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Exposed Brick Wall: My true story

Welp, there are sometimes when you’ve just got to admit when a project doesn’t quite turn out how you expected it. ENTER: The Exposed Brick Wall.

Something I’ve come to know about myself is that it doesn’t quite matter where I’m living- if I’m staying there for more than a month, I WILL make it to my liking. Which is where I find myself now. So, my apartment here in Guatemala has brick walls. Most of the external walls are brick and the inside walls seem to be concrete. It’s just how these buildings were made back in the day here in Latin America. I would have loved the walls if they’d have been painted white. BUT instead, they are painted a very yucky off-white/beige/yellow. That’s the best way to describe. A pastel yellow. ILK. I’m sure you’re thinking that I could have just painted everything white, but truly that would have been a much bigger job since I’d have to paint the WHOLE apt white. So instead, the further I stared at the wall I decided that it would be awesome to make it into an exposed brick wall.

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I did my research and all the signs pointed to- omg, don’t do it! It’s a death trap or something like it. Everywhere I searched online mentioned how incredibly difficult it is to make an exposed brick wall on your own. It seemed that they all ended up using the water pressure treatment which is impossible for the indoor project I wanted to do. But even after having read that I wasn’t deterred! I have to figure out for myself just how hard it’s really going to be, so I found a Sherwin-Williams close to me and bought a small can of paint remover. Even though the whole apartment is brick, I knew I just wanted to do the main living room walls. As you can see from the photos, however, the paint was laid on pretty thick. Still, I took the paint remover and chose three bricks in a less obvious place to test it out.

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Before I knew it, the paint was basically falling off on its own! I’d left it on about 3 minutes before I realized that the paint remover was some powerful stuff and that the paint could come off almost in sheets! This was a surprise so I decided, heck, I can do this! I went to town laying on the thick remover and scraping with my spatula. In the areas where you can see more paint it’s because I was running out of remover- not because the paint wasn’t coming off.

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I seriously laughed at the idea that someone could think that this was so hard! I mean all you had to do was buy the right amount of paint remover, lay it on thick, scrape it off and voila- exposed! Not much to it! Since I was going for the exposed brick with a more historic feel I wanted there to still be some paint chips on the brick. I’m sure that if I had laid it on even thicker and spent a little more time I could have cleaned them completely. Something important to know though is that you seriously do need gloves. A few drops of the remover on your exposed skin and you’ll get a burn like I did! Nothing too big but be very careful.

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Up until this point, I’m happy and although the process is time-consuming it’s really not bad. THAT IS- until I begin the other wall. It’s as if whoever painted this apartment decided to put paint primer on one wall, and not on the other. I’m sure you can guess what wall DID NOT have paint primer on it…That’s right the wall I did first. Which means that when I did the second wall it was HARD. It was not coming off in sheets, rather it was like scraping gum! I could clearly see the white paint that was underneath the yellow and I’d have to go over the same brick with more remover at least 2 times. UGH! I also started using a wet sponge and water to sort of remove what I could (which is stated in the can instructions), but it felt like all I was doing was rubbing the wet paint around. Not an easy job at all!

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I understood quite quickly the complaints all over the internet! Removing paint sucks! I was determined as I am when I start this kind of project and I managed to scrape the wall- but I can’t say I’m extremely proud of it! You can clearly see the difference in the two walls and their colors. I could spend more time scraping, sponging the paint off with water and scraping more BUT I reached my limit, lol.

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So, in true DIY form, I wrestled with it a bit more and then finally called it a day (although the process was about 4-5 days). I really do love the walls this way. They bring in much more character and color. The natural light helps a ton too.

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Don’t mind the brown couch! Like a normal frat/sorority house, these kinds of couches get inherited. I can’t say how long they’ve been here but judging from their comfy level and wear and tear I’d say about 8 years too long.

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So there it is folks, sometimes what you read on the internet IS true lol! I’m super glad I worked on the wall but I would advise checking more than one place on the wall when you test, having a team of “helpers” and shopping around for different types of paint remover. All in all, it IS possible! So if you’ve been staring at that ugly painted brick wall, now is your chance! If I can do it on my own, in a foreign country with no help so can you!

Anyone try scraping a wall?? Tips?

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