In every homeowner’s journey, there have been…questionable decisions. Mine involved brick and came about a year ago during a three-day long hiatus from school during a terrible snow storm. It just kept snowing and kept being so far below zero outside that school was not able to be in session… so I did something risky.
In the corner of my dining room, there was a bump out that I knew was a brick chimney. It ran from the attic to the basement. It was gorgeous light brick whenever I saw it exposed on the upper and lower levels of my house. I had pinned COUNTLESS ways of how to expose brick on le Pinterest but was just too scared to mess up my amazing house. Well…. During these snow days, I took a hammer and chisel to my plaster wall and just…. went for it! Literally… I picked up a hammer and just started beating the wall.
It was scary and I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing because, what if it was a catastrophic failure?! I used a heavy-duty chisel, a normal hammer, and a sturdy wire brush. I cleared all the furniture out of the dining room and closed off door ways as best I could… But chipping away plaster is a dusty business. Here is the first photo I took once I remembered I should probably be documenting this!
I placed tons of cardboard all around the floor to capture the falling debris and it worked really well! Some of the plaster came off super quickly and easily and some took a LOT of elbow grease and more than one smashed thumb.
The coolest thing about this old plaster from 1929 is that as I chipped away, I actually found the little horse hairs they used to mix the plaster and make it both stronger and easier to use back then. It was fascinating!
Let me tell you, if you’re ever frustrated, take a hammer to some plaster covered brick! It is very therapeutic! You can whack it really hard! Haha!!
I used a very sharp paint scraper/drywall-putty knife (a makeshift chisel) and my hammer to make sure that I had very straight lines going up both sides of the brick.
I am not a short person, but I am not the tallest either. And even with the help of a ladder, my arms were SORE after removing the plaster from the portion of the brick closest to the ceiling. I also had to be SOO careful – I didn’t want to damage the ceiling. The last 1/6 of the chimney took nearly as long as the other 5/6. It was crazy. Once the majority of the plaster was off, I used the wire brush and brushed and brushed and brushed. That allowed more of the brick color to come through and the mortar to come off. However, I didn’t want it to be completely perfect. Then I cleaned all the dust. And kept cleaning.
If you look closely at earlier photos, you’ll see that there is a gap where the brick meets the walls. I ran to my local ACE Hardware (it was closest in the bad weather) and bought some patching plaster. I mixed it up and filled in the gaps and smoothed it outward. This part was quite tedious as I am a perfectionist. It had to look perfectly smooth. It took me awhile and a few coats because I wanted it to look like it had been there always. Once it dried I used a very fine grit sand paper and sanded down the ridges.
I had to clean up the plaster dust again, but then I began to paint and see how it looked. Again – this took time because I kept going back and making it perfect. Another thing I did to make it look purposeful is I took the paintbrush and dabbed the paint onto the brick to make it look as though the brick were emerging from the painted plaster. It worked well.
The not quite finished project, but close enough. You can still see plaster dust if you look really hard. But overall, it doesn’t look tooooo shabby.
Here is a side by side comparison of before I repaired the plaster along the sides and the ceiling and after:
I am very pleased to say that in this case, taking a hammer to a wall all by myself while sequestered in the Burrow by bad weather ended up working out! I love the way the brick looks in my house. It adds another bit of history and character that speak to the age and love of this home.
This is the complete finished product nearly a year after. I love it : )
The Burrow was built in 1929, so it has a semi-creepy, slightly damp 1929…
When I purchased the Burrow, the previous homeowner had fenced off only the back portion…