Thin Brick, Brick Veneer, Faux Brick, Half Brick, whatever they call it in your neck of the woods, lets get this show on the road!!
First, I feel like I need to open with a disclaimer. I found a lot of conflicting info online about how to actually install brick veneer over dry wall. Some online sources recommend installing concrete backer board, or metal lath to your drywall before you put the brick on. Others said that it was totally fine to install it directly to the drywall if you are using the right kind of thinset. So I decided to ask the experts actually in my life (that do this day in and day out) what they thought. They said that installing directly to the drywall is the way that they do it, and have done it for the last 25+ years. So that is what I did. If you at all have differing opinions or are concerned about replicating this project in your own home, please for the love of all that is holy take the extra precautions that will make it so that you can sleep well at night.
Now that I have officially sucked the fun out of the room we can begin!
The very obvious first step in turning the living room into a loft was brick. Brick it all.
(Just a reminder, this is what we started with)
Installing brick veneer is a really simple project, I feel like the hardest part was not eating a massively frosted sugar cookie at the end of every day. (You’ll see why in a second!)
I bought the brick from a local shop (the same amazing guys that we used at the restaurant). You can expect to pay $5.00+ per sq/ft. If you are in Southern Utah and recreating this project Quickstone is 100% who you want to work with.
Because we decided to install the brick directly over drywall, the first thing that we did was clean the wall really well. Make sure that all of the dust is off the wall and wipe everything down with a slightly damp rag. If you are dealing with grease and/or grime you’ll want to use something more heavy duty like TSP to get all of the oils off.
The next step is to get level lines on your wall. You can use a chalk line, a laser level, or (if you are lucky like me!) you might already have lines on it! The look that we were going for was a little imperfect, having such a large space between the level lines worked out so well (That way I’d have something to recheck everything on every 4 rows or so, but it isn’t row by row perfection.)
Like I mentioned earlier, using the right product for the job is CRITICAL. We used OmniGrip from The Home Depot. Its is a spreadable mastic and it worked so so well.
When you are ready with your lines, the first step is to spread a thin layer of OmniGrip all over your wall and let it dry. This will give the adhesive that you are putting on the brick something to grab to so your bricks aren’t sliding all over the place.
When you are spreading adhesive to the back of your brick, you want a good thick layer. Like a perfectly frosted sugar cookie.
Then, once you have the entire brick covered, use your trowel to scrape out a line in the center. This creates a suction cup of sorts when you are sticking the brick to the wall.
Press it down firmly. You’ll get the hang of the entire process really quick.
The best way to work is to start at the bottom and work in a medium sized section. I didn’t want the brick to be perfectly spaced, so I just used my finger to check the spacing. In the picture below you can see a piece of wood that is the new baseboard. We used this to figure out the spacing from the floor. The brick settled down a little, so in hind sight it would have been better to install this first, but it wasn’t a big deal to cut 1/8” off of it.
It took about a day and 1/2 to get to this point (with 2 people buttering the bricks and 1 placing them).
When we started working on the second wall I decided that I wanted the brick Soldier style above the windows (Soldier style is when the brick stands in a uniform vertical line)
Which meant that we needed to change the brick above the doorway that had already been installed.
You guys. Lets go back to the installation debate. The internets say installing veneer to drywall is a bad idea because you are essentially only adhering the heavy wall to paper.
That sounds absolutely HORRIFYING.
But. There is not a doubt in my mind that installing it directly over drywall is a great option. Check out the brick that we pulled to change the style above the doorway.
That is the paper from the OTHER SIDE of the sheetrock.
To finish off the rows along the windows and doorway we tried a few different techniques.
The first (pictured on the left) was using a brick hammer. Which is basically a hammer with a chisel on one side. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate this technique around a 5. If you are going for rough imperfect edges it is great, but if the edges along the doorway are the only places that the brick is broken it looks a little weird. And it is hard to break the piece in an exact size.
The next technique (on the right) that we used was a wet tile saw and it worked SO well. It was easy to control the cuts and worked especially well for the long cuts along the ceiling.