How To: Expose Pre-Existing Brick in Your Home

The accent wall you’d like might require no painting, wallpaper or complicated board and batten pattern. If you’re fortunate, what you’re looking for is simply covered behind a different wall material. Finding and exposing pre-existing brick in your home may seem like a daunting and complicated task, but it doesn’t need to be. Emerge2 can help! There are some tips and tricks you can follow to find that hidden gem behind your walls, while keeping it easier on yourself and your home.

Find the Right Wall

It’s important to determine what kind of brick home you have before you go ahead and start ripping off interior plaster or drywall. Not all brick homes are created equal. If you are looking for brick to expose, your best bet is to do it in a home that is known as double bricked or solid brick. These kinds of brick homes use the brick as structural support for the building. An exterior wall is best because you can be 100 percent sure it's brick by looking at it from the outside and that it is a structural wall and not brick veneer.

Inspect the Wall

Materials: hammer & chisel

Finding a good brick wall to expose goes beyond simply finding it and making sure it's the right type of wall. The integrity of the brick is also very important. Brick that is crumbling or falling apart will not only create a mess when it's exposed, but may possibly lead to huge problems, especially if it's part of the support structure holding everything together.

It's not only the quality of the brick you're looking at. It's also important to make sure that the brick you're exposing is worth exposing. Some brick was covered for a reason or never meant to be seen from the inside of the house at all. If you're going to be making an entire wall exposed brick, you want the brick to be aesthetically pleasing.

To inspect the quality and aesthetics of the brick, chisel out a small section in an inconspicuous place on the wall. Once you've chipped away enough of what's covering the brick, you should be able to get a decent look at what's behind. Check it out and make sure you like the color and that it's in good shape. If it is, you can proceed with exposing it.

Prep Your Work Area

Materials: plastic sheets, painter’s tape, respirator, gloves, goggles

There's no way around it: this project is going to get messy. You can do a few things to try to limit the mess and make your clean-up afterwards easier. For starters, move furniture away from the wall as much as possible. Plaster and drywall dust will get everywhere while you're working, and it's harder to clean big pieces of furniture. Then, start laying a plastic drop sheet below your work space. You’ll want to catch as much on the plastic as possible to protect your floors. Tape the plastic sheet down with painter's tape so it doesn't slide as you're working. It's a good idea to use the plastic sheet to cover any nearby vents as well to prevent dust from getting into your home's heating and cooling ducts.

The last important thing to do before you start is to prepare yourself for the job you're about to do. Exposing the wall will create dust that you don't want to breathe in or get in your eyes, so goggles and a respirator are necessities. And, because you'll be working with a lot of rough, sharp surfaces, work gloves will help keep your hands from getting too scratched up.

Expose Your Brick

Materials: hammer, chisel, crowbar

This is the part of the job where you can be less gentle (within reason). Using the hammer and chisel, start making small cracks in the drywall or plaster. Then, use the crowbar to wedge in between the covering and pry it off slowly. The pieces in the middle of the wall may come off in larger chunks. If there are some stubborn pieces near the edges of the wall, be a bit more accurate with your chisel, and pry carefully so you don't damage the nearby walls you're not planning to expose.

Cleaning and Sealing

Materials: wire brush, water, salt, dish soap, sponge, brick sealant, paint roller

Once your wall is exposed, it's time to clean it up and protect it. This is one of the messiest parts of the project, so don't tear up that plastic sheet just yet!

Take a wire brush and give every inch of the wall a good scrub. You want to loosen up and get rid of any remaining plaster or drywall still clinging to the brick. This will create a lot of dust, but when this part of the clean-up is done, you're left with nothing but the brick you've been working for.

After you've cleaned as much as possible with the wire brush, give the wall a good wash with a homemade soap solution of equal parts water, salt, and dish soap. Soak your sponge in this solution and apply it to the entire brick wall. After letting it soak for about ten minutes, you can start to wipe away the solution with a sponge or cloth and warm water until there is no residue left from the soap. You can also find a brick cleaning solution at your local hardware store.

Finally, you want your wall to be protected, especially now that it's exposed to things that it hasn't been exposed to for years. An acrylic brick sealant is a perfect way to protect your brick from the elements and also water and scratches. Apply the sealant to the entire wall and then follow the directions for the number of coats and drying time.

Once your brick is properly sealed, remove the plastic off the floor. Enjoy your newly exposed brick wall for years to come!

If you need more information or have questions, visit Emerge2. Our team is always ready to help you with what you need. We're here to assist you in any way we can.