Well hello there! Before I decorated for Christmas I over grouted our fireplace.
I’ve been working for the last year-ish on giving our home the cottage-y feel that I think it wants. : ) I really honed in on that when we did our girl’s bathroom and then again when we did the budget makeover of our kitchen last fall.
I’ve also been trying to think about ways that I can add interest, detail and warmth to our home without adding more THINGS to our home. ‘Less’ has been a breath of fresh air for me.
Now, I’ve already changed this fireplace a few times. When we moved in it was dark brick.
I pretty much immediately painted it… and the mantel.
Then last January I wrapped the thin mantel for a more substantial, modern look.
But look at the pic above. See the lines in between each brick? The mortar was recessed creating so many shadows. It’s a small thing but really, anytime there’s a shadow, it’s going to make a room feel less bright. Not to mention that this is 70’s brick. Nothing special.
I had been seeing over grout projects. One from Chris Loves Julia with their stone fireplace.
Photo source: Chris Loves Julia
And then the one that seemed the closest to my project. This fireplace from Rebecca and Genevieve.
Photo source: Rebecca and Genevive
I felt like her tutorial gave me a really good picture of what I was getting myself into. For example: she prepared me that my hands would be so tired from squeezing the piping bag. And this is my forewarning: wear gloves. I’m pretty sure I sanded my fingerprints away from not wearing them the first day. You know…real life stuff. Those things being said, I’m so happy I took on this project. The fireplace is now a little softer, more textured, more classic looking.
Here’s what you’ll need:
I used just a little more than one 50lb bag of white mortar. They were $15 each so I didn’t hesitate to buy another just to make sure I’d have enough.
You can use a corded drill and mixer to mix the grout but I just used a stick and my brute strength.
To start off, I used painters tape to protect the floors, walls and ceilings from grout and removed the mantel.
To mix the mortar I used about 6 cups of the mix with about 3 cups of water. You want the mixture to be thinner than cookie dough but thicker than pancake batter. Like, mashed potatoes If it has too much water, it will drip down your brick. You do not want that.. If it’s too thick it will be super hard to pipe and may dry too quickly…You don’t want that either.
I didn’t ever mix larger batches because my girls are virtual learning and I needed to, at least feel like I could step away at any moment. When I had it mixed to the proper consistency, I filled the piping bag. It’s really nice and sturdy. You can cut the blue tip a little larger, which I did, if you have larger gaps to fill.
I started in the far right at the top and worked my way down. I realized it was better to over fill the gaps. This process is called “over grouting” so that would make sense. But, I found that over filling gives you more mortar to smooth down/ over the brick and I found it stayed in the gaps better when it was piped thicker and could rest on both sides of brick.
You can see some gaps in the piped mortar in this pic. I used a lot more as the day went on. I also added more to some spots after the initial batch dried. I let the mortar dry without touching it for about 1.5 hours. Then I started pressing it in to the gaps. Use gloves.
You know how paint or clay or glue dries on the outside before it dries on the inside? That’s kind of how this is. You’ll know it’s dry enough to manipulate when the top part is easy to press and nothing comes off on your fingers (or gloves). If you start messing with it too early, it’ll stick to your fingers and pull away.
I used this step to disguise cracks, cover jagged parts of the bricks and try to get a smoother texture. The last step was to use a wet sponge to smooth things out even more.
This picture was the second day. The right side was already dry so I added mortar to spots over there and then finished the wall before moving down to the hearth and base.
It was fun to watch it dry. It went from grey to white slowly. It was like a happy treat when I got to check on it the next morning.
I also made a mantel but this time I decided to have it span the whole width of the wall. WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT SOONER? I love it. I didn’t take a single picture of the process because it ended up being more involved than I thought. (the wall bowed out a little so the wood didn’t sit flush against it.) But it’s done and exactly what I wanted.
Ok, now I’m going to share some close ups and critique myself because knowing what NOT to do is equally as helpful as knowing what to do.
I really am so happy with it but I found that I had to wipe away so much to get a smooth look. Therefore, the lines didn’t end up being as over grouted as I would have liked. They are way shallower and way better but I wish I had made them even more filled in.
I love the spots where the mortar is wiped over the brick more. The original paint color was pretty stark and the mortar was warmer in tone. I love the mix of the two.
You can also see some little holes in the brick still. I might have to go back and cover those at some point.
I’m so happy with it! I don’t think anyone else would notice that it was done but, to me, it makes a huge difference….and your home is for you so if it’s something that makes a difference to you, you should do it. Especially if it’s an under $100 project.
We’ve made some changes in the living room. Shop it by scrolling below.
Let me know if you have any questions about the process. I’d love to cheer you on!
Thanks for reading, friends.