How to make a brick wall look old

Written by shelley moore
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How to make a brick wall look old
Encouraging moss growth can make a brick wall look older. (thebigartexchange/iStock/Getty Images)

Making a new brick wall look older can give a traditional and historical look to your home. You can use distressing techniques on both standard brick or brick veneer, which is sometimes called faux brick. Brick veneer is a layer of small, thin bricks stuck to another surface to achieve the look of a brick wall. Either type of brick can be given a weathered antique appearance, for interior or exterior walls.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Plaster
  • Trowel
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Paint
  • Paint stripper
  • Heat gun
  • Brush
  • Safety glasses or shield
  • Face mask

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    During construction

  1. 1

    Place a few bricks in one or two areas a little bit off-kilter if you are actually building a wall. This effect must be subtle, because you want it to look like the wall has settled somewhat, not like the original job was sloppy.

  2. 2

    Break or chip some of the bricks with a hammer and chisel, mainly at the edges before mortaring them.

  3. 3

    Use antique salvage bricks instead of new ones, or include some darker-coloured bricks for an irregular look.

    Plaster effect

  1. 1

    Plaster over part or all of the brick wall and then remove some of the plaster with a hammer and chisel, to make it look like the plaster has weathered away from the brick. This gives the exposed brick an old look.

  2. 2

    Use lightweight plaster, which you can buy in buckets at home improvement centres. Apply the plaster in a smooth layer with a small trowel, deciding whether you want a thin layer which shows more of the brick structure, or a thicker layer of around 8.5 mm (3/4 inch) which hides it. Since some of the plaster will remain, this consideration is important for your overall effect.

  3. 3

    Allow the plaster to dry for at least three or four days. Normally people leave plaster dry for several weeks because they plan to paint over it, and must avoid trapping any moisture behind the paint. Since you're going to remove the plaster, it does not need the extra time to dry.

  4. 4

    Enclose the area with plastic sheeting if the wall is indoors, to prevent dust from reaching other rooms when you remove the plaster.

  5. 5

    Remove as much plaster as you want with the hammer and chisel. Misting the plaster with water first or applying water with a sponge can make it easier to remove.

    Paint removal

  1. 1

    Paint the wall, with the intention of removing most of the paint afterward. Often this is done using white paint for a whitewashed look, although you can choose any colour you like. The amount of paint you leave on the wall is up to you, and you'll want the colour to blend with other exterior or interior design.

  2. 2

    Coat the wall with the paint stripper and leave it for the manufacturer recommended time.

  3. 3

    Remove the softened paint by placing fabric strips on the surface and peeling them off. Stubborn paint areas may need a stiff brush, but not a wire brush unless you are willing to risk some obvious damage to the brick. Another way to remove the paint is with a heat gun.

Tips and warnings

  • Test any method on a small area of bricks first to be sure you like the effect.
  • Paint yoghurt or milk on exterior brick walls to encourage moss and lichen growth, which can give the brickwork an older look.
  • Wear eye protection and a face mask while working on the wall.

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