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Question DetailsAsked on 6/12/2017

Are there any painting contractors in my area who can do the German schmear technique?

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4 Answers


Here is a previous similar question with answer FYI -

It is interesting that (according to an old German mason from Germany who was working on a chimney on a job I was on and who was complaining about the trend getting started in the US as a decorative finish) what started out as sloppy work by Polish and Czech immigrants doing masonry work in Germany after the 1700's/1800's wars in Europe, and became much more common during the reconstruction after WWII (skipping the cleanup phase because of the amount of reconstruction work needing to be done in the country) and is generally considered to be sloppy workmanship in Europe has become a fashion trend here - oh well.

(It was also used a lot in Europe as a cheap slap-dash repair for aged or low quality deteriorating bricks, rather than replacing them as would normally be considered "best practice".)

Note that any brick finish should not "seal" the surface - it needs to "breathe" to release the moisture which WILL get into it from the mortar joints, so while a mortar smear (the classic German schmear) is probably not too hazardous, and whitewashing is not real waterproof (or long-lived) so likewise is not likely to cause major issues, painting to recreate the effect is bad for all but the very rare (usually only used indoors) porcelain brick.

Masonry would be the Search the List category to find a contractor to do this for you - you would have to make a list of well-rated and reviewed ones that look decent to you, then start calling to find ones who do this. I would not be surprised to find a lot of the best reputation ones will have nothing to do with it because they would not want their name associated with the appearance - just like many top of the line countertop and flooring contractors will not deal in laminates.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Interesting question, What you might ask "Is there any masonary contractors or brick masons who performs the German Schmear application in my local area?"

Here's how to do a “German smear” DIY whitewash brick technique:
    Before you begin…have a CLEAR picture in your head! ...Start with clean brick with WHITE grout. ...Prep your workspace. ...Mix your mortar. ...Apply mortar. ...Knock down any clumps with brush


Answered 3 years ago by MrFixItHandyman


MRFixItHandyman made three important points that I think merit emphasis:

1) a Masonry / bricklayer contractor is far more qualified to do this than a painter

2) the normal portland/lime mortar mix used in bricklaying is gray and quite granular and rough and "soft" - this "whitewash" technique calls for a "hard" mortar (so it will adhere and last) and usually a "white" grout though other color variations including tan and brown have been used (though generally with those color bricks as well)

3) though it is called a "whitewash" that refers to the technique (like whitewashing a house in the 1800's - think Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn and the fence), not the material - you do not want to do this with a true whitewash for several reasons. True whitewash is a quicklime (Calcium Hydroxide, also commonly called quicklime) solution with chalk which washes off quick - think the white lines on a baseball field or soccer field, with typically a linseed or rapeseed oil additive to promote penetration and adhesion to wood - which will oil stain the heck out of brick, and the chalk and quicklime will rapidly streak and run and wash off - as well as leaving lime and chalk residue all over trim and windows and plants and such. You want a white lime mortar (commonly hydrated lime) mortar, as he says, commonly applied by sponge or brush and then rubbed out with straw, burlap, rags, wallpaper glue broad brush, or even steel bristle brush depending on the desired appearance.

4) once you give it this treatment, if paint is involved basically chemical stripping or sandblasting (which gives the brick a porous surface so increases freeze-thaw damage potential) is the only way you will ever undo it, so test a small obscure area first for appearance. If only white mortar is involved, then removal by sandblasting works, as does high pressure water blasting (at great risk of grooving and permanently putting stripes or swirls on the bricks) - but an acid wash (several rounds) with normal low-pressure pressure washing will also remove it, so less permanent than a painted variety.

Here are a couple of links with more on the technique - though bear in mind doing it may affect the number of potential buyers when it comes time to sell, so you might want to discuss that with your realtor if that is a concern:

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Custom Painting Professionals in Denver Colorado can perform German Smearing.


Answered 2 months ago by tlorusso0301

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