Whether it’s a modern home, a country cottage, or an industrial-style loft apartment, exposed brick is an incredibly sought-after look. Unfortunately, not everyone has it readily available, hiding behind their drywall and begging for the not-so-gentle touch of a sledgehammer. But, if you’re up for learning how to build a faux exposed brick wall, it will be fairly easy to achieve.
There are two main methods for doing so. One involves using a brick veneer or “thin brick” (essentially brick tile) and the other involves using a hardboard or foam panel designed to mimic real exposed brick. This guide will cover both.
How to Apply Brick Veneer to a Wall
Step 1: Prepare the wall
You’ll be adding quite a bit of weight to the wall, so be sure that the drywall is in good condition. Repair any holes or dents with joint compound, a putty knife, and a sanding block first. Also, remove any electrical outlet covers and switch plates from the wall. Don’t forget to remove nails used for picture hanging, as well.
Step 2: Create a straight (or level) line on the wall
Your first course needs to be as straight as possible, as all subsequent courses will build off it. If your floors and walls are level, you can use a laser level or spirit level to draw a level line across the wall. If your floors are out of level, it’s often better to measure and snap a chalk line against the wall instead.
Step 3: Apply the first course
Using the caulk gun with construction adhesive, squeeze a zig-zag pattern of adhesive on the back of each brick before applying them along the reference line. Check to ensure they’re straight (not necessarily level).
Use the grinder fitted with a masonry wheel to cut any bricks to shape or length for corners, outlets, and other areas a full brick won’t fit. Be sure to wear safety glasses while cutting.
Step 4: Apply the following courses
Once the first course is laid, use the same technique for the following courses. Stagger the joints so the center of each new brick is directly over a joint below it. Be sure to use a tile spacer between each brick to form consistent, even joints. Wait for the wall to dry.
Step 5; Apply mortar mix between the joints
Use the bucket, paddle mixer, and drill to combine the mortar mix and water according to the directions on the bag. Scoop mortar mix into the mortar bag with the trowel. Using even pressure, place the tip between the bricks and squeeze the mortar mix into the joint. Use the jointing tool to smooth joints for an exposed-brick wall look.
Faux Brick Wall with Brick Veneer: Tools and Materials
How To Install Brick Paneling
Step 1: Prepare the walls
Before installing the faux brick paneling, remove all light fixtures, outlet covers, and wall plates from the wall. If there are any dents or holes, repair the brick with joint compound, a putty knife, and a sanding block.
Run a strip of painter’s tape along the floor and ceiling adjacent to the wall. Use the stud finder to locate all the wall studs and make corresponding marks on both strips of tape.
Step 2: Create a straight line
Faux brick panels either come in small sections or large 4x8 sheets. Regardless of the panels you chose, they need to be straight and consistent to look good. For smaller panels, use a laser level or spirit level to create a horizontal line to indicate the starting height of the first course of panels. For larger panels, use a level to create a plumb line 48 inches from the adjacent wall.
If your walls, floor, or ceiling are significantly out of level, it might look better to follow the slope. You can still create a straight line by measuring and snapping a chalk line across the wall.
Step 3: Cut and test-fit the panel
Measure the location of the first panel and cut it to size with a circular saw. If there are any outlets or electrical boxes, take careful measurements and transfer them to the panel before cutting them out with a jigsaw or multi-tool. Test-fit the panel to ensure it fits as it should.
Step 4: Apply adhesive to the back of the panel
While most faux brick paneling is light, construction adhesive or panel adhesive helps keep it secure. Use the caulk gun to squeeze a bead up and down the back of the panel. Be careful not to get within 1½ inch of the edge, or it will seep out when installed.
Step 5: Install the panel
Carefully align the panel with the reference line and any outlets or switches before pressing it against the wall. Once in place, drive staples through the panel and into the studs. If possible, staple into the faux grout lines as the staples will blend in better with grout than with the red faux bricks.
Step 6: Continue down the wall
Align the next panel with the edge of the previous panel or level mark. It’s critical that the seams between the panels be as tight as possible and that the bricks appear aligned, so take care to get this right. Measure for any outlets or switches and transfer the measurements to the new panel for cutting before installing it on the wall and moving to the next panel.
If you’re careful when aligning the seams and stapling, no one will be able to tell that the exposed brick paneling isn’t the real deal. So hang a few pictures, get the room in order, and kick back while enjoying your new faux exposed brick wall.