German smear: What are the most important steps to apply?

The Art of the German smear

Any property looks antiquated and unattractive when its bricks are worn away. Homeowners may want to think about an inexpensive DIY improvement like adding a German smear rather than spending a lot of money to repaint their facade. Spreading wet mortar over the bricks and removing some of it before it dries results in the fashionable design treatment, a form of mortar wash. The end effect is a lovely exterior cladding with Old World influences. To decide if this method is appropriate for your house, read about its specifics.

German smear

German smear is a design treatment that uses a spreadable paste called mortar to give brick color a white tint. Originating in Germany, the technique involves spreading mortar on brick—usually a red brick interior or exterior wall or brick fireplace—and removing some of it while it’s still wet to re-expose the underlying brick. The completed look of the brick exterior is typically reminiscent of old-world country manor houses or cottages in Northern Germany.

This technique is different from other painted brick techniques, primarily because it uses mortar instead of paint. Other popular methods of treating brick include painting with regular latex paint or limewash paint. However, it is more durable than limewash and whitewash and adds both color and texture.

Benefits and Drawbacks

German Smear Pros and Cons

German smear can be applied with professional-caliber quality by a capable DIYer, but bricklaying itself needs to be done by an experienced mason. Although labor-intensive, the technique is also reasonably priced:

Three 80-pound bags of premixed mortar, costing about $10 each, are needed to cover 1,000 square feet of brick siding, bringing the total cost of the supplies to around $30. In contrast, depending on the market rate for masons in your area, employing a masonry contractor to apply it might cost anywhere between $1,500 and $3,500. If you want to apply a German smear by yourself, plan on taking a few days to do the task on a modest to medium-sized property.

Also bear in mind that German smear only works over bare brick and is a permanent treatment that is difficult to remove. A brick surface that has been painted will not support the mortar.

Steps to apply German Smear

German smear technique on brick

The steps needed to upgrade any brick surface using this method are as follows:

Foremost things, safety

Before beginning, put on the safety equipment, including work pants, safety goggles, and rubber gloves.

Prepare the mortar mix

To the mortar mixture, add the following:

  • 4 parts aggregate or sand
  • Cement, one portion
  • One part water
  • A few portions of your preferred color of white latex paint for extra texture.
  • Using a power drill, combine all the components to make a thick, paste-like consistency.

In keeping with the 70-30 ratio, use less water or more solid elements if you need to produce a thick texture. Increase the water content or reduce the other ingredients for a thinner, clearer consistency.

To choose the mortar mix consistency you prefer most, test the different options on a small batch of extra bricks. You can buy premixed mortar from your neighborhood hardware shop if you’re unsure about anything.

It is essential to experiment with several combinations until you discover the one that works for you because the color of the completed surface relies on the precise composition of your mix.

Examine and repair the brick surface

Check to see if the bricks are painted.

If such is the case, you must first remove the paint, which is a difficult operation.

The surface must be spotless and devoid of any stains caused by grease, mildew, or soot. If you’re outside, you may easily remove accumulated dirt by using a power washer or garden hose. If not, you may remove any dust from a fireplace or other interior structure using a clean, moist sponge or wire brush.

Use specialized brick-cleaning chemicals for dealing with soot deposits. Alternatively, you might use a do-it-yourself method and clean the bricks with a mixture of water and vinegar.

Hard water stains won’t need to be treated since they will be completely hidden by the time your German smear dries.

Before applying the smear, any fractures must be repaired. A trowel and a mortar mixture can be used for this. If there are any challenging flaws, don’t worry; you’ll fix them in the next phase. You may begin applying it when the mortar has dry.

Apply the first coat

Pour water over the whole brick surface, being sure to get into any crevices you missed in the previous stage. You can make use of a garden hose if you’re outside. However, if you’re inside the house, a sponge that has been dampened with water will do.

When applying the mortar mixture uniformly, use a trowel or brush. Before beginning to apply it, dab the brush in some water.

Make careful to coat every brick well and to cover the whole brick surface.

Distribute the mortar in little pieces, working your way from top to bottom.

As soon as the mortar becomes firm but not dry, wait 10 to 20 minutes. To get rid of extra mortar, use a wire brush or a clean, moist sponge.

Any residual mud or water should be removed with a dry towel or mop because it will soon dry up. If you want your brick surface to have an additional texture at this point, you may also apply a little quantity of latex paint.

This initial coat should dry overnight.

Scrub the area

After the mortar has dried, use a wire brush to smooth the surface.

If there are any loose brick fragments, you may also remove them using a hammer and chisel. Since it’s simple to harm the brick surface while doing this, exercise caution.

Reapply a new coating of mortar

Re-do steps 4-5.

Give the brick surface a day or two to dry.

To prevent fading and staining, apply a finishing coat by repeating steps 4-5 or by using a clear sealer.

Take pleasure with your new German smear brick surface.

Substantial Questions

substantial questions about German Smear

What kind of binder is best for my project to renovate my house?

For any home repair job, you can use any sort of mortar mixture, including lime-based mortar, high-strength mortar, and regular Portland cement mortar. Just be sure to read the product label to get the ideal combination for your requirements.

A German smear is sealed, right?

It doesn’t need to be sealed. Though it’s not essential, some people do it as an additional degree of security.

If it is cracking, what should I do?

It has to be fixed right away if you think it could be cracked to prevent further harm. Ask your contractor to examine your wall and identify the precise location of the issue, so they can decide which materials to utilize for restoration. A fresh mortar coat should usually do the trick.

How may a German stain be eliminated?

A wire brush or a trowel can be used to scrape off a German smear. You might need to remove it with the use of muriatic acid once it has fully healed.
The best course of action is to ensure that it is completed correctly the first time because it is so permanent.

Why is my Schmear on German cracking?

– The mortar wasn’t applied or blended correctly.
– Over time, the atmosphere at home changes significantly.
– Your brick lacks the durability required to support a substantial volume of mortar applied in a German smear.
– You did not install enough reinforcing bars on the external walls.

Is harmful to brick?

German smear is rather good for brick. In actuality, it’s a very efficient technique to maintain your brick wall and shield it from moisture damage. Additionally, it offers your house a distinctive appearance that other coating techniques cannot.
The only drawback is that replacing the bricks would be simpler if you later change your mind because it would be challenging to remove the German stain.

Can I paint my brick house using standard paint?

No doubt. Bricks may be decorated with nearly anything, including paint and stencils. Your choice and the style you wish to adopt will determine your decision.
Make sure, nevertheless, that this remedy is also long-lasting. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself often removing the surface treatment.

Will stop moisture from entering my external walls?

Absolutely. A water-repellent German smear substance is employed in the procedure. As a result, even if you reside in a high-humidity location, you can anticipate that your external wall won’t sustain any harm as a result of normal moisture levels.


The German Smear finish’s ease of maintenance is one of its many wonderful features. Just frequently spritz or wash it clean with water to get rid of dirt and dust.

I’m done now! It will endure for a very long period, in contrast, to paint, which could need to be repainted every few years. Do not hesitate and start now.