DIY Guide to Achieve Your Desired German Smear Fireplace

Gear up as we reveal the step-by-step process on achieving a German Smear fireplace. Now, get ready to revamp your sacred fireplace.

Homeowners and designers have been following the trend in applying the wonderful European style. They adapt German aesthetics to their home, office, and other establishments.

If you want to achieve the perfect home using this look, then your brick wall, brick wallpaper, and entire brick fireplace should follow through.

What better way to do this than to apply the German smear technique? It features a whitewashed and antique look, but still equates to a clean and elegant style.

Alexander and Xavier Masonry is proud of its skilled masons who work perfectly to apply the German Schmear method for your fireplace. Our masons are adept, dedicated, and creative. They are experts in indoor fireplace remodeling and with the application of the German Schmear technique.

With more than 10 years in the business, they will help you achieve the German look for your fireplace. Replace your old and outdated fireplace bricks. Update your old bricks with new ones that are perfect for your taste. All these are done for a very affordable price.

What Is the German Smear Technique German Smear Fireplace | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
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What Is the German Smear Technique?

A German smear is a coating technique using a white or any light-colored mortar. The mortar is smeared over a brick to create a rustic, classic German-style coating

It’s the same as whitewashing brick, but the technique is much more unique. Its uniqueness will depend on the intended design for every home or office.

This technique does not entirely cover a brick. Think of it as a drawing with mixed colors or putting a new shade. 

The person applying it has the freedom to control the thickness or thinness of the mortar. By using the necessary materials, one can manage the mortar’s coverage.

The German smear technique creates an irregular pattern. Aside from the color white, you may also apply other light colors or other shades of white. 

Combine the mixture with the red brick to coat the bricks. With this method, a person could match a perfect interior wall color with their brick fireplace.

German Schmear Origins

This technique is called German schmear or smear because it originated from Germany. Schmear is a German word that means “to spread,” usually butter or anything put to bread. This term was applied to coating a brick with the usual red brick color because one can control its coverage.

It’s almost the same idea, but the German smear technique for bricks requires more than just spreading. It entails grave detail, skill, and creativity.

This style follows old northern German castles and cottages. The main features of the design are irregularly-shaped stones and heavy mortar bridges. The German smear makes use of wet mortar which is spread throughout the brick’s exterior.

The white mortar is not diluted, so when it is applied, it brings a fuzzy look. The style is rustic but still clean-looking and pleasing to the eyes.

How Does It Differ from Other Brick-Coloring Methods?

German Smear VS. Painting the Brick

German Smear VS. Painting the Brick German Smear Fireplace | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
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The traditional method of painting the brick white using the usual paint has a lot of differences from both the German Schmear and the Whitewash or Limewash technique. One difference is with the common painting method, you will only need paint and a brush.

You can achieve the exact color you want when using the usual paint method. If you just want one color, without mixing different shades, then the traditional painting is the answer. However, the common paint would need a lot of maintenance. You would need to repaint it again.

German Smear VS. Whitewashed Brick and Limewashed Brick

The main difference with German Smear, in comparison to Whitewashed Bricks and Limewashed Bricks, is the materials used. With whitewash brick, a water-based paint, like the latex paint is applied to a brick. 

Limewash is a paint made from limestone. It is then crushed and combined with water to become paint. For the German smear, one has to use a white mortar wash with several types of sponges and a specific brush.

Whitewashed and limewashed bricks don’t require a more flexible joint compound for the mixture. It would require more creativity and a skilled technique to mix a joint compound. Hence, many people would prefer to buy a premixed compound or hire a mason. 

It will be more worth it in the end because of the wonders of beauty the bricks could do to your home and fireplaces.

The Difference in Techniques

Another difference is the technique of adding the white color to the bricks. The usual whitewashed, limewashed, and usual paint applies the paint directly. For the German schmear, the color is added by requiring smeared mortar wash on the surface of a brick.

In applying the German smear, there is a need to remove some of the mortar from the brick. This continued removal based on the style required should be done before the brick completely dries. It would depend on the mason’s technique on how they will take time to smear the mortar wash from the brick.

Some masons would prefer a different kind of way of applying the German schmear. They prefer to mix a joint compound which makes the method easier. 

However, one has to be wary of mixing the joint compound. If it is not mixed properly, the mortar would crumble. The intended design and look for the bricks would not be achieved.

The Advantages of the German Smear Technique:

It is very inexpensive.

The materials needed and cost for this German Smear technique are basic and cheap. They only consist of the mortar mixed by a mason or a premixed one bought from the store. You can do-it-yourself, but it would take time. 

Ample skills are needed to be able to mix a mortar correctly. Hence, hiring skilled masons or buying a pre-mixed compound is recommended.

If you prefer to DIY, it is better for you to have an idea on how much does German smear cost.

It is generally permanent.

While you may still remove the mortar wash from your fireplace bricks using muriatic acid, applying the German smear is already permanent. This means that the bricks would not look worn out or outdated even after years. With its low cost and permanent beauty, you’re looking at a great deal here.

The organic and natural look is achieved.

This technique is man-made. However, if done correctly, it will look natural and organic. Imagine having to walk in a fireplace that’s almost God-made or something made ages ago on an antique wall! It should feel classy and expensive.

You can mix in different colors.

The main colors of mortar are white and gray, but you can mix different other shades of white and gray. You can also achieve other shades with it after it has been mixed with the red bricks. Before doing the DIY, you should set a color pattern to achieve what you want for your home.

You get the best quality.

Most of the materials needed for the German Smear Technique have good quality. The mixture should be able to sit well and become permanent. They don’t easily fade or break.
How To Apply the German Smear Technique German Smear Fireplace | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
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How to Apply the German Smear Technique

It is very important that the joint compound of the German smear is mixed well. The mortar consists of cement, lime, sand, and water. These joint compound should be mixed perfectly in the corresponding ratio. 

This way, the bricks would remain intact. There are available pre-mixed mortar wash in the market. Make sure to ask the salesman which ones are best.

The mortar comes in color white and gray, but these two can be mixed and matched with other different shades. It will depend on your preferred brick fireplace color, design, and entire look. 

Make sure that you plan the complete look of your brick fireplace. Jot down or draw the color pattern you want that could complement your home.

The things you’ll need are water, premixed mortar, a sponge or putty knife, a trowel or a wire brush, and some protective gear.

Step by Step DIY Process

  1. Clean the bricks of your fireplace.
  2. Combine the mortar with water. It’s usually 70% mortar, and 30% water. You may also change the ratio depending on the consistency you want to achieve.
  3. Dampen the bricks before applying the mix. It creates more room for the mix to get to its final condition.
  4. To protect yourself from all the paint, it’s better to put on old clothes. You may also put on some rubber gloves and goggles in order not to get dirty.
  5. Smear the mortar wash into the bricks using a sponge or a putty knife. Make sure you spread it all over the bricks, covering the mortar joints.
  6. Before the mortar wash sets in, use either a trowel or a wire brush to remove some it. This will depend on your preference, but make sure you remove it before it sets. It can take between 20-45 minutes before it sets.

Doing the German smear technique to revamp your fireplace is easy. However, if you are not adept at doing these things, it is better to hire a mason. 

You’ll be sure that the mortar wash is premixed and applied to the brick properly. You will also be able to achieve how you want your fireplace to look.

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