Exposed Brick

Faux bricks and cracks make plain beige walls more interesting...

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    This is a great effect for a room where you want an aged or rustic feel. You don’t even need to repaint your walls before doing this effect! The finish on the wall should be flat, and the old standby, “Builder Beige” actually works great for this, but it will work on almost any wall color-- well, any neutral or natural kind of wall color.   
    Look around the room and choose the areas you want to look “exposed.” It may help to find some colored paper and tape it to random areas, just to roughly simulate placement, and make sure you have a balanced look without overdoing it. It doesn’t have to be the same size exactly or the same color as bricks, but it will help to get the idea. Make sure some go around a corner, connect to a window or doorway, have some sticking out from where furniture is placed-- it all helps to keep it from looking planned  and artificial.faux brick corner in pub trompe l'oeil
    I usually paint my irregular shapes with a very thin long paintbrush, in a light gray, watered down so it flows very easily. If you are not that confident, you can draw your outline shape in pencil first. I find it helps to look away from the wall frequently while drawing the line, or draw with my eyes closed for a bit, so it goes in unexpected directions, and never looks too perfect or measured.
    To do the bricks, I make sure to use a level to start. It just looks ridiculous if your bricks are crooked, and destroys the realistic effect. They should be between 2” and 3” high, and 5” to 6” wide. You’ll need to space them about ½” apart to be able to do the shadowing and highlighting between them. I mix up several brick shades on one paper plate, and alternate dipping my brush in each of the colors while filling in the bricks. They just shouldn’t be one flat, uniform color. Leave some of the edges rough and jagged. After filling in all the bricks, decide whether most of the light in the room comes from the left or the right of the area. If it comes from the right, as in this photo, use some off-white to just paint a thin line, sort of lightly and not perfectly, along the top edge and right side of each brick. If it seems too obvious, just smear very lightly with your finger.faux brick in pub trompe l'oeilhat and umbrella in pub trompe l'oeil
    Use a dark, brownish gray to paint a line along the bottom edge, and left side of each brick, using the same technique as the white. Using a small stencil brush, use the gray paint to sort of buff an area about ¼ inch next to the dark lines, as shadows. Make sure there is very little paint on the brush and scrub back and forth to get a really soft and diffused look, getting lighter as you move away from the brick. Use the same method to buff shadows and highlights randomly on the bricks themselves, to mimic the natural texture variations on their surface.
    Also shadow and highlight around the whole shape of the exposed area, so there seems to be some depth, and it looks like plaster has crumbled away. You can paint thin wobbly lines radiating out from the edges to look like cracks have started.
    These areas will require a sealer if placed in a moist or high traffic room. Be sure to use sealer with a completely flat finish, and carefully paint just the “exposed” sections. Any kind of sealer will change the color of the wall paint slightly, so it is usually easiest to just paint the whole wall with the sealer, so it’s not obvious where it ends.
    The faux brick effect would look great in combination with the tuscan plaster faux finish.tuscan plaster faux finishcoat of arms in pub trompe l'oeil