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German Smear | Pros & Cons of Brick Exterior Treatments

German Smear | Pros & Cons of Brick Exterior Treatments

Brick is a popular exterior building material that is used in many residential and commercial buildings.

One of the most popular brick exteriors, German smear, has its pros and cons like any other brick treatment.

This blog post will discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks to this style, as well as what you need to know before deciding on it for your next project!

What Is German Smear?

German smear is a method of applying an oil-based mortar to brick.

The goal with this treatment is to make the bricks look like they are made out of clay, rather than hard ceramic material (like granite or marble).

This technique was used in Germany during the late 1800s and early 1900s; however, it did not gain popularity in the United States until the 1960s.

What Are The Benefits of Brick Treatment with German Smear?

There are a lot of benefits to using German smear on your brick exterior including:

  • Durability – This method is very durable and long lasting compared to other treatments like paint and staining, which can fade or wear after time.
  • Appearance – Once German smear is applied correctly, the finish will look like clay bricks. This can give your exterior a unique appearance that other treatments cannot provide.

The Drawbacks of German Smear

German smear definitely has its drawbacks. Although it does make brick look more authentic by mimicking clay, there are some disadvantages to using this treatment on brick including: 

  • Price – This treatment can be very expensive and time consuming to do properly.
    • The cost of materials, as well as the labor required for applying this material is usually higher than other brick treatments like paint or stain.
  • Difficult to Apply – In order to apply German smear correctly, it requires a lot of skill from both the mason and the bricklayer.
    • It is not something that someone with no experience can do, so it might be necessary to hire a professional for this type of project.
  • Time – Because it takes longer to dry, the Italian smear technique is more time-consuming than other procedures such as paint or stain.
    • Multiple applications are required before another layer may be applied.
    • This entails anticipating this sort of job and ensuring you have adequate time to complete it.

Why Choose German Smear?

Although there are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to using German smear, many people still choose this treatment for their brick exterior because they love the look so much!

If your goal is authenticity in your design or if you want a different look than paint or stain, German smear might be the perfect option for you.

Advantages of Using German Smear

  • One of the main benefits to this type of brick treatment is that it gives your home a very traditional look.
    • This is ideal for when you’re upgrading an older home or want to maintain the look in order to preserve the old feel.
  • German smear is also easy and inexpensive, since most people can do it on their own without professional help!
  • For those who are not quite sure what they want to do with their brick exterior, this is a great starting point.

Disadvantages of Using a German Smear

  • The biggest drawback of German smear has to be that it can chip or crack easily if not done properly.
  • If the layer of mortar isn’t applied evenly over the bricks, your home may have uneven lines and/or cracks in the mortar.
  • Another con to this project is that it isn’t ideal for homes near bodies of water, as the brick will become more susceptible to cracking and crumbling when exposed to moist air or rainwater.
  • It is difficult to apply.
  • To properly apply a German smear, you must first understand its principles and it requires a lot of skill from both the mason and the bricklayer.
  • Time consuming:  German smear takes much longer than other treatments like paint or stain because multiple coats must dry before applying another coat.
    • This means that you will have to plan ahead for this type of project and make sure that you have enough time to work on it.
  • Not ideal for homes near bodies of water:  If your home is near a body of water, it may not be the best option because when exposed to moist air or rainwater, the German smear may become more vulnerable to cracking and crumbling.

German Smear Treatment Techniques

  • The first step is to remove any loose mortar and grout from between the bricks.
  • After this, the bricks should be cleaned and allowed to dry completely (at least 24 hours).
  • Once totally dry, a thin coat of oil or paint must be applied over each brick in order to create an even surface for applying the German smear.
  • A clay or mortar mixture should be mixed up and applied to each brick in a thin layer, covering the entire surface of the bricks completely.
  • The German smear must then dry for three days before applying another coat (this is how it gets its rough texture). More layers can be added as necessary!

Other Kind Of Treatment

As previously mentioned, German smear is one of the most popular types of brick exterior treatments.

However, there are many other options available for homeowners who want to update their brick exteriors including:

  • Brick paint – This type of treatment can be easily applied by homeowners themselves and provides a durable finish that keeps your bricks looking great for years to come.
  • Brick stain – This type of treatment is also applied by homeowners themselves and can provide a beautiful, natural look for brick exteriors.

The Cost Of German Smear

The cost for German smear varies depending on the size of your home as well as how many coats are necessary to complete the project.

In general, this type of treatment should be much cheaper than brick paint or brick stain because you are doing most of the work yourself versus hiring a professional!

This is great if you are remodeling an older home or want to keep with tradition for aesthetic purposes.

It also gives your home a very traditional look, which may appeal to some people who don’t like modern homes.

However, this alternative isn’t ideal for every person since it may chisel and fracture easily (particularly if it is used in a humid environment).


German Smear is great if you are remodeling an older home or want to keep with tradition for aesthetic purposes.

It also has a traditional look that may appeal to some individuals who dislike modern architecture.

However, this option isn’t ideal for everyone because it can chip and crack easily (especially if it is applied in an area with high humidity).

Although German smear has its drawbacks in terms of application and durability, it certainly makes up for this with its traditional appearance!

If you love the authentic look that only German smear can provide, it might be a fantastic option for your brick exterior.

As you can see, there are many benefits and drawbacks with German smear. The decision on whether or not to do this type of brick treatment is up to you and your personal preferences.

If you are willing to take the risk, German smear can provide a beautiful brick exterior that will look great for years.

This treatment also requires less maintenance than other treatments like paint or stain because it doesn’t require special washing techniques and only needs minimal repairs every few decades.

If you’re interested in learning more about German smear, contact a brick masonry contractor for assistance.

German Smear Brick Exterior Treatments