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Q:How do I apply a German schmear to brick?
A:A “German schmear” (or “smear”) is a technique of whitewashing brick by smearing lightly colored mortar over the surface and mortar joints. After cleaning the brick surface of dirt, mold and loose mortar, mix one part water to five parts mortar. Mix until it forms a smooth, stiff flurry. Wet the brick surface thoroughly with water. Apply the mortar to the wet brick surface with a steel trowel, working from the top up. As you progress, wipe the surface with a dry rag to expose the under- lying brick, if you prefer to accent certain areas.
Q:I like the look of tray ceilings, but wouldn’t it be a bad idea to cut through the ceiling joists of my home to raise the middle of my bedroom ceiling?
A:That’s not how a tray ceil- ing is built. Avoid cutting through the ceiling joists to raise part of the ceiling. To achieve the tiered appearance, you’ll need to frame a second lower ceiling sur- rounding the area that you want to appear recessed. Once the second- ary ceiling is framed in place, you can finish it to match the original construction and then use trim and paint to contrast from the recessed area, which will give it a look of more height and depth.