DIY, Home Renovation

How to Build a Faux Brick Wall

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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64 thoughts on “How to Build a Faux Brick Wall

  1. I love this wall…. I’m curious if you sealed the joint compound? I have read on other blogs that it will flake off?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Mel. Yes, I sealed the wall with a polycrylic. I provided the link in the post. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

      1. We are completely done with our brick wall following your instructions to a T! Thank you! I’m nervous about the top coat- I do not want it turning yellow and I don’t want the wall to be shiny. Can you tell me which finish you used of the Poly???

        1. Yay! I’d love to see a picture. The polycrylic I recommend is water-based, it does not turn yellow, and it has a lovely, matte finish.

  2. This is gorgeous. I am going to buy a panel and goof around with it before committing to putting it on the wall. Thanks for this post!

  3. I love the faux brick. Looks awesome. Could you tell me how many sheets of paneling you used & how much of the joint compound needed. I will be using 2 sheets of paneling. Also where was the caulking used ? Thank You !

    1. Thank you! I think we used 4 panels. I probably used close to half of a five gallon bucket of joint compound. I used the caulking in the joints in between each panel.

  4. Hi. I was wondering why the compound you recommended does not look like same one that is in the picture. Light blue lid in picture but red lid at amazon site. Thanks

    1. I’ve been asked that a lot:). Any joint compound will work. I’ve used several different brands—all work great. I just wanted you to have an idea of what to get. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Looks great, thinking of doing this on the walls going down to the basement. I also love what you did on the ceiling. Is that bead board?

  6. So did you have electrical work done before you put panels up for your barn lights ? And then just cut out hole for the lamp? Thank you !

    1. We actually had our contractor run the electric after we did the brick panels. Our situation was unique because we had the wall open on the opposite side of the brick panels (in the living room)—so it was easy to access the inside of the wall to run electric.

  7. Is roughing up the compound how you got more of the brick to show through? Once you spread the compound can you wipe it off to get your desired look? You done a beautiful job!!

    1. Yes it is. You could achieve your desired look 100 different ways. I’ve received lots of pictures from people who have used my tutorial, and it seems everyone has their own little way of accomplishing their desired look. Have fun with it and send me pictures when you’re done:)

      1. I’m in the process of creating my faux brick wall by following your instructions. I’ll let you know how I do. I’m nervous to say the least🤪 Thanks again!

      2. I put up two panels in my living room. It was so white after doing everything that I tried multiple times dabbing the joint compound with a wet sponge only for it to reveal more red and the once it dried revealed white again. I then used a towel and also light grade sand paper to rub off the compound and expose the red of the brick more. Now I’m done and I haven’t put a sealant on yet but I just can’t come around to liking the look. It looks so fake. Any advice?

    1. Thank you so much! You’ll have to send me pictures of your finished backsplash! I’d love to see it!

  8. Awesome job! We are interested in doing a faux brick wall for a wall in our bonus room that a dart board is on. What is the final texture once everything is sealed? Will the wall hold up to darts that may miss the board?

    1. Thanks, Caitlyn. It’s a rough texture even after the wall is sealed (just like an old exposed brick wall). Even if the wall gets holes and such with the dart board, it can always be “repaired” with more joint compound and sealer. Think of the wall like art…it can always be messed with and changed and still be good. I think it’s an ideal wall for a dart board, because it’s more easily “fixed” than a drywall wall. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  9. Love it and what an adorable house! I’ve been looking for inexpensive options for my kitchen backsplash. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

  10. Wow! I have been wanting to do this in my kitchen nook but everyone says you see the seams on the brick panels and I thought it would look too fake. Your idea to cut the edge is perfect! Thank you for sharing. I will now try my kitchen!

  11. I just love it! You explain every step very clear and understandable. Now I feel more confident to do this on the living room wall (the wall is cement because of the construction where I live all walls are cement). This project is now in my to-do list for October. Fingers cross!
    Thanks for sharing

  12. This looks gorgeous! I want to do this as an accent wall around our fireplace in the living room. Would you be able to tell me approximately how long it took to cut the panels, hang, and smear the sparkle? I’d love to have this in place by the holidays if I have enough time!

    1. Thank you! Depending on the size of your wall and how quickly you work, I’d say it’s doable in a weekend. We finished the wall in the blog post in two half-days. Send me pics of your finished wall. I’d love to see it!

  13. You have inspired me to make a change in my dining room too! I had no idea that the bricks came in sheets! My husband is getting a jigsaw and a brad nailer for Christmas – he doesn’t know it yet!!
    Your home is beautiful and I would love to make more changes to my house!! thank you for posting this!!

  14. Hi there!
    Just finished my wall and I’m loving it!! Curious if you sealed it with a satin, matte, semi-gloss or gloss polycrylic…
    Thank you

  15. I love love your wall! I think i would like to try this in my bedroom as a accent behind my bed but was curious how much this project would vost. can you say how much it cost you, also why did you choose spacking the wall could i just do a white wash to give it the look or are the brick panels flat when you get them?

    1. Each 4×8 panel costs approximately $25. I used 2 gallons of spackling to every three sheets of paneling. You can definitely just white wash, but I think the spackling makes the brick wall look old and more authentic. It also helps hide the seams.

  16. I like that you notched out the faux brick so as not to have a straight seam, as no matter how much we try to cover that it’s still noticeable. Your way is far less so. However, I am going to do one of my walls and when I do, I’m going to first color the spackle that I use in the notches to match the brick as much as possible….. then spackle over the whole thing with the white. I think then the white won’t be so pronounced where the pieces meet, and that should do the job I’m wanting. Great job tho’….. much better than most!

  17. beautiful job! I am wanting to do this look on the section of my dining room wall where there is a hidden chimney anyway (behind plaster). I have always loved this look, especially after my Mom and I used a sponge to stamp faux bricks above her stovetop and they look so real.

    Were your light wires already in that wall, or how did you add them so easily?

    1. Thanks! This house was a complete renovation, so we had to rewire the whole house. The wall behind this one was open, so it was a fairly simple project for our electrician.

    1. I wish I remembered. I started blogging after we finished this house, so I didn’t keep as good of records as I do now. So sorry.

  18. I love your post, very helpful! Thank you! Can you explain notching out of the bricks in better detail? Did you cut in the middle of the grout line? Did you cut the grout line completely off or did you cut right next to the grout line?

    1. I tried to stay in a range from the middle of the grout line to hugging the brick. It takes some readjusting sometimes if the panels don’t fit together exactly right.

  19. Just completed this project, and it tturned out great. My wife is very happy with what I did, so anyone can do this. I made 1 mistake and bought a gallon of polycrylic, not knowing that it spreads very well, so a quart would have been sufficient.

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