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exposed brick industrial chic living room

Interior brick walls are beautiful. Care for them before they crumble with this short, handy care guide.

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A little while ago I wrote a post about how to get the look of a brick wall without having to have an actual brick wall in your home. But what if you DO have brick walls and want to leave them exposed in your home?

Well, brick walls aren’t magic: you still need to care for them if you want them to stay beautiful and clean. Not sure where to start? Here’s a short care guide for interior brick walls.

First things first: cleaning

Before you do anything else with your wall, you should start by cleaning it. Because brick is porous and can crumble easily (especially if it’s old), keep it gentle with a mix of water and vinegar. Stronger cleaners might damage the brick irreparably.

Always make sure to try your cleaning mix on an inconspicuous part of the wall before taking care of the rest. A small spot near the floor will do just fine. Spray your cleaner lightly on the way and rub with a towel. Get rid of stubborn spots with a coarse bristle brush, but do so gently to avoid destroying the brick.

Wall in the bathroom? Check that grout

Before you do anything with a brick wall in the bathroom, you need to make sure the grout is in good condition to repel moisture and other bathroom-related problems. If the grout is worn away or in bad condition, you should remove the current grout to 3/4 of an inch deep and refill the space with new mortar.

Without this essential step, you risk damaging your wall even further because of the humidity in the bathroom. Badly grouted and unsealed walls can become a breeding ground for mold–the last thing you want in a brick wall!

Industrial Bathroom by North West Kitchen Designers & Remodelers bulthaup by Kitchen Architecture

Seal up that wall

You can easily preserve the beauty of your wall and prevent things like crumbling, dust and even mites with the application of a brick sealant.

There are two types of sealants available: shiny finish for a subtly reflective surface (perfect for smaller spaces and narrow corridors) or matte finish for that authentic brick look. Taking the time to apply a sealant will ensure that your brick wall will look nice for years to come.

Finishing with paint

If you like your wall as is, then don’t touch it. Natural brick walls have plenty of style. But if you’d rather have a wall that matches your decor better, you can always finish it with different painting techniques.

  • White paint: A full coat of white paint is a popular finish for brick. It smoothes the contrast between grout and brick as well as between brick and the ceiling. It looks modern and minimalistic, and is especially nice in a bedroom.
  • Whitewashing: This technique involves using a mix of white paint and water to make it look like the paint has been stripped from the wall through the years. It looks retro and industrial, and you can control how much brick gets covered.
  • Colored paint: Colored brick walls are a trend, and they’re very cool and modern. It’s not for the faint of heart (stripping paint from brick is a complicated process), but if you have the courage to dare, it can look very attractive.
  • Stain: Just like wood, you can stain brick to give it a darker color. (Make sure you stain BEFORE you apply the sealant, in this case.) It makes the wall more dramatic but also older, as brick gets darker with age. Leave a few bricks in their original shade for visual interest.

Contemporary Dining Room by Melbourne Building Designers and Drafters Maxa Design

Love your walls

I love brick walls. They’re warm and have so much character. I don’t have one in my home, but I love going to places that have them, like my favorite coffee shop. I hope these places take good care of their walls, because I would hate to see them covered with something else!

How do you take care of your brick walls? Any tips or ideas on how to make them more beautiful and last longer? Let us know in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.