We have this one corner in our home that is a random little “nook”, almost like it was meant to have a built in cupboard that just never happened. I always liked the spot, as it adds some visual interest, but wanted to make it “pop” more.
I still don’t know where the idea came from, but as I was sitting at breakfast with my husband one morning I just randomly said, “Sweetie, I want to paint that wall with faux bricks.” He is kind of used to my arty fads, but this announcement did make him blink twice! “You want to what?!”
I started the project that afternoon.
How to paint a faux brick wall
1. Draw bricks on the wall
Draw out the size of your bricks on card. I used two sizes: 20x6cm for a full sized brick, and 10x6cm for a half size brick.
Place your templates against the wall and draw out the outline of the bricks using a pencil. The half sizes against the walls where a full sized brick won’t fit (if applicable.)
Tip: Use a staggered pattern to create a classic brickwork effect.
2. Add Cement Between the Bricks
Paint the cement between the bricks.
I used Plascon’s “Cement Wash” (code Y1-E2-2) and applied it roughly between the bricks.
Don’t worry about going over the pencil lines, these things will get sorted out once you paint in the bricks themselves (setp 4).
3. Special effect: Shadows
This is a very important step and will make the wall look real and 3D. I used a medium grey colour which I mixed myself from some leftover white and black paint. A coarse pigs hair brush is ideal to use for this step. Rub off most the paint onto a palette and paint with just a light coating. You can build up the colour if you need more intensity buy just adding an extra coat.
Be aware of your light source, so as to paint the shadows in a realistic way. What I did to help me here was to shine an electric light from the direction of the light source, while using a book as a “brick”. Check where the shadows fall and then follow the pattern.
4. The Bricks
Paint in the first layer of your bricks. This is the fun part! Choose around 5-6 different shades of brown/orange and paint in the first bricks, randomly dispersing the colours. I left some of the original background beige colour to show through as well, to add extra texture.
The shapes don’t have to be perfectly straight – real bricks are seldom perfectly shaped and a slightly wobbly line will make them look more real.
I used old paints I had left over from previous projects, but the basic colours I went with were light peach, orangy-brown, chocolate brown, peach and a dirty plum. I used mostly Plascon’s “Double Velvet” paint, but any good wall paint would do as well.
Don’t worry if the wall looks rather terrible after this step. The bricks will be too solid and bright to look real, but the project isn’t finished yet!
To the right you see what mine looked like.
The colours are strong and don’t look natural at all. That might be scary, but as you can see when you scroll to the bottom: it will come right.
5. Textures and Splashes: Adding Shading
Using the same colours you already used on your bricks, start add random splashes of colours on all the bricks. Look at real bricks for your inspiration and guide here. I also added in some black smears, with a light hand. I was surprised how much the black took the bricks to the next level of realism! Do use a light hand though, as the black will be very stark.
I used a dry paintbrush and an old rag to add the different colours and textures to the bricks. Dip a crumbled rag into some paint, knock off some of it on a paper (so that the rag doesn’t carry too much colour) and then smack that rag onto your bricks for an awesome random pattern. I love this technique and use it often in my paintwork.
6. Making It Look More Real: Toning It Down
This almost final step is very important if you did what I did, and made your bricks way too stark and bright. I took the same cement colour I used in step 2 and applied it all over the bricks, one at a time. Right after applying the paint I took a rag and wiped most of the paint off, leaving beyond just enough paint to create a softly weathered effect. The result was amazing and instantly took the wall from cartoonish to realistic!
Tip: Be sure to wipe the excess paint off fairly fast, or it will dry and cover too much of the colours underneath.
7. Clean It Up
After applying all the colours and everything my shadow work was a bit damaged, so I took some time to reapply the shadows where the brick colours had covered them. This final step makes all the difference.
Enjoy your new brick wall
We had an architect in the house shortly after this project. He walked past the wall three times before stopping, going back and exclaiming “It’s painted?!” He didn’t really say much else, but later I saw him snap a shot of the wall on his cellphone, so I guess he either loved it or thought it was the most ridiculous thing he had ever seen! One thing is certain – it made an impression.
Allow yourself to possibly fail – the worst case scenario is a lot of fun and a fresh coat of paint over some not so beautiful bricks. That’s not very bad. It’s worth the risk!