White Wash, German Smear, or Slurry

Adding any of these decorative washes is a great way to change the look of your home or property. In our guide, we breakdown the 3 main types of decorative wash. We'll discuss the differences of each type and how to decide on the best look for your property.

These types of washes are often regarded as "shabby chic", "antique", or "french country". As you may have noticed, it's a look that has become popular with higher-end new constructions homes. As a result, the popularity of decorative washes has increased over the last 5 years as people look to modernize their existing homes and businesses.

This unique change looks great on exterior brick and stone or on the interior in places like the kitchen, fireplace, or accent wall. Another reason property owners opt for a decorative wash is because it's a cost effective way to change the look of your property without having to alter the structural integrity.


Whitewash, German Smear, & Slurry

When it comes to decorative wash styles there are differences on how each term is defined, what material are used for each method, and the final look that each achieves.  However, when researching online, you'll find inconsistent information. This makes it difficult for you to choose the look you desire and clearly communicate that to your contractor. Therefore, let's go over the three most popular options you'll want to know about.


decorative brick white wash


White wash is a mixture of water and paint, the thinner the paint, the more the brick color will show through. Furthermore, you can get a variety of different looks just by testing different thicknesses of paints. Whitewashing is generally the lightest coating of the three brick wash methods and is typically done two ways.

  1. An overall coat of thinned paint covering all of the brick and mortar.
  2. Tactfully coating areas with thin and thick paint, and then scrubbing or washing away the wet paint in some areas. As a result giving the brick a worn look.


lime wash decorative wash

German Smear

A type of mortar wash, German smear is achieved by tactfully smearing a mixture of mortar and portland cement onto the brick, leaving some of it exposed. Typically this process is done with white mortar. You can also achieve a variety of looks with the German Smear depending on how it's applied and the thickness of the coats. With this decorative wash you can expect a more "textured" look with some thinner and thicker spots. Most noteworthy, you'll usually only see German Smear on high-end construction and historic properties.


slurry brick wash home

Slurry Wash

Slurry is another type of mortar wash that is done by completely coating the area with several thick layers. Slurry uses the same materials as a German Smear but differs in the application. With a slurry there is full coverage of the masonry producing a stucco-type look but still allows the brick texture to show through. Typically, slurries are done with slightly tanner mortar colors. This is an excellent way to achieve the stucco look without the maintenance and cost of traditional stucco.

Each of these mortar wash looks have become increasingly desirable in recent years as a way of giving the home a rustic but modern look.

decorative wash guide download
What Decorative Wash is Right for You?

You may be wondering which decorative wash would best suite you. However, before you dive into choosing what look you like, we recommend a few preliminary steps.

  • The first step is to find out if your HOA will allow your home to be altered with this type of style. Many HOAs have strict restrictions on what type of alterations can be done to your property. So before spending the time and energy in researching, have a talk with your HOA to see if it's allowed. If you are adding a wash to the interior of the home then you don't have to worry about this step.


  • Second, you will want to consider what type of surface you are wanting the wash applied to. The masonry surface, whether it be brick, stone or stucco, needs to be structurally sound and free of any cracks or deterioration. Luckily, any masonry company that would apply the wash should also be able to repair the structure and get it ready for application.


  • Lastly, but most importantly, you want to consider your own taste and style. Decorative washes are permanent and are difficult to remove once applied. Make sure you find the style you'll be happy with for years to come! We recommend looking at a couple of different sites for inspiration. Houzz is a great resource for searching different home improvement projects. Pinterest has a huge database of photos. Just search the different types of washes and save your favorites. Google images is also helpful and can lead you to some helpful pages or articles. Here's a great blog post that talks about each decorative washes and has descriptive pictures to help you decide.
The Difference
Trained Experts
Our decorative wash crew only does decorative wash, and they do it best.
Proven Techniques
We know what works and how to achieve the look you want.
Choose Any Color
Choose from almost any color and we can deliver.
Decorative Wash Experts
Getting Started
We'll help you determine the look and color you are looking to achieve, and then tell you how we are going to accomplish your goal.
The Consultation
One of our specialized technicians will meet with you for a tour of the property and what is to be stained.
We'll Get Started
Upon approval of the estimate, we'll arrange the scheduling and let you know exactly when the work will begin.
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Everything you need to know about whitewash.
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