Getting the look of the German Smear House

Discover the beauty of applying this technique in every home. Check out these German Smear House design inspirations!

Brick washes like the German Smear are becoming all the rage these days. People love the “antique” and “shabby chic” feel of these looks. 

And it’s not just older homes that are getting remodeled with these styles. Even brand new homes are being completed with these finishes for a unique and ruggedly sophisticated feel.

So are you interested in breathing some new life into your home with a German Smear finish? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s have a look at why you should consider the German Smear look and options for getting that “old world” style on your home.

Boring Red and Brown Brick

Red and brown bricks have their place. They’re a staple construction material all over the world. They’re durable, long-lasting, and add value to your home.

But over the years it can get boring having to look at the same old red bricks. And it’s not worth it to replace your durable bricks with inferior materials.

That’s why a German Smear look is such a great idea. You can completely revamp your home without replacing a single brick. So what are some of the different ways you can get a whitewashed brick look?

Let’s discuss several ways and we’ll also explain why the German Smear look should be at the top of your list.

Past to Present From Red and Brown to White German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: Camille Whiting


One of the simplest ways to revamp your home’s brick is simply to paint it. Painting your brick does have some benefits.

Paint gives you the option to choose a specific color, although for a distressed look most will choose white. However, just like any paint, it won’t last forever. Eventually, you will need to repaint your brick which will add more work and cost down the road.

On the other hand, the German Smear look is much more durable. It uses a cement-based mortar, which is resistant to the elements and simply needs to be washed clean once or twice a year.

Painting a Brick German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: H2OBungalow Home Decor & Home Improvement


A whitewash finish usually uses watered down paint to add some color to your brick without completely covering it over. But just like we mentioned in the previous section, paint doesn’t last forever and it will eventually need to be redone.


A limewash creates a similar effect as the whitewashed look. Limewash is a paint made from crushed limestone.

A limewash can add a touch of antique style to your brick but it doesn’t quite have the depth of the German Smear look.

And since the German Smear look uses actual mortar, it’s perfect for older homes because it actually helps reinforce and repair deteriorating bricks.


The German smear or schmear is a brick washing and repair technique that originated in northern Germany. A lot of its country homes and even castles have this German Schmear look.

Basically, mortar is troweled onto the surface of the brick. Then, before it’s completely dry, some of it is wiped, scraped, or sprayed off to expose parts of the brick. This will give you that rustic German Smear look that never goes out of style.

Aside from bricks, here is our guide german smear stones.


Every home with a German Smear look is truly unique. You could say that the beauty is in its imperfection. The brick beneath adds order and organization, while the mortar wash on top adds character and depth.

Characteristics of the German Smear Home German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: Restyled Homes

That rugged style adds a nice contrast to a modern living space. The German Smear look also works well with dark gothic themes. Its rustic feel blends perfectly with the French country style. And of course it matches perfectly the look of large timbers and rough sawn boards.

That’s why the German Smear look is such a great investment. It looks amazing with such a great variety of styles. So even if down the road you want to change your home’s decor, the German Smear look will still be right at home.

So how can you get the German Smear look for your home? Keep reading to find out.


Applying a German Smear finish isn’t too complicated. That’s why some homeowners decide to tackle it themselves.

Think you want to give it a try? Keep reading for some basic instructions on how to apply German Smear.

NOTE: It’s really important to try it out in a smaller area first. Although it’s a relatively easy technique to learn, the German Smear look is permanent and there’s no easy way to redo it. That’s why a lot of people leave it to the pros at A&X Masonry.

What materials are used for German smear?

The materials you’ll need for the German Smear technique on brick are very common and available in most home improvement stores. Here’s a basic list of materials you’ll need:

  • Premixed Mortar (Something like Quikrete’s Veneer Stone Mortar should be perfect)
  • Several five-gallon buckets
  • Drill and mixing bit
  • Water
  • Several large sponges
  • Several large spatulas or trowels
  • Gloves and safety glasses
  • Wire brush

How do you do the German Smear?

How do you do the German Smear German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
source: Tilley's Threads

First, you need to prep your brick wall. For the mortar to adhere correctly, the brick needs to be clean. For exterior walls, a power washer works great. Interior areas can simply be cleaned with a bucket of water and a stiff brush.

Now it’s time to mix the dry mortar with water. Generally, the mixture should be 70% water and 30% mortar. If you want a thicker coating, add less water, and if you want a thinner coat, add a little more. Usually somewhere between peanut butter and milkshake consistency is just right.

Now that your mortar is ready, you need to spray water on the brick before applying the mortar. Damp bricks will give you more time to work with the mortar before it starts to dry.

Now you’re ready for the fun! Use the sponge, a trowel, or a paint roller to apply mortar to the wall. The method you use will depend on the look you want, so be sure to practice in a small area first.

After a few minutes of spreading mortar, check back on the first section you did. The mortar should start to get stiff but still be wet enough that you can wipe some off with a wet sponge or wire brush.
How long you wait depends a lot on the look you want to achieve.

It’s really an art, so there are no defined rules. That’s why it’s so important that you experiment in a small area until you achieve the look you want.

How much does German Smear cost?

If you do it yourself, it’s a relatively inexpensive project, especially if you have all the tools needed. Premixed mortar is only a few dollars for a large bag that can cover 50 square feet or more depending on how thick you apply it.

If you hire a contractor, most of the German Smear cost is going to be in labor and equipment. If you have a two-story home, then they’ll need to set up scaffolding and take extra measures to protect your home.

Since the German Smear look is permanent, you want to make sure to choose your masonry contractor and find someone who really listens to what you want.

A lot of homeowners trust A&X Masonry for their German Smear projects. Give us a call today! We’d love to see how we can make your dreams a reality!


Still in doubt? Get some inspiration from these pictures and try to imagine your home with the German Smear look.
German Smear Home Interior and Exterior Designs German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: Renovations Roofing
German Smear Home Interior and Exterior Designs German 3 Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: Anthony Wilder and Becki Owens
German Smear Home Interior and Exterior Designs German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: Bob Vila
German Smear Home Interior and Exterior Designs 2 German Smear House | Alexander and Xavier Masonry
Source: American Farmhouse Style

It’s really amazing how much some basic mortar and a simple technique like the German Smear can revive an old home.  

For additional makeover guide or german smear DIY instruction, check out our article.

Interested to see exactly how much a German Smear finish would cost on your home’s exterior? Or maybe you want to start with a smaller project first, like a fireplace?

Give us a call today at Alexander and Xavier Masonry and we’d be happy to discuss your plans and give you a free quote.

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