Z-Brick Removal #2

Z-Brick Removal #2
In the first installment of Kitchen Renovation Nightmares I began a discussion of removing Z-Brick.  The prior owner of our house covered all of the kitchen and laundry walls in faux brick (Z-Brick).  We wanted to redo our kitchen and the Z-Brick had to go!  Of course this was harder than we thought.

Our house is over 60 years old, and we did not want to have to demolish the walls.  As I mentioned last time, I learned about a technique called skim coating that I hoped would fix the problem.  I determined to test the technique.  I chose a section of wall in the laundry room as my test area.

Z-Brick is affixed to the wall with a cement-like material.  The “bricks” come off somewhat easily with a hammer and pry bar.  However, the wall surface that is left is pretty bad, with chunks removed, globs of cement, and very rough sections of cement.

This next view gives you a better idea of how rough the wall is after taking off the bricks.

In order to prepare the surface for skim coating, I proceeded by knocking off the globs of cement with a hammer and putty knife.  This left me with a “smoother” surface with chunks of plaster missing:

My next step was to power-sand the wall with coarse grit sandpaper.  This gave me a more uniform surface that still had many chunks missing:

From here, I decided to patch the areas where there were open spots, dips, and holes.  I used light spackling compound for the patching.  Once the compound was hard, I sanded it:

The final step before beginning the skim coat was to prime the surface.  For this purpose, I used Zinsser® Bulls Eye 1-2-3® Water Base Primer paint.

The test area was now ready for skim coating.  While the picture makes the area look smooth, it was definitely quite rough.

Next time, I will go through the actual skim coating process I followed.  I found over time that some things worked and some did not.

Until then.

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.

So You’ve Decided to Move

So, you’ve decided you want to move, and now you have to sell your house.

Trust me.  This is going to be much harder than you think!

Take a look at this link for 9 things you learn when you sell your home.  Pay attention to number seven, and you will see that I am not the only one with “pipe blight”.  Check out the plumbing chapter of Everything Is Harder Than You Think to see the joys of plumbing that I have experienced.

Number eight of their things to learn is titled, “Everything will take longer than you think”.  Hmmm… sounds familiar.

I have many stories to share regarding preparing your house for sale.  I will be posting them as often as I am able over the next few months.

If you have any stories of your own, please feel free to share them.  It is always good to know that you are not alone, and you could find unexpected friends and help too.