I recently removed some very deteriorated plaster from an interior brick wall. I used a rotary hammer and a traditional hammer and chisel. After having removed about half the plaster I stopped because I realized that both methods do a tremendous amount of damage to the brick underneith. Here are some photos:

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Here is the exterior. The window here is the same window. There are a few minor cracks in the mortar, but there are no cracks in the bricks like there are on the interior wall.

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Both methods are removing a fair amount of the brick's face. Compounding this is the fact that the motor is basically sand at this point.

This is the interior side of an exterior wall. IE, it is the inner layer of the brick. The exterior layer of brick was inspected and is in good shape.

I am wondering what my options are. Originally I was intending to expose the brick wall, but that seems like a crazy task at this point as all the mortar needs to be repointed. But can I just replaster over this mess or will that also come back to haunt me? What are my options for addressing this and how big of a problem is it?

Overall I am not sure what to do with the wall. I wanted to have a nice exposed brick wall along the entire north side of the house, but given the condition I am no longer sure what to do.

  • Let me just say, this is one of the better questions I have seen since I've joined. Clearly the bricks are aged, pipe is ran through it, mortar is nearly noneffective. What is on the other side of the wall? Does it see weather? Do you want to plaster it? Drywall it? put in a new run of brick? What kind of budget and time are you interested in expending and what is your ultimate goal (at this juncture)
    – noybman
    Sep 15, 2017 at 3:38
  • 1
    @noybman, great questions. I edited the post a bit about the wall and what is on the other side. I don't really know what to do with the wall. My budget and timeline are flexible. I can work on it slowly over time, but need to come up with a plan now so I know what to do.
    – Murenrb
    Sep 16, 2017 at 19:19
  • Please share with us where in the world are you. We are going to want to know the climate change you see. Apparently this wall was never insulated. Will it need to be for your comfort? Seeing the condition of this side of the wall, I realize the mortar could be damaged by the work you did, bit I see bricks that look cracked through in long rows. Please add a photo of the exterior wall near the window (Mid center, off to the right). The wall may not be ok any longer. Seeing the cracked brick, lets get a few good shots of the outside. The mortar needs to be intact, so do the bricks
    – noybman
    Sep 17, 2017 at 3:57
  • @noybman, great points. Check out the updated post. I am in Denver CO and the exterior wall was inspected when we bought the house. It has a few cracks in the mortar, but otherwise it is ok.
    – Murenrb
    Sep 17, 2017 at 23:19
  • Well, you are in a climate where you will want heat at a reasonable cost. Is this wall going to house a kitchen sink? It looks like the build is 2 runs of brick (you can confirm by looking at behind the piped areas. This is beyond what I know about restoration. looking at the exterior brick, you will want repointing done there FOR SURE. So It would be reasonable to ask masons to quote both sides. If your ultimate goal is expose the wall, you'll want to repair the brick inside to the point you appreciate the appearance, but you also want to ensure that the wall still supports the structure
    – noybman
    Sep 18, 2017 at 2:28

2 Answers 2


Crumbling mortar means it will be easier to remove the really bad bricks and replace them. You could replace only the worst and call the rest of them "rustic." I found reclaimed bricks for free that matched what was used in my 1865 home.

Is that pipe just a vent pipe for only (what I assume was) the kitchen sink that used to be there? If so, you could remove the pipe and replace it with an air-admittance valve inside the sink cabinet (if your building code allows that). Then patch the carnage the pipe made. Maybe patch every other or every third brick at a time.

I'm no mason and maybe we were just unlucky, or maybe this only happens to chimneys, but I had bad experience with plaster over brick. Parts of the chimney were covered with plaster (some also with beaver board) which apparently trapped moisture and caused them to rot and crumble into dust, leaving HUGE holes hidden behind the plaster.

  • The pipe is a vent, but it is on a separate drain from the main stack (the house has 3 drains). The drain needs to have one vent out to roof to be to code and since this is the only drain, it cannot be replaced with an AAV. The pipe more or less has to stay.
    – Murenrb
    Sep 20, 2017 at 3:03

Just a thought, being in a cold climate, you might consider the following if allowed by code in your area. If room space allow you, use 2" x 4" frame every 16" center and use Insulation and membraine 6ml than dry wall, or put the 2" x 4" flat @ 16" center and use 1.5" Foam insulation, you can also use 2" x 24" x 8' WallMate insulation and use 1" x 3" strips between joints, which the edges are already undercut to fit the 1x3 and use Tapkon screws to wall. After the drywall use the decorative about 3/4" thick venier Bricks.Or instead of drywall you can use cementboard a bit more costly. I like to use it for exterior or wet areas such as around bath tubs or showers. Just an Idea. Good luck.

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