Hands down, the most talked about element in the Mulberry House is the faux brick wall. Not one person stepping into the dining room for the first time thought that it wasn’t real exposed brick. In fact, after we informed people that we built the feature wall out of 4X8 hardboard wall panels, most of them moved closer to feel it because they didn’t believe us. And, after touching the bricks, people still couldn’t accept that it was fake.
I was inspired to attempt this faux brick wall after pinning a post from Corey at Sawdust2stitches. She includes a video on how she accomplished the technique of smearing the spackling over the hardboard.
I am not tech savvy, and also not awesome on video, so therefore you will not see me give you any live demonstrations on how to achieve the beautiful end result. However, I am super great at taking lots of pictures, so hopefully I can walk you through step by step on how we built our feature wall.
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First off, we purchased our brick panels from The Home Depot. There are several stores that sell these brick panels, I just happened to like Home Depot’s brick colors the best. Any of them should work just fine. The one we chose was the Kingston.
Before bringing the panels into the house, I notched out the bricks so that each panel would piece in together, and give the illusion of a real brick wall. These panels are specifically designed to fit together and have their seams hidden, but we just didn’t want to take the chance of being able to spot a straight vertical line after hours of labor. So, we chose to make notches.
I tested a couple of different tools, but in the end, I thought the jigsaw worked the best. This is the one that I use and it works great. It’s extremely simple to notch out the bricks. Just follow along the grout lines with the jigsaw. It does not have to be exact or perfect in any way. Don’t stress.
The picture below shows why I was inspired to build the brick wall in the first place. Century old plaster walls that we didn’t feel like ripping out and redoing. We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to undertake something new, and create a focal point in the room.
Once we had our panels notched out, it was time to hang them up on the wall. On the first board, you notice that we kept the straight edge of the panel, without any notches, so that it could hug tight against the corner. I forgot to mention that you should save the little bricks that you notch out/off of the hardboard. You can use these later if you have small spots that need to be filled back in. We used little remnant pieces here and there to cover our wall.
Corey (my inspiration girl) didn’t apply Liquid Nails on her brick wall because she desired to have the option to take it down if she changed her mind. We, however, knew that if someone removed this paneling, they were going to be extracting the plaster walls too, because they were in such a dreadful state. Therefore, we used the crap out of our tubes of Liquid Nails.
We laid the boards flat on the floor and applied the liquid nails all over the back side of the panel with a caulking gun, and then pushed the brick sheeting up against the plaster walls. Once we pressed our hands firmly all over the front of the hardboard to help the liquid nails adhere to the walls, we used a brad nailer all around the edges and center of the 4×8 sheets to ensure that those panels were not going to fall down.
I honestly liked the look of the brick wall just like this. But, I had my heart set on the resemblance of an old exposed brick wall. I thought the “exposed look” fit with the feel of the house better than the plain old brick.
When we finished piecing all of the hardboard together (this took my husband some time around the opening into the living room. It was reminiscent of building a puzzle in many areas), it was time to caulk the seams. We used this, and it worked great for us. Again, it was messy, and rather sloppy, no need to be perfect.
As soon as all of the caulking was dry, we were prepared for the spackling. I actually used Joint Compound for our wall. I would just scoop a bit up on my trowel, and smear it’s nice and smooth consistency all down the wall in one big swipe. Working in about three foot by three foot sections at a time seemed to have the best outcome. Don’t get too carried away with too large of a section. It’s more advantageous to work in small patches.
After I noticed that the joint compound was drying out a bit (I could see the change in color and consistency), I would take my trowel, and “rough up” the compound a smidge and smear it all back around so that the final effect would appear rough and old and a bit crumbly. This took me awhile to get my technique down, but once I got it mastered, I really enjoyed the process. I wanted the color of the brick to peak through the spackling, so I was careful not to apply the compound on too thick.
Because spackling will leave a white residue on your hands and clothing if not sealed properly, several tutorials that I read recommended sealing the spackling with a “white wash”, or watered down paint. However, I did not want the appearance of my brick wall to change once I had worked for hours on “just the right look.” So, a friend of mine recommended using a polycrylic. It was the perfect solution. It does not yellow, and gives the wall a beautiful finish. My contractor sprayed it on with a paint sprayer.
Once we had the wall completed, it was screaming for some barn lights. I got these little cuties at The Home Depot. Love them.
I could not be happier with the end result. It gives the dining room the perfect ambience for a fun little dinner party.
Ok! Now go and build your faux brick wall! You can do it! It’s super fun and simple.
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