How to Do the German Schmear...It's Easier Than You Think!

6 Materials
4 Hours

I'm doing a bedroom makeover at my parents house and they have a brick wall in the room. I was going to paint the brick white but then came across the German Schmear. I thought it looked so cool and it gave the brick a really unique look, so I gave it a shot. The German Schmear (also known as mortar wash) may seem like a bit of an intimidating project, but let me be clear, I am not a professional and I have never done this before and it looks AMAZING. It was NOT hard and it was NOT expensive and it turned out great! So take that hesitation, that doubt, that uncertainty, and get rid of it, cuz YOU CAN DO THIS!

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There seems to be 2 different materials most commonly used for the German Schmear; thin set Mortar OR tile grout. From what I've read, mortar is slightly more adhesive, so that's what I used. You can get a bag of either for about $20 from Home Depot.

First thing I did was lay painter's tape all along the painted wall to protect it in case I got some mortar on the wall.

Then before I applied any mortar I cleaned all the bricks. Going over it first with a dry brush and then using water and a scrubby brush.

I mixed my white thin set mortar using a mixing attachment for my drill. I mixed it to the consistency of peanut butter.

I used my plastic trowel to fill in all the cracks and then scrape off any excess mortar. Then let it set up a little bit (for maybe 30 minutes).If you wipe it with the spring right away you'll just end up smearing the mortar around rather than wiping it off.

Then I used my sponge to wipe off the mortar in the high spots. I noticed that the brick ended up drying a bit lighter than I thought it would so keep that in mind. You can go over some spots with a little clean steel brush to take off a bit more mortar after its dries if you want to see a bit more red.

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Billie
    on Apr 3, 2020

    Could this be used in a shower area over tile

    • Krafty Mrs.K
      on Apr 5, 2020

      Mortar would be too porous and grow all sorts of stuff in a damp indoor shower.

Join the conversation

2 of 3 comments
  • Kac48832430
    on Mar 19, 2020

    That looks amazing. I think I might try that on my living room fireplace. We have just red brick and I would like to soften it alittle bit.

  • Lou
    on Apr 5, 2020

    Yes me too, I have a fireplace with red brick that needs a facelift ...

    Thanks for the info & pics

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