About The German Smear Fireplace And How to Make it

Nowadays, German housing is back to use an unfashionable and outdated look style. It applies called smear technique, a kind of mortar wash, one of modern design which use the technique by spraying wet mortar over the bricks, then wiping several parts before it dries. It brings the fascinating look which recall the old style of home. The German smear appearing is irregular bricks or stones with thick mortar joints gives the image old centuries home or cottages in northern Germany.

german smear fireplace design

Then, we will focus on German smear fireplace which basically follow the German smear home design in common because the brick fireplace is a such a stand out in a home. It can add the perfect amount of character to any room, but they often look more outdated.

The German smear fireplace can be of brick material. It is usually placed in living room, but it also may in family room or dining room, even in bedroom. German smear brick fireplace was a solution to brighten and warming the room. It can be whitewash, doesn’t fully cover the brick to give the modern touch of fireplace design, there is also can use mortar wash, which strategically decors the mortar and cement mixture spreading across the brick.

Here, how to German smear brick fireplace:

Material needed:

  • Satin wall paint
  • Paint brus
  • Plastic dropcloths
  • Painters tape
  • Vacuum


  1. First, clean the bricks from dust
  2. Clean another material such as mantel, firebox, floor with plastic drop cloths and painters tape.
  3. Then, dip the paint brush into the paint.
  4. Next, run the brush tip over the mortar surrounding a brick, generously applying paint.
  5. Once the mortar is covered with paint, take the brush (without adding paint) and from the mortar and across the brick. This smears the paint over the face of the brick, hence the name is “German Schmear.”
  6. Finally, repeat steps 3-5 until all of the mortar on the fireplace is covered. If you aren’t satisfied with the coverage, apply a second coat.

How To Make It

make over german smear fireplace

When you begin to think how to update the ugly brick fireplace in your house without demolishing everything and starting fresh, then, here they are. Personal delight is changed for the times. What we love today is movable and changeable, including the impression of the smear fireplace, so, better to avoid using permanent material in updating the fireplace, for the model, color, placing or the size.

The very early step of remaking the fireplace is cleaning the object. You have to remove any contaminant from the fireplace such as dust, candle, ash, and soot. If the surface is not clean you may have a difficult time getting the paint to adhere to the brick. The second step is protecting with painter’s tape, then schmear one small area at a time using a foam brush fill in the brick mortar areas with the pain, then fill in the brick area. Next step is schmearing on a second coat. after painting the first coat of old paint, you will wait at least 8 hours before applying the second coat.

The next step is sanding the brick using palm or detail sander. Having a detail sander is super helpful. Use some detain sander attachment to hit smaller concentrated area in the center of the brick. Make sure you are wearing a particle mask and safety glasses to keep the sanding dust out of your eyes.

diy german smear fireplace

Then, clean fireplace brick again. When sanding process, it will create a lot of dust, including brick dust. The sand away some of the brick itself and the dark brick in beginning will move to pink, so you should wipe it down with a sealer that will restore the color of the brick. Before sealing process, it needs to vacuum all the sanding dust and wipe down all the brick with a wet rag.

Afterwards, to clean the brick and take its color back from dust of sanding process, you should wipe all area of the brick using brick sealer. This process will protect the brick from staining and wear in the future.

The last step is decorating your fireplace and enjoy.

Brick update technique defined

  • German schmear colors the mortar in white or light to schmear the brick to get the rustic and old style of European finish. In German Schmear technique, it doesn’t cover all over the bricks, you should take a control the standard mortar on the bricks properly. German smear has same definition with German schmear.
  • Mortar wash is painting your brick with watered down latex paint. Depending on how much coverage you want on the brick, you can water down the pant more or less. The more watered down the paint, the more of your original brick will show through.
  • Limewash is a technique to paint the bricks using limewash which basically is a speciall paint technique. The limewash is made from slaked lime. The limewash is almost similar with whitewash gives more original brick and have more natural look than the whitewashing method.
  • Painted brick. Painting brick with regular old latex paint is not only possible, but it can look great. This is basically identical to a whitewash except the paint is full strength/ not watered down.

German smear fireplace before and after

fireplace remodel design

The German smear fireplace needs any update. The makeover of this fireplace can be the model, style, and color to get the timeless look. Everyone can do it yourself of the fireplace into your desired style. Make a renovation by yourself giving some advantages, such as saving budget and the result precisely as your own design, there are the aspects can You take the makeover for example, the centuries old technique of new life technique into a tired exterior. You also can change the warm colors such as brick reds and brown) with the cooler tones. The indoor fireplace can move to outdoor fireplace to get the new atmosphere.

The German mortar smear fireplace

german smear fireplace decor

To make building block, it is usually using bind and seal pieces of mortar, often consists of mixed Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. The German mortar smear fireplace is permanent. It is strong and sturdy, but when you want to make a renovation for your fireplace, someday, it will be difficult.

There is application difference between a mortar wash and German smear technique. Basically, the mortar wash using the layer which is thinner and more consistent layer of mortar. It uses lesser amount, with various brick left with sparser coverage. The result of mortar wash technique is smoother of coverage, whereas the German smear technique results the heavier coverage, in oher words, the differences are in the final result of look; natural and rustic, which applying the bricks wiped off to expose the original bricks.

The mortar is mixed the same for either technique, it just depends on the look you desire. If you apply more than you want, you can wipe it or rinse it off for the first few minutes until the mortar starts to set or you can use the wire brush to remove larger portions. Then dib the sponge into the mix and scoop it on, applying it to the brick in an upward motion. Afterwards just rub the sponge over to get the coverage you prefer.

Whitewashing brightens the look of wood surface while allowing their natural grain to show through. The light color and pleasingly imperfect aesthetic of whitewashing makes rooms appear more comfortable.

How to whitewash brick:

  1. Clean the brick gently and thoroughly. Remove the existing finish from the wood.
    Whitewashing works best on raw wood.
  2. Remove all lingering paint from the paint surface.
  3. Tape and cover the surface will be protected.
  4. Mix the water and white latex paint in a 50/50 solution.
  5. Make the whitewash using brush or rag.

The German smear fireplace with white mantle

fireplace with white mantle

Another style of German smear is called semi-gloss paint. It has solid and durable surface which arresting the heat from the fireplace while reflecting the light from the flames. The German smear typically easy to clean and stain- resistant that make this style becomes an ideal to apply.

Select color for the mantel that is present in the surround, but not one of the main colors so it stands out. When your room has the very light color, you may give the darker accent shade color to make the mantel stand out. In conversely, in the very dark room, you may give the light accent color to make the shade brighter.

Nothing different in painting the fireplace than painting the another parts of home. Even if the process is easier for panting the mantels of fireplace. The easiest step on decorating fireplace mantel is hanging a mirror in the middle and a sconce on either side. Cover the mantel with the larger vase in front of mirror and fill with smaller accessories such as vases, decorative object and candlestick.

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