How to expose brick

The first fired bricks appeared sometime around 5,000 B.C., and they’ve remained one of the longest-lasting, strongest, and most aesthetically-pleasing materials around.

And since the development of brick, it’s been covered with marble or other stone, layered with plaster and lath, coated with whitewash, and most recently in interior renovations of existing buildings, revealed and left exposed.

Brick—both fired and earth-baked versions—developed thousands of years ago across the globe.

Exposed brick brings a sense of warmth, character, and texture to a space. It also speaks to the history of a building, of the hand that carefully laid down each brick, and of a craft that’s quickly becoming less and less common.

Painted brick provides a textured backdrop for artwork, while still revealing historic features, like a brick fireplace.

At the same time, however, renovation experts often bemoan the removal of old plaster to expose brick, citing the myriad of moisture and deterioration issues that can arise—and they’re not wrong.

Exposed brick adds a feeling of gravitas and history to a space.

Most existing brick buildings, unless they were constructed for manufacturing or other industrial uses, would have covered their brick surfaces with plaster and lath to create a smooth, seamless wall. In fact, these interior wythes, or layers, of brick were usually not of high enough quality to produce a presentable, dry, and solid finish.

If you feel like the bricks inside your apartment don’t look as nice as the ones on the outside of your building, you’re probably right. Interior wythes of brick were typically of a lower quality than exterior face brick.

So, how do you appease both the renovation expert and your heart’s desire for the warmth and character of exposed brick? A few simple, but necessary steps should be taken.

Fun fact: the interior layer of brick was often where masons-in-training learned their craft.

1. Remember that brick is porous, and therefore susceptible to temperature and moisture fluctuations.

As a result of these variations, brick (and the mortar in-between bricks), can become brittle or begin to crumble, so you’ll want to stick to mild water and soap solutions if you’re doing any cleaning. Avoid cleansers that contain anything acidic, and only use a power washer if you’re confident you won’t lose half your wall! Using a stiff, bristled brush on your wall isn’t a bad idea either.

An original brick wall in a former industrial space in Brooklyn is whitewashed for a sense of softness.

2. Brick’s moisture-absorbing qualities also mean that you’ll want to find a way to keep the moisture on the outside rather than the inside of your home.

The best way to do this is to apply a sealant or penetrant to the interior face of the brick, making sure it gets absorbed into the mortar as well as the face of the bricks. Most sealants come in either a matte or glossy finish, so you can choose the final appearance you’re looking for.

Original masonry walls were constructed with several vertical layers—or wythes—of brick. The interior wythe was usually of a lower quality brick and craftsmanship.

3. Finally, if you want the texture of an exposed brick wall, but the brightness and freshness of a white wall (or really any other color), painting brick is always an option.

Of course, as we now know, brick is porous, so after cleaning the brick, you’ll want to start with a generous layer of primer that should be applied with a thick roller. Add a few coats of acrylic-based paint, and you’ll find yourself with a solid, moisture-protected, charming exposed brick wall.

Whitewashing or painting brick can act as a sealant against potential moisture infiltration.

If we missed any necessary tips to know when working with exposed brick, let us know in the comments!

Even when painted with an even coat of white paint, the texture of an exposed brick wall still comes through.

The Essential Tools for Exposing a Brick Wall: Hammer.

How to Expose a Brick Wall:

  1. Pick the wall you want to expose (an exterior wall)
  2. PREP (a lot!)
  3. Cut out all the trim.
  4. You precise, calculated blows.
  5. Scrub the wall with wire brushes.
  6. Vacuum.
  7. Sponge down the newly exposed brick.
  8. Fill holes and gaps in the bricks with mortar.

For a deep clean, Hammersley recommends mixing a little water with equal parts salt and mild dishwashing or castile soap. Scrub the paste onto the wall with a stiff brush and let sit for ten minutes. Finally, use a wet sponge and bucket of water to rinse the homemade solution off the wall. No brick under your plaster?

Also, can you use vinegar on brick? Vinegar can be used to clean indoor or outdoor brick. Mix 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water and use it to remove the efflorescence with a scrub brush. After washing the brick wall with vinegar, you need to neutralize the acid with an alkaline solution, such as diluted ammonia.

Likewise, people ask, why is exposed brick good?

Exposed brick brings a sense of warmth, character, and texture to a space. It also speaks to the history of a building, of the hand that carefully laid down each brick, and of a craft that’s quickly becoming less and less common.

What is the best thing to clean brick with?

Mix equal parts vinegar and water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on the bricks and let is sit for a few minutes. Use a sponge mop to clean the bricks. If the bricks are very dirty, use a nylon-bristled scrub brush and put some elbow grease into the scrubbing.

How to expose brick

Exposed brick, with its natural beauty and easy warmth, is definitely a desirable trait in homes these days. From New York-inspired lofts to quaint country bungalows, brick walls often steal the spotlight in every bedroom. If you’re lucky enough to have one (or more!) exposed brick walls in yours, there are countless ways you can decorate while still maintaining the brick’s integrity and rawness.

Embrace Exposed Brick

How to expose brick

As seen in this modern bedroom from Jojotastic, when it comes to brick, all you need to do is show it off. But if you’re hunting for ways to decorate and highlight your bedroom’s brick wall, we’ve rounded up some truly stunning bedrooms that feature it as a design element. And if you don’t have brick? Don’t worry, you can fake it.

Modern Brick Bedroom

How to expose brick

This whitewashed brick bedroom from Cate St Hill is everything we love about minimalistic and modern design. We love the contemporary furniture paired with industrial-inspired white walls. Brick looks instantly chic and modern without a lot of effort—just add a few modern lamps and a side table for a well-rounded and updated look.

Pair Brick With Natural Wood

How to expose brick

Brick and raw wood go together like black and white. This stylish bedroom from Hall of Homes is simply decorated but feels entirely purposeful. The natural pallet headboard and rich wood furniture pairs well with the brick accent wall.

Brick in a Boho Bedroom

How to expose brick

If contemporary isn’t your style, why not give boho a try? This gorgeous bedroom spotted on Simply Scandinavian’s Tumblr is fun, youthful and inviting without coming across as juvenile. Copy this eclectic bohemian look by layering different textures and colors. Either bare or covered in frames and artwork, your brick walls will ground the hippy-inspired bedroom and pull it all together.

Scandinavian-Style Room With Faux Brick Mural

How to expose brick

Even without artwork on the walls, this bedroom from Taryn Whiteaker is visually interesting and appealing. And what’s even better is that this brick wall is a faux DIY job you can do in your own home. The white paint makes it look even more realistic and helps to open up ​the space. ​

An Exposed Brick Fireplace

How to expose brick

If you’re lucky enough to have exposed brick and a bedroom fireplace, like in this bedroom from A Jennison Interiors, consider us officially jealous. Whether in a living space or a bedroom, a brick fireplace is a great focal point for the room and allows you to decorate around it. We love the high contrast blue walls and white brick used in this bedroom.

Brick Wall in an Attic Master Suite

How to expose brick

Blogger Sara Parsons renovated her attic to create a stunning primary bedroom and decided to leave a brick accent wall exposed, and the results are magical. When paired with white shiplap, the brick feels even fresher and more distinctive. If you’re considering transforming your attic, keeping brick exposed is a great way to make sure the space feels warm and cozy.

About This Term: Primary Bedroom

Many real estate associations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have classified the term “Master Bedroom” as discriminatory. “Primary Bedroom” is the name now widely used among the real estate community and better reflects the purpose of the room.

Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to make The Spruce a site where all feel welcome.

The Essential Tools for Exposing a Brick Wall: Hammer.

How to Expose a Brick Wall:

  1. Pick the wall you want to expose (an exterior wall)
  2. PREP (a lot!)
  3. Cut out all the trim.
  4. You precise, calculated blows.
  5. Scrub the wall with wire brushes.
  6. Vacuum.
  7. Sponge down the newly exposed brick.
  8. Fill holes and gaps in the bricks with mortar.

To expose brick, first remove your furniture and personal belongings from the area you’ll be working in. Cover the floor below the wall with plastic sheeting, and put on a respirator, goggles, and a pair of work gloves. Next, begin removing the plaster by chiseling it off with a hammer and masonry chisel.

One may also ask, how much does it cost to expose a brick wall? Cost of Exposed Brick

Exposed Brick Costs Zip Code Sq. ft.
Basic Better
Exposed Brick – Installation Cost $225.00 – $235.00 $250.00 – $265.00
Exposed Brick – Total $415.00 – $475.00 $515.00 – $555.00
Exposed Brick – Total Average Cost per square foot $4.45 $5.35

Also know, how do you get exposed brick look?

12 Stunning Ways to Get That Exposed Brick Look in Your Home

  1. Use a paint mixture to create a brick effect.
  2. Create a faux brick floral centerpiece.
  3. Paint them onto an accent wall.
  4. Embellish wood to fake a brick fireplace.
  5. Build an exposed brick veneer accent wall.
  6. Whitewash faux brick panels from Lowe’s.
  7. Or do the same with a velvet finish.
  8. Redo your kitchen island in faux panels.

Is Exposed brick safe?

Though they may look sturdy, exposed brick is actually quite porous, making it susceptible to the absorption of both dirt and moisture, the latter of which can lead to deterioration and mold issues.

How to expose brick

If you want to upgrade the look of an old wall and remove the plaster to expose a brick façade underneath, a few tips can save time or better your safety. Over the years it has gotten less popular to have a layer of plaster over a brick wall. Here are a few tips to help you remove plaster from a brick wall.

Safety is Paramount

When you remove plaster from a brick wall there will be a lot of dust, so you need to wear protection for your eyes and a breathing mask for your mouth and nose. Have several masks, as they could get clogged during the job if the dust is heavy. You should also wear work gloves to protect your hands. The tools you will be using are sharp and you could get cut or scratched.

Use Plenty of Water to Keep Dust down

You can help keep down the plaster dust by spraying the plaster with water before and during removing plaster from the wall. Do this periodically as you go through the job. You have to be very careful not to breathe in the dust, as it is not good for your lungs.

Put down Plastic or Old Blankets

Before you begin your project to remove plaster from a brick façade, you should put plastic around the area and on the floor. Old blankets hung up may also help block some of the dust. This is a very messy job, so be sure to remove all the furniture or other items, and take objects off walls, or they will get covered in plaster dust. This will help contain a lot of the potential mess and make clean up much easier.

Avoid Flying Pieces of Plaster

You will be using a chisel to remove plaster, so be aware that pieces can fly out unexpectedly. Be sure to keep your safety goggles on at all times.

Be careful when Picking up the Leftover Plaster

Another thing to remember when getting ready to remove plaster from a brick wall is that if you put all the broken plaster in a trash bag, the bag could get rather heavy. Be careful picking it up so you don’t strain your back. It’s better to use a wheelbarrow if you think you will have a large amount of plaster to haul away.

Make a Hole All the Way to the Brick First

It may be easier to remove plaster from your brick wall façade if you first chip a hole all the way to the brick in one location. Then you can use your hammer, chisel, or other tools and chip around the hole. This makes it come off faster and easier because the inner part of the old plaster is a pink color and you can tell where it ends and the brick starts.

Cost of Exposed Brick

Exposed Brick Costs Zip Code Sq. ft.
Basic Better
Exposed Brick – Installation Cost $225.00 – $235.00 $250.00 – $265.00
Exposed Brick – Total $415.00 – $475.00 $515.00 – $555.00
Exposed Brick – Total Average Cost per square foot $4.45 $5.35

can you add exposed brick to a wall? If it’s about being a big wall, use a concrete mixer to make your life easier and just add water. If you already have a brick wall that has been plastered and coated, and you want to strip it back down to the sheer and rough awesomeness of exposed brick, your task will be not as difficult as it will be messy.

how do you chip a plaster to expose brick?

Use a wide bricklayer’s chisel and a masonry hammer to chip away plaster from the brick, working your way from the bottom of the wall to the top. A hydrochloric acid solution applied with a wire brush can be used to remove excess plaster residue and clean the surface to expose the beauty of the brick.

Does exposed brick add value?

While exposed brick does add some value to a home, the cost of installing it into an already finished residence would likely be more than the expected return on investment. You’ll be able to create a focal point in the room, thanks to the variety of texture and colors brick naturally contains.

Exposed interior brick can add a nice, decorative touch to your Brentwood home, but because brick is a porous material and prone to staining, it can be cumbersome to clean.

Standard household detergents alone are rarely enough to clean brick properly, so if your home features exposed interior brick, plan to use alternative cleaning methods instead.

Here is how to do it.

First, find a pair of sturdy rubber gloves to protect your hands from the harsh brick surface and from your cleaning agents. Then, with a dry dish cloth, gently wipe the entire surface of the brick wall to remove loose dirt and dust.

Next, pour a grease-cutting dish detergent into a small bucket. Do not add water to the detergent. Add a small amount of table salt instead.

Next, apply a thin layer of the soap-and-salt mix to the bricks using a cloth and allow the mix to sit on the bricks for 10-15 minutes. Then, with a hard-bristled scrub brush, gently scrub the brick to remove the stubborn dirt.

Lastly, dip a clean dishcloth into a warm water-filled bucket and use the dishcloth to remove the detergent mix from the wall.

Allow the wall to air dry.

Cleaning exposed interior brick is more complicated than cleaning other household surfaces but a clean brick wall can help reduce in-home health hazards and keep your brick in its best possible condition for the long-haul.

Goodwin has been a real estate agent in the San Antonio area for many years with expertise in setting homes for open houses. She has also educated individuals on both ends of the real estate spectrum on how to best buy and sell a home. Goodwin enjoys taking her many years of real estate knowledge and experience and turning it into helpful articles and guides for real estate beginners.

An exposed brick wall in a home can convey a feeling of warmth and character and add texture to a large blank space. It can also be a source of frustration. Although durable, exposed bricks and mortar can flake and crumble and require more maintenance than a plastered or sheetrocked wall. If you’re about to expose a hidden brick wall or buy or rent a home with brick interior walls, these tips should help you decide if exposed brick is right for you.

How to expose brick

The History of Bricks

The use of bricks for building structures dates back to the year 7000 BC. Early bricks were little more than mud squares that were dried in the sun. Using fire to dry bricks sped up the process and also made the bricks more resistant to harsh weather. Fired bricks were also good for absorbing heat from the sun throughout the day and releasing it after the sun went down.

How to expose brick

Today, bricks are commonly made from clay and shale which is then kiln fired. The result is a durable block that can be used to build walls and multi-story structures. Many schools, healthcare facilities, and government building are built with brick. At one time, most homeowners preferred brick for the construction of their homes. To avoid an industrial look, most brick homes have lath and plaster interior walls to create a smooth and finished look. Because builders knew the interior walls would be concealed, they often used inferior bricks on the inside of the house. These bricks had the most defects and were not as aesthetically pleasing as the outside bricks.

How to expose brick

With interior design trends emphasizing an industrial and manufacturing feel, many homeowners are choosing to take down aging lath and plaster walls rather than repair them. A brick wall does add character to an interior and creates an instant focal point for the room. Exposed brick walls are especially popular in modern lofts and can add raw charm to a bedroom, living room, or kitchen.

How to expose brick

Pros of Exposed Brick Interior Walls

Charm

Aside from holding up your house, an exposed interior brick wall is a fantastic focal point. No two bricks are the same, and the fact that bricks still have to be carefully laid by hand adds to the history and charm of brick wall construction. Chips and flaws make the wall all the more interesting.

How to expose brick

Texture

Bricks are loaded with texture. Texture is an important interior design element and can quickly set the mood of a room. Any object with a rough texture reflects less light and gives the room a warmer feel. Texture also adds weight to an object which can help create a cozy atmosphere. Along with having visual texture, a brick wall has a tactile appeal which explains why people like to run their hands over the rough surface.

How to expose brick

Industrial Chic

Industrial interior design is all about proudly displaying features that most homes try to conceal. Exposed pipes and ductwork, lots of wooden and metal surfaces, polished and unpolished concrete. Nothing says “industrial chic” quite like an exposed brick wall.

How to expose brick

Tough

A brick wall can stand up to more abuse than a plaster or sheetrock wall. Although it can chip and crumble, a little bump or thump won’t hurt brick.

How to expose brick

Cons of Exposed Brick Interior Walls

Flaws

In older homes and structures, the bricks on the inside walls are not as high quality as the face bricks on the outside of the home. Most house plans included lath and plaster interior walls. Because the inside bricks would be concealed, these bricks are often chipped, bumpy, uneven, and flawed. Interior bricks were often laid by apprentice masons learning the craft.

How to expose brick

Moisture Issues

Bricks are porous which can lead to moisture problems and mold. Moisture fluctuations can make the brick and the mortar in between the bricks brittle which can cause cracking, flaking, and crumbling. If you have a large area of exposed brick, you may need to seal the wall with a brick sealant. You will need to replace any missing or crumbling mortar and possibly replace cracked or deteriorated bricks before sealing the wall.

How to expose brick

Dirt

Any rough surface is a magnet for dirt. An exposed brick wall can be hard to clean. If the brick isn’t sealed, it can absorb cooking oils and other airborne contaminants. You may need special cleaning supplies to avoid damaging the mortar and the surface of the brick. It takes more than just a light dusting to keep a brick wall clean.

Color

Today, bricks come in many colors, but old brick walls tend to be red. If the bricks have faded, they may look more pink than red. Unless you’re going to paint the bricks, you’re stuck with the color of the wall. Once painted, it’s tough to remove paint from a brick wall without damaging the bricks.

Energy

A brick wall isn’t very energy efficient. Most brick walls are covered on the inside to not only give the wall a finished look, but to add insulation and reduce drafts through gaps in the mortar. Exposing a small wall may not affect your heating bill much, but exposing a large wall or multiple walls is going to reduce the energy efficiency of your home.

When it comes to interior design ideas, a brick wall might not be your first choice. Most contemporary home decor is intended for modern interiors, and a brick wall definitely conveys the history of the room. However, many interior design tools offer exposed brick and stone as wall cover options which go surprisingly well with most modern furniture. An exposed brick wall can be a nice mix of the past and the present or a way to add personality and charm to a room.