Z-Brick Removal #1

Z-Brick Removal #1

Well, it is time for the first installment of Kitchen Renovation Nightmares. This time we will discuss the joys of removing Z-Brick. What is Z-Brick you ask?

Z-Brick is a plastic material made to look like real brick. Each “brick” is about an eighth of an inch thick. The bricks are glued or cemented to the wall to give the appearance of real brick. The product is still around, and it is in many houses where this was done as far back as the 1950’s.

Depending on how well this was done, it may look good or bad. The prior owner of our house had done a fair job as you can see below. However, over the years we had really grown to dislike this stuff, and we wanted to remove it as part of our kitchen renovation.

If you search on the web for “removing Z-Brick”, you will find that almost everyone tells you to demo the walls, and put in new drywall. Some people tell you to put the drywall over the Z-Brick. This is because the “cement” they use to affix the Z-Brick is pretty much like regular cement. It doesn’t come off easily, and it often takes chunks of the wall with it, or it leaves a big glob of cement where the brick used to be.

The demo method is great, if you are a contractor or a wiz at drywall. If you are not, then you need to have a contractor do this. It gets worse, if you have lath and plaster underneath as we did.

So what else can you do?

After watching a number of videos on the web about hanging drywall, I came across a procedure called skim coating. This is a technique for finishing walls that consists of applying thin coats of joint compound to the walls to give a smooth paint-able finish.

After reading an article and watching a number of videos, I decided to do a test to see if this would work on a wall with the Z-Brick removed. If it didn’t work, I would then have to go ahead and remove the plaster and lath, and put in drywall.

Of course the videos make it look easy to cover almost any nightmare texture on any wall. Don’t be fooled; Everything Is Harder Than You Think. However, this process does work, if you are willing to put in the effort.

The next couple of blogs will demonstrate the process I used for my test and the results. The picture below shows the section of wall that I started with after removing some of the bricks. The bricks come off easily enough with a pry bar and hammer.

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