FAQs About Decorative Washes, German Smears and White Washed Brick

Applying a whitewash or German Smear to a stone or red brick home is a fast way to completely transform the look and feel of your home to timeless and chic look.

If you’re here than you probably already know all about the three different types of decorative washes for brick masonry. If not, go ahead and click the link below to get up to speed.

The Most Common Types of Masonry Decorative Washe

Commonly Asked Questions

What’s the average cost of a decorative wash or white wash?

wiping on white wash on red brick

The average price for applying a decorative wash on the exterior of a home typically ranges from $12,000 to $25,000, although for an estate-sized home, the cost can easily 3-5x that amount.

For an average sized home of around 2,000 SqFt (the average home size in Texas is 2,031 SqFt) with 4 brick sides, you can estimate a cost of between $15,000-$20,000 for a reputable masonry contractor.

What are the different types of washes?

Most masonry companies and contractors will offer the three most common types of decorative washes that you’ll see, which are:

White Wash – A thin haze like coating over the entire brick veneer. 

German Smear – A thicker coating applied in patches that creates a rustic, antiqued look. 

Slurry – A thick application covering the entire brick veneer to create an almost a stucco like finish.

Is a decorative wash something that I could do myself? 

It’s painful say this but yes, technically you could apply a decorative wash by yourself but the results could be really, really well… not good.

And like we said earlier, any slurry is permanent.

Due to the labor intensive nature of applying the mortar mix to every. single. brick., the artsy-skills needed to create a uniform look, the professional level tools, and unique materials required, this is truly one of those job’s best left to the pros. 

That being said, there are plenty of DIY methods and tutorials available all over the internet, like anything else. If you do decide to go the DIY route, please do a test sample first in an obscure hard-to-see area before committing.

Another pro-tip is to make sure to buy all the material you’ll need (and extra) at once to avoid slight color variations that can, and probably will, occur when mixing the mortar.

What does applying a decorative wash entail?

While all masonry contractors operate differently, they should absolutely doing the list below before even attempting to create the matching mortar slurry.

1. Prepare the home for the decorative wash – covering windows and doors, removing exterior features, ex. shutters, light fixtures, etc. 

2. Preparing the brick veneer surface with power washing and crack repair where needed, while allowing enough time for crack repairs to seal.

3. Application of custom decorative wash to brick veneer.

4. Application of  industrial strength water repellent to seal your new decorative wash.

What is decorative wash or slurry made of? 

A well made and high-quality mortar mix, also referred to as slurry or German Smear, is uniquely crafted and the ingredients combined, while on-site, as to achieve the closest match possible, best look and longest lasting results. 

Typically, a german smear or slurry is made with a mix of  Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. 

What type of material can you do a decorative wash on?

All three decorative wash applications can be done on brick and stone. In many occasions a wash can be applied to painted brick also. 

Can I get a decorative wash on my fireplace/kitchen/interior brick wall/outdoor kitchen?

Decorative washes on accent interior walls and fireplaces are definitely trending, yet so timeless. A wash on even just your fireplace can be a great way to really transform the look of the interior of your home without having to do any major remodeling.

How long does does a decorative wash usually take?

In a perfect world, the entire process can be done in 7 days of no rain for about a 1,500 SqFt house.

How long do decorative washes on brick last? 

Decorative washes are permanent. Natural weathering can and will occur over the years, and we’re talking decades here. Basically, once it’s on, it’s very hard to remove.

How do I choose with decorative wash style will look best on my home?

With the growing trend, there are an abundance of photos online. We recommend browsing Houzz, Pinterest, and Google for the different types and choosing a few examples of ones that you like before meeting with a contractor. 

Is it possible to see a sample of what a decorative wash would look like on my home? 

Kinda, sorta. At the end of the day, it can be hard to really visualize how something will look after it’s all said and done, especially anything having to do with picking colors. However, there are a few ways to see a real sample of what the decorative wash would like on your home.

One option, and probably the least desirable one, is to pick a hard to find area, behind some landscaping in the side yard perhaps, and ask them to stain 2-3 bricks so you can get a real visual.

The second and much better option is to see a digital rendering with a few options of the level of wash or slurry that you need to get the look that you’re going for.

What if I don’t like the way the decorative wash looks? 

Due to the nature of the process, decorative washes are a permanent application. The products used have a strong adhesion and is designed to bond to the brick & mortar and is designed to not come off once it cures.

Decorative washes are indeed permanent so it’s best to get a rendering of what your home would look like with the decorative wash so you can be sure of your decision and of course like the look.

Do decorative washes need maintenance? 

Another reason that homeowners love decorative washes is that such little maintenance is needed to keep them looking beautiful and timeless.

Although, because decorative washes are typically white or light in color, it’s usually easier to see the dirty walls over time. Light pressure washing should once a year will keep your home looking beautiful and is generally recommended overall.

Otherwise, you may need to actually bust out the scrubber one day if you miss a couple of years of pressure washing. It’s also strongly recommend sealing the wash with a water repellant sealer after the application. 

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