Thin Brick Accent Wall in an Office | Old Mill Brick HQ
June 23, 2020
Making a more attractive office with DIY Brickwebb thin brick veneer
The offices of Old Mill Brick are decorated with stark white walls and fluorescent lights. Today we decided to make a Thin Brick Accent Wall using DIY thin brick veneer from Floor & Decor. We wanted one wall to have a decorative pattern using our Vintage Oak on Brickwebb Thin Brick, which is exclusive to Floor & Décor. This DIY thin brick is beautiful and is so easy to install!
Below you’ll see that we actually used all three patterns of Brickwebb – our original Running Bond pattern, new Herringbone pattern, and an experimental Soldier Course pattern that we’re exploring bringing to market. Thin Brick is so easy for accent walls because it can be placed on so many surfaces without a lot of preparation. In this case we installed our brick on top of painted drywall. By the way, Brickwebb can be installed on unpainted drywall, cement board, plywood, cement blocks and other surfaces.
Because we are all busy at the office, we decided to make this a three-day project. We took two days to adhere the Brickwebb thin brick to the wall, and the final day to grout the thin brick. The project went really smoothly. All the brick was straight and level and spaced perfectly. The patented mesh used on Brickwebb products really help to get perfect alignment and spacing. Additionally, we can install this project so much faster using Brickwebb than by using individual thin bricks.
Step 1: Prepping the wall
For this Thin Brick Accent Wall in the office we had to move the furniture away from the wall. Then, we removed any baseboards and trim and removed the face plate from the outlet. Finally, after laying down and taping up the floor covering we quickly sanded the wall surface with a 3M channeling sanding sponge. This sanding just ensures that the surface is smooth, that its not covered with loose particles, and it actually creates a bit of ‘traction’ for the adhesive to adhere better without failure.
Step 2: Adhesive
To mix the adhesive we used 2 5-gallon buckets. We filled one bucket about half way with water, but we ended up using only about a 1/3 of a bucket of water. In the other empty bucket, we entered about half of a 50 lb bag of Old Mill Adhesive, then about half of the water we had on hand. Then, using a low RPM drill and a paddle attachment, we mixed the adhesive and water together. We added a bit more water and then a bit more adhesive eventually getting a perfect consistency.
The consistency we are looking for is a bit like peanut butter that can hold its shape. It shouldn’t be runny, or else it will run down the wall and will not hold the heavy thin brick. It is more frustrating working with runny adhesive than with dry adhesive, so we tend to error on the dry side and add water as needed.
After mixing thoroughly it is best practice to wait 5 minutes and then mix again. Why? We recommend mixing it again after the first mix, as the adhesive tends to set quite firmly after the first mix. After the second time the adhesive usually remains pliable. Why does this happen? We’re not sure of the science behind it – but it definitely works!
Once the Old Mill Adhesive is mixed
After waiting and mixing the adhesive the second time, the Old Mill Adhesive is now ready to place onto the wall surface. To do this, the easiest thing to do is use a small margin trowel to scoop out adhesive, and place it onto the larger notched trowel. Almost like putting paint on a paint palette.
Once you have loaded up the notched trowel, simply spread the adhesive onto the wall. It takes a few times to figure out how to do this without dropping it down the wall and onto the floor! We recommend using a bit of an arch to spread it on initially. Try to make the adhesive at least ¼” thick. Once there is enough coverage for one or two Brickwebb sheets, use the notched side of the notched trowel, and scrape away the adhesive, making sure the trowel is more or less perpendicular to the wall. This should create some deep grooves of adhesive on the wall.
Step 3: Brickwebb thin brick and thin brick singles
Now that Old Mill Adhesive is on the wall, its time to place sheets of Brickwebb. (This is also when you’d place Thin Brick Singles or Corners.) Since we just have a flat accent wall, we don’t have to deal with corners; however, if you do have corners its best to do them first. This is to make sure the corner is aligned perfectly without cutting.
For Brickwebb Sheets, peel off the paper to expose only the thin brick and the patented mesh backing. Starting at the TOP LEFT corner of your project, place the first panel of Brickwebb. For our Vintage Oak project, we decided to place an entire sheet of Brickwebb first, realizing that we would need to go back and cut smaller thin brick for the gaps that are left. Note: make sure to place the Brickwebb sheet on the wall with the exposed mesh on the RIGHT SIDE of the Brickwebb sheet. We designed Brickwebb to overlap itself, to ensure proper adhesion. Therefore, the mesh needs to be exposed on the right side. Then, the next sheet can cover up the exposed mesh with the thin bricks that are sticking out.
Some helpful Brickwebb tips
There is no science to placing Brickwebb sheets, but there are some pointers that can help to make this thin brick accent wall a huge success.
- Only put enough adhesive on the wall for one or two sheets of Brickwebb. This will ensure it doesn’t dry out before the Brickwebb is placed on top.
- Typically, we like to start at the top row and work down – row by row, rather than go in columns. This helps make sure that adhesive doesn’t drip on any thin brick.
- If you have areas that need cut brick, its often more efficient to leave all the cuts to do at once. Just leave the gap and come back to it later. NOTE: make sure to scrape any adhesive out of the gaps with the margin trowel! If you leave adhesive in the gap and then try to add a cut brick an hour later, you’ll find you now have to chisel out a bunch of cement-hard adhesive.
Step 3a: Herringbone
Herringbone installs just like other Brickwebb products. Cutting and organizing the Herringbone can be done a number of ways. The simplest way is to install a full sheet at a time; then make cuts to fill in the gaps later. For our project, we only wanted one row of Brickwebb Herringbone; and we wanted to use as few sheets as possible. To do this we cut each Brickwebb Herringbone sheet in at the widest part of the sheet. We then took each piece and basically swapped them, so that the bottom piece is flush against the top, and the top piece completes the pattern at the bottom and creates a flush bottom. Watching this video will help explain this better.
After all the Brickwebb and Thin Brick is install, its best to wait overnight for the adhesive to dry before grouting.
Step 4: Grout
To grout our project we used Type S Mortar Mix in natural grey. This type of mortar mix works well with thin brick because it is relatively easy to insert into the joints, and it’s easy to clean off of the brick when it’s almost dry. An alternative is to use sanded grout. Sanded grout comes in more colors than mortar; but it is also much more fine than mortar, so it seeps into the thin brick cracks. Projects that use sanded grout either must be installed very carefully to not get onto the face of the brick; or perhaps the user would like the brick to have a look with grout on the face – like a German schmear look.
To grout with mortar, again use a bucket and add water to the dry mixture. Using a paddle attachment, mix the mortar until it has a texture similar to the adhesive. We have found that the grout can be a little bit more liquid than the adhesive. By making the mortar more liquidy, it will be easy to squeeze out of the grout bag.
Typical grout bags have a relatively small hole for the grout to pass through. We typically cut the tip to approximately 3/8” wide using a utility knife. Place the grout bag on the ground and step on the tip. Next, lift and open the opening of the grout bag. Using a margin trowel, fill the grout bag until its approximately half-way full. Lift the grout bag over the bucket and shake the grout bag into the bucket to shake the mortar down into the bottom of the bag. Next, twist the opening of the grout bag shut and hold the bag horizontally so the mortar does not spill out of the tip.
Step 4a: Pointing
We then fill each brick joint by twisting the back of the grout bag and squeezing the front. Its hard work! We've found that having runnier grout makes the process go faster, but it requires more clean-up. Work in 10 min sections. After 10 minutes of grouting, stop, and test the grout. Press the grout with your finger. If the grout is getting firm then its time to use the brick jointer.
We used a brick jointer to finish the wall, which gives the classic concave curve to our grout. However, there are other ways to finish the grout. To use the brick jointer simply run the brick jointer, firmly, along the joint of the brick, pushing the grout into the joint. The grout should fall to the ground leaving a concave and smooth surface. Continue working in 10 minute sections grouted and pointing the brick joints, until you complete the entire project. (Pointing = the process of using the brick jointer.)
Step 4b: Brushing
To complete the thin brick accent wall, take a brush - we used a natural fiber brush - and brush the entire wall. This will clean the surface of the brick from any leftover grout particles, as well as smooth the surface of the grout. And that's it!
To clean-up, remove any tape and ground covering. Clean the tools (we recommend cleaning them outside so that loose grout doesn't get into your drain). Replace any thermostat covers, outlet and switch plates, etc. Allow the grout to dry approximately 24 hours before replacing furniture and hanging pictures.
Now sit back and enjoy your thin brick accent wall! That was a great project. We really enjoy looking at this office accent wall and can't wait to do another in another office.