German Schmear Brick Fireplace with Fall Mantle Decor

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I have thought about trying the “German Schmear” on our brick fireplace ever since seeing the technique on Fixer Upper. So one spring quarantine weekend, I decided to do grab the essentials and finally just DO IT!

And I’m so glad we did!

German Schmear Brick Fireplace with Fall Mantle Decor
Drag the slider left and right to see the German Schmear
brick fireplace before and after photos!

We thought about replacing the faux brick face of our floor-to-ceiling fireplace with a modern, layered-stone style, but we also knew that there were already way too many things higher on the priority list for 2020.

But I couldn’t spend another season looking at this dark, dreary fireplace…

So it was time to just make it happen. I was a little worried I might do all this work and end up hating it. I have only found a select few German shmear photos that I’ve see online. But the ones I do like, I love!

I had the reassurance that if I screwed this up, at least we would only have to look at it for another year or so before it could be fully replaced. And, it would really just help push this project higher up that priority list, so nothing to lose! Luckily, the low risk was worth the big rewards in the end.

Here’s what we used to use to German Schmear the brick:

And this is how simple it is to apply the German Schmear:

We placed some Presto Patch compound into the sandwich bags and cut a hole to use to pipe the compound into the grout and then followed up with the putty knife to smooth and overlap onto the bricks.

However, we actually ended up using the putty knife and the sandwich bags way less than expected. We actually had better success with just pressing the compound into the grout by hand. So, that is why we are adding disposable gloves to the list above!

I think that for more shallow grout, the putty knife technique would have worked a lot better. But this grout was quite deep, so it was easier to just press the compound into the space and smear onto the brick.

We used the wet sponge a few times to scrub a few bricks that got a little more of the compound on them than we wanted. I do love how that spot turned out, though. In the photo below, it’s above the Dr Pepper decor.

In fact, I’m already considering adding more compound to the rest of the fireplace to match that area.

The goal was to achieve a subtle schmear with just enough overlap to soften all the straight edges and sharp corners of the bricks and give the fireplace a lighter, softer look while still revealing the brick color.

German Schmear Brick Fireplace with Fall Mantle Decor
We love the results! The German Schmear brick fireplace has brightened up
the space and has added some ‘old-world charm’ to our dining room!

A big “thank you!” to my daughter, Ella, for being so enthusiastic about this project and willing to jump right in and help me out! With her help, it only took the two of us about 6 hours to do the entire fireplace.

We love the results! The German Schmear brick fireplace has brightened up the space and has added some ‘old-world charm’ to our dining room!

Check out some of our other home projects here!


  1. This looks amazing! I had no idea it was that easy to do, and it definitely looks better than before. And I love the slider image to compare the before and after.

  2. I’ve white washed by orange brick fireplaces. It’s amazing how much it brightens the room. This looks really good!

  3. Love this! It came out amazing. I saw an episode from Joana gains and they did the German Schmear technique, definitely a great facelift for any dark or dingy brick!

  4. You and your daughter Ella did a great job! 👍🏼 I think it turned out great and up until now I didn’t know what German Schmear looked like. It really is nice and makes the fireplace stand out. Thank you for sharing 😊

  5. I remember seeing this episode and it was wild to see the transition. It looks great for your fireplace. Kudos for doing this yourself! I guess that makes you a Fixer Upper! Thanks for sharing.

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