It’s funny how home remodeling projects can begin so innocently, with one little idea, then a year later they’ve taken over a part of your house. Our current project began with an oversized sectional sofa the delivery people couldn’t squeeze down the stairwell to the basement. Since then we’ve stripped and repainted the doors and trim work in the side entryway and tiled the stairs and hallway with natural stone tiles. But that’s another article…
To get the sectional seating into the basement tv room, we gained an extra three inches of space in the stairwell leading to the basement by removing the knotty pine paneling. You know the paneling I’m talking about - probably a third of the basement recreation rooms from the 1960’s are sporting the ski lodge look with knotty pine paneling. Once removed, the sectional slid into the basement and the delivery guys left. We sat on the new sofa and looked at the exposed concrete block wall, a dusty brick color. That’s when the little idea came to us: wouldn’t that wall look cool if it were actual brick? We could leave the bottom half of the wall paneled, then extend the brick all the way up to cover the entire wall where our side door is located.
With a little research, we found an affordable brick veneer manufactured by Old Mill Thin Brick Products. The bricks came in 12 different styles, from an adobe tan called Alamo Sunrise, to a really rustic style named Rushmore. We chose a colonial looking brick called Boston Mill. We ordered the tiles on a sheet which Old Mill markets as Brickweb. This made keeping the lines of brick straight and level much easier. The adhesive was also available through Old Mill, as were corner pieces which make the finished project look very realistic, like actual bricks rather than brick veneer tiles.
We found plenty of resources online such as installation videos to give us some direction when we applied mortar to the seams between the bricks. Sealing the bricks first with tile sealant made cleaning up the edges of the bricks a bit easier during this phase of the project. The new brick wall now looks like it’s the oldest part of the house.
We installed two LED lights in the wood shelf that runs horizontally along the wall, separating the basement from the first floor, so that the brick is nicely illuminated with uplighting. We’ve repainted the trim work a bold black, after stripping off decades of paint layers with a heat gun. (Be sure to wear a respirator for this process.) The black trim looks quite striking next to the brick wall.
We still need to find a nice wood trim piece to finish off the top of the paneling where it meets the brick and to finish the space under the shelf. But we got ahead of ourselves and expanded the remodeling up the stairs to the hallway. The brick project turned out so nicely, we decided to remove the floor tiles in that entryway area and install a natural stone floor. One improvement just leads to another. We’ll never be totally finished.
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