German Schmear Brick in 3 Simple Steps
If you love the look of German Schmear brick, but have no clue what you’re doing, then this simple 3 step technique is for you!
This method will completely transform your fireplace from sad to stunning in only a few hours.
So, let’s get right to the good stuff; here is how to German Schmear red brick!
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Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.
How to German Schmear
Step 1: Prepare
- Clean the brick to remove dust and loose brick or mortar pieces
- Using your putty knife put mortar into the grout bag
- Fill the grout bag about halfway with mortar
- Depending on how larger your mortar lines are, you may want to cut the tip of the bag for a larger hole. I did this for my fireplace project. Just be careful you don’t go too big.
Step 2: Squeeze
- Using your grout bag, and positioning the tip of the bag in line with the existing mortar, squeeze a the mortar from the bag over the existing mortar. Think of it as you are outlining the brick.
- Work in a small area of 2-3 bricks at a time
- It doesn’t matter where you start, but you may want to consider starting in an inconspicuous spot since your technique will improve as you go.
Step 3: Schmear
- Using your hands, remove any bigger blobs of mortar (so technical, I know!)
- Next, you’ll use your grout float* to smooth (aka schmear) the mortar
- Schmear the mortar in an x pattern by going from the upper left to lower right, then go from the upper right to lower left (check out the video to see this in action!)
- Spread the mortar over the brick as much or as little as you like and as thick or thin as you like. This is an art, not a science, so do what you think looks best.
- Repeat this process until your fireplace is completely covered with German Schmear.
That’s it! That’s how simple it is to German Schmear brick!
* see the tips and trick section for more on using the grout float vs trowel
German Schmearing Brick Tips and Tricks
- DO NOT use a wet sponge to schmear the mortar because if you do you will lose all the beautiful texture and contrast.
- Wetting the mortar (by smearing it with a wet sponge, or by trying to clean it off the brick) creates a cloudy appearance, that leaves little (if any) of the brick showing. To me, this technique looks more like a lime or white-washed effect. This is different than a lot of other tutorials you may have read.
- For an even more unique look, both the grout float and trowel to schmear. The float helps to squish the mortar for a smoother look, whereas the trowel leaves a more textured finish.
- Clean Up Tip: Rinse everything off outside!! You do not want mortar going down your drain!!
- To clear up any confusion – Schmearing is the same as Smearing. Both are used interchangeably.
- Would you believe me if I told you, it only cost $30 to totally to German Schmear my brick fireplace. That’s the god’s honest truth!
- For your reference, this brick fireplace took me 2 hours to German Schmear the entire surface.
German Schmear Fireplace Before and After
Here is the before and after of my red brick German Schmear fireplace. In my opinion, the German Schmearing, when done with this technique, adds a tremendous amount of character to my living room, and brightens up old red brick so beautifully.
To be honest, even though I consider myself pretty DIY savvy, I was a little nervous about this project because mortar is…well…permanent, and I wasn’t sure what I would do if it didn’t work out.
But! Not only did it work out, but it also turned out absolutely stunning!
How To German Schmear Brick Video Tutorial
If you’re a visual person, then you’ll want to check out my full highlight saved on Instagram. This video tutorial is packed with extra DIY tips and shows you my “x” schmearing technique.
- Watch my how to German Schmear tutorial here
German Schmearing Supplies
All the supplies necessary to German Schmear brick:
You love the look of German Schmear brick, and now you know how simple it is to do. Follow these 3 steps to transform your brick fireplace from sad to stunning in only a few hours.