Faux brick walls are favorite trompe l'oeil (to trick the eye) wall treatments. Executed properly, painted brick walls add visual interest to nearly any room. Bricks come in a wide variety of colors. While brick makers can add colorants to tint the bricks to nearly any color, red, gray or tan-colored bricks are commonly used. For a realistic and convincing trompe l'oeil effect, the faux brick wall treatment must have slight imperfections to simulate variations of color, texture and value in actual bricks.
Overview of Process
Painting a realistic faux brick effect requires two main colors of paint and several complementary or contrasting shades. The wall is first painted with the color that will represent the mortar between the bricks. The bricks are painted, stenciled or stamped onto the mortar-colored wall. The brick color is typically darker than the mortar color. Highlights and shadows are hand-painted on the bricks to simulate a three-dimensional effect.
Depending on your personal taste and desired effect, the mortar may be lighter or darker than the painted faux bricks. Light gray and tan colors are commonly used. To save time, the mortar paint may be rolled onto the wall, beginning with the base, mid-tone color. Darker and lighter values of the same color may be randomly rolled or brushed onto the base coat to simulate textural irregularities in the mortar.
The color of bricks used to build homes in your region is typically influenced by and dependent upon the natural color of clay found in the region. To simulate a natural effect, you can use colors of bricks used to construct your home or other nearby buildings. Reds, tans and browns are common clay colors. Whichever color you choose as your base color, you should mix a lighter and darker shade of the same color to simulate shadows and highlights caused by the irregularities in the surface of the bricks.
Highlights, painted with a thin liner brush on the upper or side-edge of the brick, simulates the reflection of sunlight from a nearby window or light source. To mix the highlight color, begin with white paint. Add a little yellow to lightly tint the white. Mix the brick color into the light yellow paint a little at a time until you have a lighter and slightly yellower version of the brick color. Thin the paint slightly so it is less opaque than the underlying paint.
Shadows are painted on the edges of the bricks, opposite the highlighted edges. The shadows extend into the mortar, creating the illusion of depth. To mix the shadow color, start with the base mortar color. Mix in, a little at a time, a dark violet or indigo color into the mortar-colored paint. Thin the paint slightly so it is less opaque than the underlying paint.
Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.