Cinder Block Wall Transformation

Hello lovely readers! Today I’m sharing a really cool technique that you can use on any block or brick surface. Armed only with some paint and plaster I took our garage cinder block wall from drab to dapper.

I needed a nice backdrop for staging my furniture renovations when I photograph them for the blog. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together, but I had an idea in my head. I really love how it came out and the wall is now ready for the limelight.

Take a look at how the wall looked before. It was originally painted white by our painter when we built the house. You’ll notice a few spots of my cream paint that I started applying…I caught myself just in time to snap a before picture.

Materials

Step 1. First Paint Color

I chose three paint colors for my layers. Since my walls were already painted white, the white would actually act as another color layer. If your cinder block walls are not painted and are likely gray in color, then the gray undertones will make your end result look a little darker, but surely just as beautiful.

 

IMG_1655

Here I am using my mini roller to apply the first color, a creamy off white (Glidden’s Meeting House White). I rolled in all directions all over the wall careful to leave white parts exposed. You are not aiming for full and uniform coverage with this technique, but rather sloppy and sporadic strokes.

2. Add Your Second Color

I made a maroon color by mixing some brown, black and red paint I had. I applied it as my second color. I rolled it on also sporadically going over some of the cream as well as leaving some of the cream and white parts exposed.

All the paints I used were leftovers of latex paint I had. I don’t know that I’d use chalk paint for this finish. Because to make chalk paint move and go a long way you use water. Either by thinning the paint beforehand or misting as you paint.

If paint is watered down, it will seep into all the nooks and crannies of your blocks reducing the textured effect. If you dry brush it on (no watering) you will get a nice textured effect but you will quickly use up your chalk paint on such a large surface. I think latex worked out well for this project.

3. Add Your Final Color

For my final color I used Valspar’s Carbonized, an off black color.

As you roll over each prior layer of color and with the texture of the cinder block, you start to achieve a gorgeous mirage of depth and colors. There really is no wrong way of doing this. Because the paint will be only slightly showing after you apply the plaster, you can go crazy with your rolling strokes! I first tried this technique with a paint brush but I didn’t like the look I was getting. With only a minimal amount of paint on the roller I was able to beautifully accentuate the wall’s texture.

Here is the wall after the 3 paint colors. Pretty wild huh? If you really wanted a funky industrial look, you could stick with this. But I wanted a more subtle and neutral canvas for my background with an exposed brick look.

Last Step: Add Your Plaster

I had originally bought Plaster Tex to create a German Schmear brick wall in our kitchen.  I honestly was a little scared to use the PlasterTex on the brick since I had never worked with it. So instead I used mortar and it came out really well. And the upside was I now had a gallon of PlasterTex to play with on our cinder block wall. I wasn’t so worried about messing things up in our garage!

Our Kitchen

Once I opened up the PlasterTex I loved the consistency. It was creamy and textured at the same time.  Prior to application I tinted it by mixing in about half a cup of the beige paint per half a gallon of the plaster. The plaster is like cake batter so it was easy to mix in the paint by using my trowel.  I folded in the paint over and over until it was completely blended in with the plaster.

I know this product is pricey and if you’re covering several walls you will likely need more than a gallon. I think perhaps you could achieve a similar effect with joint compound since it is used to add texture to walls like Christy from DOUBLEKNOTTED did on her walls. This could be a more economical way to do this project.

The technique I used for the finishing details was to apply  layers of the plaster in swooping motions with my trowel. Leaving parts where the colors of paint are exposed is what’s going to give your wall a really neat smeared and exposed brick look.

I was careful not to cake the plaster on as I did not want a heavy look. I played with it and went back over certain parts skimming the plaster down.

Occasionally step away from the wall to see if you like how it’s looking. You can leave more color exposed too if you like. Below is a video demo of the plaster application process.

Video Demonstration

And that is it! What do you think? Isn’t it beautiful! This part of our garage looks like a cool studio now…I try hard to ignore the messy clutter everywhere else.

This was a really easy way to make a bland wall look amazing and change the whole aesthetic of the space. It’s the perfect backdrop for several design styles, from rustic chic to boho to modern industrial.

And I’ve made great use of it as my staging wall for my furniture renovations. Take a look.

China Hutch Renovation

Thank you for stopping by friends! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE at the bottom of the page. I will be sharing some more exciting projects soon!

17 thoughts on “Cinder Block Wall Transformation”

    1. Yes, it is similar to a German Schmear or exposed brick wall. Thank you for sharing this pin. Her project came out dreamy! I did something similar on our kitchen wall (https://www.nooksinbloom.com/kitchen/). It’s one of my favorite projects in our house. Thank you for your comment Allison!

        1. Hi Genene!
          I used mortar for the exposed brick finish on our kitchen wall. I am not sure how it will look on cinder block but it seems to me since the blocks have texture like bricks that it could turn out really beautiful with the layering technique. If you have an inconspicuous area you could test it on, that might be helpful to make sure you like the results. I typically play with techniques until I get the results I like. Hope this helps. Good luck with your project!

      1. Hi! I don’t see why not. I would just double-check that the products you use are for outdoor use so they withstand the weather elements. But the aesthetic should look the same since it is cinder block also. Sounds like a beautiful idea! Good luck.

  1. Hi! I absolutely love what you did to this concrete wall and am hoping to do the same to our basement wall. What type of paint did you use? A latex paint-and is it a satin or flat finish?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Hillary! It was just some left over latex paint I had. And yes, the sheen was satin, but probably flat would work just as well for this look.
      That is exciting to hear of your project! I’d love to hear how it turns out. Good luck! ~Jessica

  2. I love, love, LOVE this look! My husband and I are looking for ways to up-do our cinderblock home (built in the 1940’s for the soldiers when they returned from war). I was wondering, has anyone tried this with exterior walls? We love the look, and the price can’t be beat when compared to stucco, but I’m nervous about the elements. Would this brand hold up with snow/water? If in a garage, or basement, how does it hold up to dampness?

    Great job on this wall! It’s inspiring to know you CAN make cinderblock look good 😄

    1. Hi Hayley! Thank you for your kind words! It really was a fun project and I was really happy with how it made such a difference on the wall. I don’t have the answers to your questions as I haven’t used this product on the exterior. But I LOVE the way you think. That is a creative finish for the exterior! I will tell you so far in our garage it has held up well to moisture. We don’t have air conditioning in this space and we do get a quite a bit of rain in Florida. However, I’ve only had the wall finished for a little over a year. Not sure the long-term results…I will try to reach out to the company with your questions and see what they tell me!

    2. The company shared the following. I hope it is helpful! Good luck with your project.
      Plastertex is an interior rated product only. We have exterior rated textures also. They would be Aquastone and Fauxcrete.
      Both on http://www.fauxstore.com

  3. Beautiful! I’ll be trying this on the cinderblock in my garage in the upcoming months. Been trying to find a solution to making the wall more attractive, and I think this is it. Will let you know how it turns out. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! It really does make an unexpected difference to a block wall. Please do share how it goes! Good luck Janet.

  4. Hi,
    I absolutely LOVE this look and want to try to recreate it on 1 wall in my basement but I am wondering if you think it could be possible to get that same look using a white wash instead of purchasing the plaster. I cannot find the plaster anywhere except for the website you linked and it seems like a lot of money. Also wasn’t sure how much I would need size wise. Anyways, thanks for the inspiration and I hope that mine turns out as cool as yours is!!

    1. Hello! Yes, this plaster unfortunately is on the pricey side. I just happened to have it because I had originally bought it for another project. I don’t know that a white wash (if you meant with paint) would achieve a similar look. Because of the plaster’s texture and thickness, it helps create dimension and depth needed to “expose” the underlayers of paint. I believe I used a little over half a gallon for this one wall. You may want to try a cheaper plaster. There is a second option I put in the materials list. Or, another option might be to use some white mortar (you may want to tint it to your liking). I used mortar to create our exposed brick wall/washed look on our kitchen wall and it came out very cool. Not sure if this helps you much! Good luck with your project. I’d love to hear how it goes!

  5. I love it! I have been going crazy trying all kinds of different ideas to cover up cinder block walls in my retail location. Every wall. I need a wall to photograph rooms . I cannot wait to try this!!

    1. Hi and thank you! Sounds like you have a nice size project on your hands but I’m sure it will look amazing once it’s all done. The good thing is it’s a super fast and fool proof technique. And the backdrop is really nice for photography. I wish you all the best with your project. How exciting! Would love to hear how it comes together.

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