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Easy German Schmear Tutorial On A Faux Brick Wall

If you are looking for a cheap way to add an accent wall with farmhouse style to your home, you'll love this DIY brick wall! Follow along on this step-by-step tutorial to see how to create a faux brick wall with a German schmear finish.

When we were planning our modern laundry room design, I had my heart set on a fun accent wall to put behind the washer and dryer. I considered peel-and-stick wallpaper, like this, and Logan is still not on that train yet, so he vetoed that idea….(maybe someday I can talk him into wallpaper somewhere!).

After looking at tons of different ideas, we decided on a budget-friendly DIY brick wall.

And in pure farmhouse style fashion, I insisted on a German schmear (also sometimes called German smear) finish. It is basically just a whitewashed brick look that is meant to look aged and rustic.

Close up image of whitewashed brick wall in background with text overlay that says how to german schmear faux brick panels

Before Picture

Messy laundry room with tan walls, side by side washer and dryer, upper cabinet, window and piles of clutter everywhere

Here’s what we were starting with…..what a cluttered, ugly mess…right?! I’m so embarrassed.

I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and started reading up on lots of different faux brick wall tutorials and ways to create that German schmear look.

The Restoring House provided some great inspiration for us with the idea of how to handle the seams on the faux brick wall. Definitely go check out her tutorial and brick wall too!

I definitely love how cheap this DIY brick wall was! It was less than $100 for us because we had quite a bit of supplies on hand already. For full details on the prices, scroll down for the price list.

Faux brick wall: YouTube Video

I’ve summed everything up for you in a video tutorial and also detailed out the step by step tutorial below.

If you love DIY videos, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

How to create a faux brick wall with German schmear finish: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Step 1: Remove anything from the walls and the area in front of the wall.

Tan painted walls in laundry room with washer and dryer removed and upper cabinet in place
Laundry room makeover in progress with upper cabinet removed and set on floor where the washer and dryer goes in laundry room

In our case – the faux brick wall we were installing was in our laundry room, so we needed to move our washer & dryer and remove a wall cabinet that was hanging on the wall.

Step 2: Cut brick wall panels.

Man using jig saw to cut faux brick panels before installing on the wall

Plan out the brick wall panels and cut them down to size if necessary.

You’re probably wondering…..why in the heck didn’t they finish the wall or make the panels go to the floor? The reason our panels don’t go all the way to the floor here is that we’re adding a folding counter over the washer & dryer and a cabinet with a sink on the left (read more about our modern farmhouse laundry room plans here & see how the folding counter & farmhouse sink cabinet turned out here).

This is just “Phase 1” of our laundry room renovation. There was no need for the faux brick wall panels to go to the floor behind those things, so we cut them down to size using a jigsaw.

You may also need to cut around any outlets on the wall too. For this, we marked it on the wall panel with a Sharpie, then used a keyhole saw to make a small hole in one of the corners, and then used the jig saw to cut it out.

Step 3: Cut brick wall panel seams to fit together.

If you are doing a DIY brick wall with similar faux brick wall panels and finishing with a German schmear finish, my number one piece of advice for you is to cut the brick wall panel seams to fit together like a puzzle with a jig saw.

Otherwise, the seams are pretty noticeable! There would be tons of bricks that would look like they were cut right down the middle….no bueno.

By cutting the seams like a puzzle and then finishing off the wall with German schmear, the seam between the two panels disappears!

Step 4: Hang brick wall panels.

Man attaching fake brick paneling to the wall with a staple gun

We found where the studs were and stapled the brick wall panels into the studs throughout the wall. It really helps to have two people for this part.

One to hold the panel in place and the other to check if everything is level and staple it to the wall.

Step 5: Caulk joint between brick wall panels.

Man caulking the joint between two faux brick wall panels with DAP Alex Flex caulk
Faux brick wall panels attached to a wall in laundry room and cut to fit together to hide the seam and then filled with caulking before applying the german schmear treatment

This isn’t absolutely necessary – you could probably just fill the gap between the brick wall panels with joint compound, but caulk is a better solution because it is more flexible. Learn the difference between caulk and joint compound here!

Since it is in the laundry room and near a window, it stands a better chance of not cracking with temperature changes.

If the gap was filled with joint compound, you run the risk of it cracking over time.

We also caulked the edge of the brick wall where it met with the corner by the window.

If you’re confused about what type of caulk to use and how to apply it – check out our full article of caulking tips and tricks!

Step 6: Apply joint compound to create a German schmear finish.

The joint compound is really what makes the German schmear finish. Grab a putty knife….or better yet a hawk and trowel if you want to work quickly.

You’ll see in the video that when we were trying things I started by applying the joint compound with the small putty knife….and it worked fine, it really did. But it was going to take forever.

So Logan went out and grabbed the hawk and trowel and I think it only took him about 10 or 15 minutes to German schmear the entire wall.

Applying the German schmear is really pretty easy. You just plop the joint compound onto the wall and then scrape it off.

Then let it dry for several hours before moving on.

Step 7: Wipe off some joint compound with a wet rag.

The joint compound wipes off with just simple water, so you can just get a rag damp and wipe off the joint compound to get the desired look that you want for your German schmear finish.

One thing that I did notice because we were using the faux brick panels was that the more you scrape and wipe off the joint compound, the more colored the joint compound becomes.

You’ll notice that it had a slight orange tint when we were done and before we sealed it with the white paint. This is the coloring coming off of the brick wall panels.

That’s the downside to using the faux brick. But for me, it wasn’t that big of a deal because I wanted to lighten everything up at the end anyway so my watered-down white paint did that just fine.

Step 8: Seal with watered-down white paint.

Fake brick wall with german schmear treatment using joint compound that turned orange-ish. Image shows the bottom part of the wall painted with watered down paint to lighten it up and seal the wall. The top portion shows the wall unpainted and unsealed.

Because joint compound wipes off with water, you definitely need to seal your whitewashed brick wall. I used watered-down white paint to do this.

Woman painting fake brick wall panels with watered down white paint to seal german schmear treatment

I mixed about 50% paint and 50% water and brushed it on. I focused mostly on the spaces between the bricks to lighten up the orange tone and then lightly brushed the watered-down paint over the bricks to seal.

If you didn’t want to lighten your faux brick wall, you could apply something like water-based Polycrylic which would seal it, but not discolor it.

Now I haven’t tried this personally and can’t vouch for it (although my Pinterest inspiration, The Restoring House, used this method and it looks great on theirs). I would definitely try it out on a small piece of scrap first to make sure you get the look you’re going for!

Step 9: Trim out the edges of the faux brick wall.

The last step to get a real finished-off look to the faux brick wall is to trim out the edges and any corners with painted wood trim.

For our corner the wall had a rounded (aka bullnose) corner, so we opted for this square corner trim to cover that up.

For the other corner near the window, we used this trim. We painted the trim before installing it with white paint and attached it with a brad nail gun.

German schmear faux brick wall above washer and dyer in modern farmhouse laundry room with window

I’m shocked at just how easy and cheap it was to create this faux brick wall with whitewashed bricks in our laundry room!

Price list for faux brick wall with German schmear finish:

I know you’re probably wondering what I mean when I say “cheap”, so I decided to give you a full price list so you have all the details!

Keep in mind that prices may vary in your neck of the woods and will definitely change (#inflation). We also had a lot of supplies on hand, so I noted those too.

  • Brick Panels (2) – $57.94
  • 5 Gallon Bucket – $3.67
  • Moulding/Trim – $22.37
  • Joint Compound – $13.27
  • Materials & tools we already had
    • Paint, tray & paint brush
    • Nails & staples
    • Nail gun
    • Staple gun
    • Jig saw
    • Caulk
    • Hawk & trowel
  • Total cost for our faux brick wall = $97.25

Looking for more ways to add character to a wall in your house??

Before and after pictures side by side of a fake brick wall added to a laundry room with text overlay that says farmhouse style 0 faux brick wall

Where are you going to install a faux brick wall in your house??

Let us know in the comments below!

32 thoughts on “Easy German Schmear Tutorial On A Faux Brick Wall

  1. Amazing transformation! I always wondered how to do the German Schmear, thanks for the tutorial. Looks very easy to do now that you showed me.

  2. Wow! It really does look like a brick wall. I can’t believe how easy and inexpensive the entire project was. Already Pinned this! Love this idea especially in the laundry room.

  3. Your laundry room looks great! That wall looks like it cost a lot more than $100. I love the farmhouse look and this looks aged and like it’s been there forever. I can’t wait to see the room finished.

  4. That looks really pretty. Are those brick sheets made like paneling? I wouldn’t mind having those in my kitchen-if we ever get around to re-doing it. I love the old world look!

    1. I’m in the process of doing this in my kitchen right now. It’s looking really good so far. The brick paneling was already there when we moved in and I wanted to do something with it. After searching the internet for ideas I found the German Schmear technique and decided to try it. I’m just finishing spreading the spackle now and so far it’s been a pretty easy project. Just messy!

  5. This looks great, a total transformation!
    I’ve never heard of German Schmear before but I love the look, it’s kind of like a whitewash but a bit more texture isn’t it? Very cool.

  6. I just did this project and also had a problem with the compound turning a little orange. I was glad to see someone else had this problem as well. I was thinking I was going to have to redo the entire wall. Does the white wash really hide the orange tint?

  7. Do you think applying a poly or other clear sealer (anti yellowing kind) on the brick panel before applying the joint compound would prevent the brick color from bleeding and avoid the orange discoloration?

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