Signed, Sealed, and Delivered – Another Exposed Brick Wall…

It isn’t really another brick wall…

It is the original exposed brick wall in our old house. After 21.5 years, our dining room exposed brick wall is finally finished!

Yes, you read that correctly – 21.5 years! It should not have taken that long. Why did it take so long? I don’t know. I don’t have a simple answer. I don’t have a complicated answer. I don’t even have a story. It just never got done…

The point today is that it is now done! We can all move on with our lives. Our exposed brick dining room wall has been cleaned up, repaired, tuck pointed, sealed, trimmed out, and finished.


This exposed brick wall is a focal point in our house. I love exposed brick walls. Tad not so much. People tend to have a lot of questions about exposed brick walls. I have discussed our exposed brick walls in the past. Click here to review the detailed story of our exposed brick walls.  Yes, we have more than one exposed brick wall :0 !

Here is the abbreviated version of the exposed brick wall story in our dining room. This brick wall had been exposed before we moved in 21 years ago. It was never finished properly. There were missing bricks. There was missing mortar. The bricks and mortar were a bit fragile and sandy so it was constantly dropping debris onto the floor. There was a sizable gap between the wall and flooring. There was also a big gap along the ceiling where the plaster had been removed. At some point over the last 2 decades, we did a temporary fix for the gaps in the floor and ceiling. I also added some plaster back around the windows so we could trim out the windows.

Dining room floor


Weirdly, I had not planned to finish the dining room wall during our recent renovation. Though, at some point, I realized I needed to at least clean up the brick wall a bit in preparation for future completion. I sanded off a bunch of insulation overspray and chipped the plaster off the brick at the ceiling (so the drywall guys could get the drywall as close as possible to the brick wall). I ended up with a few more holes in the wall and a lot of really loose bricks.


Still, I thought I might do the brick wall repair myself – eventually, but it wasn’t really on my radar with everything else going on. Then, Tad mentioned that we should probably just get this done before the new flooring was installed. I think he was nervous seeing a bunch of brick pieces sitting there…


Getting the exposed brick wall tuck pointed seemed like a decent idea. However, there was a definite flaw in that suggestion. I had less than a week to get it done. That seemed impossible given the fact that I had to work most of those days, and I had no prearranged resources to get this done.

I decided to give it the old college try. I left messages with a bunch of masons. Most never returned my calls. Others declined the job immediately (too small of a job, too old of a house, too detailed, etc).  I had started to research how I was going to DIY this thing between my 12 hour work days. Then, I got a referral from one of the masons I contacted – about a guy who works just on historic houses.

Long story short – the guy ended up being the same guy who did our outside tuck pointing 20 years ago, the price was reasonable, the missing bricks were replaced, the loose bricks were reset, tuck pointing was done, and he was able to complete the job in 2 days – before the new flooring went in!


Next up was sealing the wall. If you reviewed my previous post about our exposed brick walls, you know that I debated whether or not to seal the walls and, if so, with what. You also know that the debate ended with me sealing our other wall with some stone and grout sealer that I had also used in our shower. It worked great, but was very time consuming and a bit messy to apply (I had to spray on 6 or 7 thin coats with a spray bottle.)


So, back to the dining room wall – At this point, the new flooring had already gone in, so using a spray bottle to seal the wall didn’t seem like a good idea (with the possibility of drips and overspray onto the floor even if I tried to protect it). I discussed the situation with the guy who repaired the brick wall. He suggested a product that could be neatly brushed or rolled on and would yield the results I was looking for (no sheen, no darkening of the bricks, and would keep the sandy stuff on the wall behind the sealer). It worked pretty well. I was able to neatly brush the sealer onto the bricks without a huge mess. The sheen is matte/low shine. It has done a great job at keeping the sandy debris up on the wall. Not one piece  of rogue debris has been spotted on the new flooring. The one thing that wasn’t completely optimal about this different product was that I think it did darken the bricks slightly. Though, it is difficult to be certain.


The bathroom/bedroom exposed brick wall seems to be a bit less vibrant. It seems to be a bit more subtle and subdued…



Though, now that I am studying the photos, I think it is because there is some residual plaster left on the bathroom/bedroom wall. The dining room wall is clear of any residual plaster…



Hmm. Had I noticed that prior to sealing, I may have tried to do some sort of white or gray dry brush technique on the bricks to tone down the red. Heck, I still might actually try that in the future – when I’ve got nothing better to do!

Anyway. With that mystery solved, I am going to say that I would definitely recommend the later “hydrasheen” product for sealing exposed brick walls due to the ease of application and the stellar performance of keeping the debris off the floor and behind the sealer.


Next up on the road to a finished dining room wall was caulking. The flooring guys had done a nice job of scribing the flooring to the brick wall. However, being that the wall is an even brick surface there was still a small gap – and Tad suggested that caulking would provide a more finished look.


I used backer rod behind some of the bigger gaps and taped off the the edge of the flooring.



I caulked the joint with some gray caulking that closely matched the mortar (or so I thought).


Once the tape was removed, I realized that the caulking was most definitely not a good match to the mortar…


Tad thought it looked ok as it was. I didn’t like it. I tried to live with it for a while. It was distracting. It was totally the wrong color. It wasn’t even close. Finally, I did a faux painting experiment with wood stain, acrylic craft paint, and latex wall paint – to get a closer match. I am a freak (we already know that). It isn’t perfect, but I think it looks pretty good now – a little less dark industrial gray – a bit more soft antiqued gray/brown…


The next step was to paint the plaster around the windows. I was dreading this. I knew it would be a total time suck with all the taping required. Last time I painted this plaster it took a good eight hours to tape off around the three windows. I considered procrastinating this part of the project. Tad kept bugging me to get it done. His persistence paid off. I sucked it up and just got it done.





Again, it took about 8 hours of my life to tape off these windows. I did space out the taping task to 2 or 3 evenings – while listening to some podcasts. So, the task seemed almost bearable this time around. Painting was quick in comparison to taping off – it took about an hour. I am happy it is done. I am happy I was pressured to just get it done. I vow to never do that again!


The final finishing detail was wood trim along the top.


I like it.


Here are the before and afters.

Back in the day…


A work in progress – before repair…

Dining wall pre-tuckpointing...

Still a work in progress – after repair and sealed, but before paint and wood trim…


Finished (except, maybe some future white wash to tone down the vibrant red of the bricks)…


Why can’t I just leave well enough alone???