Our house is an 1889 yellow brick Victorian. Outside, the brick is painted (we posted about that here), but we've long entertained the idea of exposing some of the brick walls inside. This idea seemed especially plausible in the kitchen, where a large part of the space was once a back porch and two of the walls were formerly exterior walls albeit clad over in the 1940's with wire and plaster. However, when we started gutting the kitchen prior to the renovation, we discovered that the brick was not in the greatest shape under its mask of plaster. In one place, the column of brick holding up the laminated beam that supports the second story of the house was in dire need of repair (read about that epic saga here). We were concerned that pulling the wire mesh and plaster from the other wall could weaken the mortar and damage its structural integrity.
So, not wanting to give up on the rich texture a brick wall can give, but not wanting to harm the house, we looked for alternatives. At first, we had thought we might cover up our original brick column (now reinforced with concrete), but ultimately we decided we loved it--it had history, and instead of disguising it behind soulless drywall, we would use it as reference and try to match it.
|Call me crazy, but I think the patina on our original brick wall is beautiful|
|stone veneer on Centro Restaurant exterior |
|A panel of the brick veneer on mesh backing from Soho Brick|
|One of the veneers -- front, back,|
Once we got our brick home, we promptly stacked it up in what will be the future dining room and let it sit there collecting dust and forming an awkward immovable obstacle for a good year. Fellow renovators, please let this be a cautionary tale. Do not purchase a product until you plan to use it. This is a lesson we have yet to learn. Our house is full of supplies for upcoming projects. But we did get started on the brick wall this past summer, and finished up, well, just a couple of days before hosting Christmas celebrations. I know.
Here is a much abridged description of our brick veneer installation:
Since we were trying to approximate the look of our existing brick wall, we made a couple of changes to the installation process. First, the spacing of the bricks on their mesh panels wasn't quite tight enough, so we decided to remove the bricks from the mesh backing and apply them individually. This made the job a little more labour intensive, but gave us much more control over the final result.
|It's a start!|
|Corner pieces for corners|
|The faux (fake is such an ugly word, don't you think?) brick wall, pre-mortar |
|The added nailing strip, cut from an original stud, complete with Thanksgiving turkey|
|The original lime mortar, pale and soft, note inscribed convex 'u' detail|
|Our custom jointing tool inscribed with its maker's initials, GL|
|more of our mortaring arsenal, minus the mortar bag|
Mortaring was a messy business. We used a mortar bag, which is like a giant cake icing bag, and N tried several different ratios of cement, sand, lime, and water before striking on the perfect consistency and colour (lime lightens the mortar considerably).
|the perfect mortar consistency for good flow is quite stiff as shown here|
|wet mortar above, dry mortar, already tooled and ruled, below|
|The original brick right, orangey fake on the left|
|A trial patina concocted from leftover house paint very diluted with water|
Here are two details of the wall as it is today under two different lighting conditions, and with some of our original house trim, stripped, restained, and tacked up. I think I'll go a little farther with the grey patina in places. I stopped just before Christmas because of time, not a sense of completion, and haven't resumed my efforts, yet.
|cool light, but neither quite accurate|
|Another view, more confusing lighting, facing the French doors|
We liked it so much (and had so much brick leftover from our original purchase) that we repeated the brick wall detail in the new half bath downstairs. Final pictures of that room next post, promise. I'll post final brick wall photos when the entire kitchen is finished. We can hardly believe it, but it appears that we're on the final stretch. Our cabinetmaker tells us that installation of our cabinets should begin in mid-February. Yesterday I tagged a slab of marble for the island counter (I'll post about that, too). I'm about to order our sinks and prep sink faucet. It's all beginning to come together. We are excited.