Rustic, idyllic, elegant or harsh – exposed brick can have multiple faces, depending on what color you have it and how you decorate around it. When done properly, brick walls can be a tremendous statement of style, but they have certain shortcomings that you should be aware of before you get down to hammering off the plaster.
The aesthetic qualities of brick are beyond discussion. Of course, some may find it gloomy and shabby, but generally speaking, well maintained brick walls can greatly enhance the ambiance of any interior and accentuate its dominant style. Brick can make the room feel cozy and idyllic or quite the contrary, emphasize the harshness of industrial arrangements. It can add warmth and rustic charm or make the room look cold and ascetic.
Older homes typically have brick underneath the plaster walls, and if you believe the brick is still in good condition, you might want to restore it. Before you do that, however, make sure you know the pros and cons. Much as they are a really fabulous feature in interior design, exposed brick walls can be a nuisance if the project is not executed with care, or the building has not been properly maintained.
One of the greatest problems with exposed brick in external walls is temperature and moisture control. In the scorching summer, they will transfer heat, and in harsh winters, they may impair heating efficiency. Also, water absorbed through cracks in the brick may lead to mold issues, and as has been frequently reported, to bug colonization.
And even if the wall is not external, or it is external but well insulated from the outside, there’s still a problem of brick dust and crumbly mortar that you have to deal with. Old brickwork might need to be repointed and should always be treated with a sealant if you want to restore it back to its former beauty and prevent it from causing health issues or adding to your housekeeping chores.
A good solution to eliminate the problem of brick dust is to paint the wall. White and light gray seem to be the most popular choices and have the added benefit of making the interior seem bigger. Dark red brick is most dramatic and creates unique ambiance, but it tends to make a room feel cramped, which adds to the list of disadvantages.
If you love the look of exposed brick but don’t want to get involved in major demolition projects, there are still some options to go for. One solution is to use thin brick veneer or tiles imitating brick, but this involves certain “heavy” works, too. If you’re on a tight budget, faux brick wallpaper will do, and believe it or not, they are so realistic today that people will hardly tell the difference unless they come up really close to the wall.
And then there’s a whole bunch of DIY projects you can embark on. People’s creativity knows no limits and if you scour the web, you’ll find really ingenious ways to get your dream exposed brick wall (or at least one close to your dreams) done with pretty simple means. Among them there’s a faux brick wall panel made of polystyrene foam, and white, faux brick wall made with painting tape and interior stucco. Enjoy!
What’s your experience with exposed brick walls? Would you recommend them or are they too much a pain?