🤣 (Good thing I’m not a contractor.)
Crack? What crack?
While I may have blown the budget, I think I may have successfully slain the crack. It’s been over three weeks now since I Flex Pasted it, and so far the seam is holding. (And we’ve been through some pretty dramatic temperature swings that must have caused the wall to expand and contract during that time.) Fingers crossed that it continues to hold.
So what do you think? Anybody else have experience with Flex Paste? Will it hold long term? Should I continue to obsessively check behind the curtain to see if the crack has returned? If not, what should I do with all my newfound spare time? 🤣 🤣 🤣