How to: German Schmear Brick Fireplace

Hey friends!

Man, did we tackle the MOST AMAZZZING home improvement project ever over the weekend. I want to take a moment to thank my sweet husband for letting me talk him into tackling all the projects, all the time.. even when he is just getting back from a mission trip in Haiti- love you babe!

Now onto the good stuff... I assume if you're here reading this and you're in any way interested in home improvement, you've probably watched the HGTV show Fixer Upper. And if you've ever watched Fixer Upper, AND you're interested in home improvement, then you probably got addicted and watched every single episode about 50,000 times. Re-runs just never get old, amirite??!?!?!?!

Any way, remember the German Schmear episode where Chip and Jo schmeared the outside of a house with mortar and made it look super old and antique-y. It is one of my favorite episodes still.

Because of that episode, I was inspired to do somewhat of a similar technique on my own brick fireplace at home. We have lived here for a little over a year and I always knew I wanted to do SOMETHING to this fireplace but never could commit on what exactly to do. I went between several techniques but finally settled on "schmearing" it with joint compound.  

Here is what you would need to achieve this look:
-Joint compound
*We used 6 containers of this product, but keep in mind our fireplace is HUGE, and we have 10 ft. ceilings.
-Putty Knife- metal or plastic, we used a large metal one and a small plastic one and both worked fine.
-Gallon size Ziploc bags *lots of them!*
- plastic drop cloth

How to:

First, clean and prep your brick. Dust it, wipe it down, and make sure nothing is on it that will discolor the joint compound. If you wipe it down with a wet cloth, give it enough time to dry afterwards before you stat applying the joint compound. Then you fill a Ziploc bag about 1/4-1/2 full with joint compound. Press, smush, squeeze all the product to one corner of the bag and squeeze all the air out before zipping it shut! Then the fun part!! Pretend you're a pastry chef or on an episode of cupcake wars and start squeezing the joint compound into your grout lines, ours were very deep so this took up a lot of product. We advise to work in small sections! Once you have your small section done, take your putty knife and smear it around. Smear until you get the look you want. You can discard some of the excess for more brick to show, OR you can use it all for more white. We used more white. This whole project took us about 5 hours!  Here are some before, during and after pics. Enjoy, friends!

 BEFORE! I loved the craftsmanship of this fireplace and it is honestly what sold me on the house originally BUT, it made the room feel so dark. Now, it brightens up the whole house!

This was right after we finished up!

Here is an example photo showing you how Steve was squeezing the joint compound in the grout lines.

This is during the schmear phase, ha!

Here are the after photos after I started decorating it. Still not perfect but I will keep looking for fun finds and d├ęcor to add along the way. We would love to add a huge reclaimed beam to the front for a true mantel.. wish us luck in finding the perfect one, one day! :)


  1. Is there a difference in using joint compound versus brick mortar?

  2. I am wondering the same. Do you have to paint it after? Spacling is a bit chalky. How does it clean?


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