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Mortar Smear (German Smear) Exterior of Home: How To and Pictures!

lauren bell

As I mentioned in my post about the fireplace, we were going to eventually work on the exterior of our home and mortar wash. Jojo Gaines (Fixer Upper) recently did an entire house with German Smear so I figured I would actually follow through with my desire to finish ours. She usually beats me to my project finishes - not to mention she has a much wider range of "reach" than I have! But, she started somewhere, right? So here it is. OUR very own Mortar Smear (German Smeared) exterior home. 

I always get asked about which mortar I use, this is the bag. It's only available at The Home Depot here in Texas - I did notice you can order it if you can't find it near you and have it delivered!  - LB

I always get asked about which mortar I use, this is the bag. It's only available at The Home Depot here in Texas - I did notice you can order it if you can't find it near you and have it delivered!  - LB

Take everything I said about the fireplace re-do and throw it in the trash. Not kidding. I learned SO much after going to town (my daughter's favorite phrase) on the exterior of our home. I actually learned so much and changed the style of how I smear, that I plan on re-doing the fireplace a little bit to match the exterior. I love it that much! 

So, for starters - I wanted to do the front of my home first. I wanted to get that finished so that we could move onto other things like beam replacements and adding/fixing our front steps and getting the siding and trim by our door finished. So I started tackling the front. I used the same technique - no actually, I didn't. I didn't use a sponge. I used my hands and some very thick nitrile gloves. I think this allowed me to be much more artistic with the mortar. On the fireplace I covered every brick. On the exterior, I didn't cover the bricks that I wanted to stand out. I wanted the deep reds to show and none of the other colors. I mixed the mortar - I used a slightly more watery consistency than I did inside but that was because it went on easier with my hands and because its 10479 degrees here in Texas and by the time I got the bucket out to work, it had already dried too much! After I applied (literally just smear it on) and let it set (an hour or so) I went back and slightly wire-brushed the pieces I wanted to show more (or, in all honesty, where I smeared too much with my fingers and you could see the finger grooves).

Once it dries, that's it. It's done. There is no additional work to be done. It's messy. So if you don't want to have to go back and pick up all the leftover mortar that falls in the crevice of your foundation/yard, then lay a sheet down below your work. You can also re-use what falls down while you're applying. Just add it back into the bucket when you're done and add some water. 

Ready for some pictures?!!?? I LOVE how this turned out. While doing this project, (mind you, I was 4 months pregnant with our third when I started!) people stopped me ALL the time to ask what I was doing. People stop every day and point and take pictures of our home. It's kind of weird but also kind of awesome - because that means that people LOVE this. And that's perfect because I do too!! 

*Note - there IS a technique to doing the smear correctly. You really have to practice and work at it to get the consistency and the application you want. I'm (Aug '16) very very pregnant (4 weeks to go!) still and I've enlisted the help of my sweet and AMAZING husband to do the tough work of finishing the back of the house. He's INCREDIBLE at carpentry (as you've seen) and everything else that has to do with the physical shape of our home. However, when it comes to artistic expression - he says, and I quote "I hate this kind of stuff." So, with that said, practice. Do it over and over until you like it. If you don't like what you've put on, before it dries, hose it down with water and it will literally come right off. 

I'll leave you with one last picture: 

This is what the exterior currently looks like - don't mind the paint colors - I'm testing out what I want (which is NOT this color - it's way too blue for our home) the soffits and trim to look like. We're getting a new roof with new downspouts/gutters (in a week) so that will change the look of our dark cave too!

Thank you for ALL your desire to see the exterior update! I can't wait to share with you all what comes next! We have LOTS of projects on the books. 

You can also always follow our Instagram feed for up to date pictures! @TheChathamCollective is our name! 

Until Next Time,
Lauren