Exposed brick sounds like a good idea until you realize it’s a huge pain in the neck.
Exposed brick is a favorite of home design blogs and Pinterest boards alike, and for good reason. This trendy wall covering adds character to any space while also boasting its own distinct style. However, if you’re not careful, this seemingly easy DIY can cause serious headaches down the road. A little research now can save you a lot of time and frustration later on.
First things first, exposed brick is notoriously difficult to work with on a practical level. If you’re planning to anchor heavy furniture or drill holes in your walls, exposed brick could be a recipe for disaster. Most types of bricks are too thick to be drilled into easily, which means you’ll have to use heavy-duty metal fasteners instead—which probably won’t match the rest of your décor (or your landlord’s rules). And did we mention that bricks are really heavy?
To make matters worse, once your walls are completely exposed it will be difficult to cover them back up if you change your mind about this seemingly timeless aesthetic. So unless you plan on moving every year or so (and carrying those heavy bricks with you), exposed brick might not be the best choice for renters who want an easy way out of their lease agreement!
Let’s start with the most obvious: exposed brick is heavy. Although it’s a versatile and aesthetically pleasing material, its density makes it anything but lightweight. This inherent heaviness is more than just an inconvenience. It can be downright dangerous in some situations.
If you’ve ever been around exposed brick before, you’ve probably noticed that it’s thick. That thickness is what causes it to be so heavy, which can lead to many problems if not dealt with properly:
- Brick walls are heavy because they’re thick
- If the wall has any internal structure that houses electrical wires or plumbing pipes, that structure will need to be reinforced to support the weight of the wall above
- Even without such internal structures, a wall of a certain height will need additional reinforcement to keep from collapsing
This isn’t to say there aren’t any situations where using exposed brick would be appropriate—just that this isn’t one of them!
It’s hard to anchor to
This is a serious problem when it comes to mounting your TV or hanging a painting or two. If you can’t attach anything to the wall, you’ll be forced to lean things against the brick. Not only does this look bad, but it also greatly increases the risk that these items will end up face down on the floor at some point.
Yet another reason why exposed brick is terrible: it’s hard to paint over. This may seem like a good thing—after all, if your exposed brick walls are coming out looking ugly and/or damaged, you should be able to just paint over them and call it a day, right? Wrong! Just because you can paint exposed brick doesn’t mean that it will look good once painted. I have tried my damnedest to make one of our rooms look nice by painting over its awful red-tinged BRICK WALLS…to no avail.
It really sticks out
Exposed brick is just that: exposed. It’s not easy to hide, remove or alter. Even if you decide you don’t like it and want to paint over it, it’s a big project to clean the brick of soot and grime, seal it off and then paint it. And even if you do all those things, the texture will still be visible through the paint.
If exposed brick is a feature that can’t be changed, then there really isn’t much of a problem with it after all—except that most people like having the option of changing their homes from time to time. Flexibility is important in interior design because our tastes change over time as we age and mature, but also because we are influenced by new trends as they emerge. Trends are only trends for so long before they become dated—and just as your floral wallpaper might have been trendy at one time but seemed outdated when “out with the old, in with the new” became popular again, exposed brick might similarly seem outdated if another trend gains popularity (for example: covering up exposed brick).
It’s an architectural feature that you can’t cover up later.
As a material that’s often used in design, exposed brick can add a rugged, industrial feel to any space. It’s also used to showcase the age of a structure and let you know that it’s historic. This is the primary reason it was popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s: people liked showing off the bones of their buildings. But here’s why I think exposed brick is problematic:
- Once an entire wall has been made of exposed brick, there’s not much that you can do with it visually to personalize your space. Yes, you can add pictures or hang shelves on it, but there aren’t many materials out there that complement exposed brick well.
- If you want to change your style after installing an exposed-brick wall, difficult choices await. You can paint over it if you want, but the texture will still be visible underneath and make for wonky coverage (and who wants wonky paint?). You also can’t wallpaper it because the uneven surface will create bubbles in the paper as soon as you apply water—and who wants bubbles? The only way to get rid of an exposed-brick wall is to tear down the whole thing and start from scratch—a costly move!
We all love exposed brick. We swoon over the authentic charm it adds to a space, and we can’t get enough of the rustic-meets-modern feel it can give to any room. But there are significant drawbacks to this popular design trend—and many homeowners never even know about them until they try to hang a picture or put on a coat of paint. Before you jump into an exposed brick project, do your research first. You may find that you either don’t have the right type of wall—or that you need to consider other options before painting over your pristine mortar.