Breeze block is a sturdy building material with natural insulating properties, but it's not everyone's cup of tea for interior walls. Breeze block adds to the unfinished atmosphere in some basements and garages, but it doesn't lend itself to many of the decorating techniques that are readily used with wood or Sheetrock walls. There are ways, however, to make breeze blocks suit your decor. Before you begin, make sure you've permanently fixed any problems with leaks or excessive condensation.
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Parging is a method in which a surface bonding cement or a product like Hypertufa is spread over the breeze blocks to make a smooth or textured surface. The product is mixed in batches and then applied with a flat trowel and smoothed out or textured with a skip trowel. Some products can be mixed with dyes, eliminating the need to paint the wall once it has dried.
Draping the breeze block walls creates an exotic "Arabian Nights" atmosphere or makes a home theatre seem more like the real thing. Install dowels and brackets around the tops of the walls and attach curtain rings to floor-to-ceiling drapes. An easier method is to screw a furring strip to the top of the wall and then use a staple gun to attach the fabric. Pleat it as you go along so that it resembles drapery instead of stretched fabric. The thicker the drapes, the more insulation they provide.
Install faux stone panels over the concrete block. Faux stone panels are made of heavy plastic and moulded to resemble brick, slate, fieldstone or river rock. Faux wood panels are made of the same material but resemble panelling. Faux panels require little maintenance, are easy to clean, and provide both insulation and increased fire protection. Faux wood beams are also available for the ceiling if you want to continue the rustic look.
Tiling the breeze block walls is an elegant but time-consuming solution. You have lots of options like cost, colour and tile size to choose from. Use light colours in rooms without much natural light. Create mosaics from broken pottery and coloured grouts. Tile will not work well on a concrete block wall that suffers from condensation, but it will add insulation.
If the room you're working in is dark or has a limited number of windows, create shallow shadow boxes to hang on the wall. Install LED string lighting around the inside edges and create a windowpane covering with strips of wood and plastic sheeting. Have a photograph of a pastoral scene blown up and glue it to the back of the shadow box on the inside. Attach the boxes to the wall and hang curtains at the sides.
Mix It Up
Install a chair rail around the room about 36 inches off the ground. Parge the area above the chair rail and install bead board below it. Stucco one wall and paint grape vines, a distant hillside and a doorway to create a Tuscan look and open up the room. Conceal one wall behind floor-to-ceiling wine racks. Paint alternating breeze blocks different colours to create a checkerboard.
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