I am SO excited to share my latest project with y’all! Those of you that follow us on Instagram and Facebook have watched my progress over the last few days. I was originally going to title the post “How to install a thin brick wall”, but I realized that there are probably 100 ways and different methods to go about it, so I changed it. Today I am sharing the way I completed my DIY thin brick wall, which was a total success. Here is how she turned out! Keep in mind, I do still have to finish pulling the sockets forward to add the plates, but I couldn’t wait to share. 😉
Ahhhh don’t you love it? It makes me happy every time I walk in 🙂
And, it looks like it has been there forever, which was my goal for the whole project. I think it adds so much character to his room. So, here we go. I’ll try to be as detailed as possible to prove that anyone can do this project, but ask me any questions you may have.
First, let’s talk products.
There are a ton of thin brick products out there. I looked and looked and ended up going with a brand called Coronado Stone Products. I loved the way their products looked the most. I felt they looked more authentic than some of the other thin brick brands out there.
They have a TON of products and thin brick options. I ended up going with a type called Special Used Brick in Tribecca. Coronado sells many of their products through Lowe’s, but they also have a product locator HERE on their site to help you find where you can purchase their product.
This is what the thin bricks look like.
They all come in different colors and textures giving it such a cool, vintage feel.
I used somewhere between 4-5 boxes for this wall which is 12′ x 9′.
Here is my son’s wall before I started. I painted the rest of the walls last week. and left this one unpainted since I was going to brick it. I removed all my plate covers and made sure the wall was mostly clean. I put some scrap boards on the ground because this is a messy project. You can also use heavy duty construction paper which comes on a roll. I also used my level to make several straight lines along the wall. I eyeballed the brick installation, but these walls kept me in check.
I decided to use a heavy duty mortar to apply mine to the wall. I chose to use ProBond from The Tile Shop. I used the same mortar to install my new faux wood ceramic tile floor. It’s very easy to mix, and worked like a charm.
It’s all about finding the right consistency when using this stuff. I chose to work in small amounts when mixing. I learned this the hard way 🙂 I first filled my bucket about half full of water, and then decided to add the thinset. OOPS. It requires very little water compared to product, so I ended up with a bucket of thinset I could barely pick up and ended up with a ton of waste because it cured before I could work with it. Lesson learned. You’re welcome. Trial 2… I added a very small amount of water to the bottom of my bucket and then slowly added the thinset until I could get it to the right consistency. I found this great mixing paddle at Home Depot.
It easily attaches to my Ryobi drill and then you are basically baking in the kitchen 🙂
What I learned here… I first tried to put the thinset on the wall, and then add the bricks. After putting a small row up, I decided it was much easier to apply the thinset to the back of the brick using a notched margin trowel. This will be your best friend!
I just put a layer on the back of each brick like this…
And then smushed it to the wall and wiggled it a bit to get it perfectly in place. *If your brick moves at all or tries to sag, I would add more thinset to your mixture. If it is the right consistency, the bricks won’t move. I started in the bottom left corner with a full brick and then put the next row just above it centered between the bricks below it. I will touch on cutting the bricks below.
I worked my way down the wall doing about 3-4 bricks up at a time. I chose not to use spacers. I wanted the look of a vintage wall, and I felt that a little variation would be great for the overall look.
Only mix as much mortar as you can do in about 30 minutes or so. It begins to cure, and you can’t add water to soften it again. I had two littles “helping” me during the whole process, so I would do a few rows, then check on whatever disasters they were creating and then mix another bucket of mortar. Also, make sure to clean out the bucket between each mix of mortar. It rinses out easily with water, but you need to get the old stuff that is starting to cure out of the bucket before mixing a new batch. Another solution is to use a new bucket each time, but that can get costly 😉
You can see I left the spots where bricks would need to be cut open, and finished all my full bricks first. More progress… You can see my #helper in this shot… 😉
Once I had all of the full bricks in their spots, I started on the cut bricks. I started by using a brick chisel. This is a great little tool I found at Home Depot. You put it where you want your cut to be on the brick and hit the hammer on top of the chisel. I found this worked about 70% of the time, and really worked best when I was cutting the bricks about in half. As I needed smaller cuts, I found that the brick would break pretty easily, so I whipped out my Ryobi portable tile saw. This saw is the BOMB. It’s inexpensive and so darn easy to use.
Mines a little messy sorry! All you do is remove the lid and fill it with water to the fill line.
Put the lid back on and you are in business. Turn the saw on and run the bricks through the saw using your hands to push the bricks through. Avoid touching the blade at all… Obviously. This saw is easier to use than a miter saw people.
Notice how my nail polish is gone 🙁
Yah… this is not a manicure friendly project. I made all my cuts, and filled in all the open spots on the wall. Here she is before I added the grout!
Time to grout!
This is the product I used to grout… Under $5 a bag baby and I used just over 1 bag for this wall.
Back to mixing again. Once again, it’s about consistency. Your grout will need to much much thinner than the thinset was. Here are the products I used for grouting. I mixed the grout in the bucket with water first.
I used a grout bag to apply all of my grout. It’s basically the same thing as an icing bag when you are baking, but much larger. I would put about 4 cups of grout in the bag at a time so it wouldn’t get too heavy. Then, I would squeeze it out through the bag and along each line. I would work in about a 4×4′ space at a time. The grout needs to be thin enough to push through a grout bag. If it doesn’t easily come out, add some more water to the mix and try again. This is the grout just after squeezing it out of the bag.
I would let each space I did set up for about 10-15 minutes and then I would go back and use this nifty little tool to smooth it out a bit.
If you love the look of an old brick wall, it doesn’t need to be perfect at all! If you like perfection, you need to find a different tutorial 😉
This is me just after getting the wall completely grouted… #happy.
Keep in mind… This is messy. And I’m a messy DIYer, so the combo came out a bit like this…
It cleans up easy though! After getting the wall done, I decided I wanted a slightly rougher finish, so I decided to smear mortar over the whole thing. I did this by mixing some of the mortar that was in the bag with water using a sponge.
Then, I just wiped it over the entire wall. I love the messy feel it gives the whole thing. LOVE it.
Here you can see the bottom of the wall has started to cure and lighten up, but the top is darker where the mortar is still curing.
And again, here she is all finished up!
A few questions answered before you ask them…
~Have you installed brick before? Nope…this is my very first time installing any kind of brick. It didn’t require anything more than the right products and some elbow grease… and patience!
~How long did it take? The entire project took about 24 hours split over 4-5 days.
~What about the exposed sockets? Yes, I am fixing the plate covers. Just not yet.
~What about the trim? The bricks are thin enough that they sit just below my trim. Rather than pulling all the beautiful trim off the windows and ground, I opted to butt everything up to the trim and I am very pleased with the results. You may decide to do differently on your project.
~What was the cost of this project? Ummm… As best as I can figure this wall cost between $600-$700 all supplies included. The wall is 12′ x 9′ to help you gage your own project.
~What’s the shelving thing in the pictures? You don’t get to see that yet 🙂 Tutorial coming soon!
Thanks so much guys! I hope I have inspired you to tackle your own brick wall. The satisfaction of starting and finishing the entire thing by myself was the very best part! It truly is a project any of you can do! Promise!