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 Question re painting brick walls and mortar
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GN Goat

Posted - 2006 August 08 :  08:48:00 AM  Show Profile
I've looked at some past threads, but didn't see anything conclusive. What's the best way to paint brick walls? Is there a reasonably easy method of showing a contrast with the mortar, or do you leave it alone? Is there a good online clinic on the subject? Thanks, Dave
GN Goat

Country: USA | Posts: 69


Posted - 2006 August 08 :  09:09:02 AM  Show Profile

You can leave the brick the color it comes in and using a white/tan/gary water based paint fill in the mortar lines. Do this with a brush dabbing the paint into the mortar lines, then with a soft cloth moistened, wipe only the surface clean of the paint, leaving the mortar lines. If you take off too much paint, reapply and follow the same procedure. Check the Walthers catalog as there are several items you can use to simulate mortar. I belive there is a book out on building realistic structures from Kalmbach, check with your LHS to see what they might carry.

Now if you want to you can also paint your walls any color you desire; gray, tan, white, brown, etc to represent any color brick you want to. Use a plastic compatiable paint and go for it.


Santa Fe all the Way....Middle Division Emporia Sub Circa 1976 - 1986
Hoping someone someday will make a quality ACF 4600

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Michigan Central

Posted - 2006 August 08 :  09:33:09 AM  Show Profile
One method I have used is to do a wash of a thinned grey and then wipe off the tops of the "brick". Follow by misting on red oxide (or other brick colors) mixed with some others like browns dk greens and black.

In N scale it may not always be necessary to really hilite the morter - as it will often look exagerated

Obviously someone is buying MT fantasy cars, could it be you?

Country: China | Posts: 2998 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2006 August 08 :  10:23:10 AM  Show Profile
The trick is to first, paint the walls a much darker colour than wanted. This is because the lightness of the morter lines will lighten the bricks.
When the brick colour is fully dry - I do mean fully! Make up your mortar mix. Choose your colour, then dilute it with water and a little dish soap. Stir together and then its ready. Next, using a small brush, apply this liquid carefully to a wall. The wall needs to be lying flat, otherwize the mortar will just run off altogether. You will see the mortar creep into the joints. Leave wall alone until it's dry - and I mean dry! For a final touch you can drybrush - and I mean drybrush, some more of the brick colour onto the finnished wall.
It sound harder than it is.
Another way is to have black mortar lines. This is done with heavily diluted India Ink. The black is the easier method to do.
Good luck.


Oh for the days when coal was king and steam ruled.
For pics etc -

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Roger Perkins

Posted - 2006 August 08 :  10:24:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit Roger Perkins's Homepage
I love to build the DPM kits, so I have been experimenting with ways to make each unique by varying color of paint and mortar.

I liked the result of using an approach that is the reverse of what Michigan Central suggested.
I spray painted the building(s) with a red/zinc oxide colored flat paint or other brick-like color. After that is thoroughly dried, I use a contrasting color of Polly S for the mortar. I use a narrow foam brush and applied this paint essentially using a "dry brush" approach. Then I gently wiped the paint from the surface/face of the brick immediately while it is still damp.
Some of this Polly S remains in the mortar spaces.
I have used this same mortar technique on brick buildings that I did not paint initially. It covers the "plastic shineness."

This can be done and washed off if one does not like the look.

Country: USA | Posts: 3351 Go to Top of Page

GN Goat

Posted - 2006 August 09 :  08:36:22 AM  Show Profile
Thanks guys! Very helpful. The forum's experts provide the answers as usual. Regards, Dave

GN Goat

Country: USA | Posts: 69 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2006 August 09 :  10:14:31 AM  Show Profile
A simple method, but it needs care-

Leave brick the color it started or paint the brick to whatever color you wish.

Mix up a very thin wash of Durham's Rock Hard Putty to be used as the mortar. It can be used in its natural color or tinted with a shading of paint. Brush on and then quickly and ever so gently, use a small damp sponge to lift the mix off of the brickface so that only the mortar at the joints remains visible. You will need to do this 3-4 times to get the desired effect. Let it dry thoroughly between applications.

Member of Atlas board and

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Posted - 2006 August 09 :  10:36:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit randgust's Homepage
I've used white shoe polish over the years as the 'mortar'; it wipes off fairly rapidly and doesn't react with any model paint I've ever seen. The little spongy applicator thingy actually works well. I slop it on and then wipe it off with tissues.

My 'latest' discovery was working over the walls with chalks after the mortar lines were in, that worked really really well on the Hotel Monte Vista project. Here's a 'before and after' of mortar lines with and without the chalking:

Finished result was the best brick I've ever done, at least.

Santa Fe Albuquerque Third District in N
Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing,
with tools he is all. Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

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Posted - 2006 August 09 :  11:13:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit leighant's Homepage
I have used white tempera paint, white water color, something that will flow into cracks and can easily we wiped away from top surface. Solvent-based paints usually cover top surface "too well" (not good for this purpose) Been doing variations on this for 30 years.

New experiment- white mortar between red-brown bricks, then overall light coat of acrylic white to represent whitewashed brick, with white color coming off and old brick texture starting to show through...

Similar thing in reverse-- wash of diluted black water color to bring out cracks between logs...

Santa Vaca & Santa Fe Rwy. Holy Cow!

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Posted - 2006 August 09 :  12:15:40 PM  Show Profile
Paint darker than you want, then mix small amount of wall board mud with water and apply.

Let dry completely then using a damp sponge remove that witch you donít want.

The neat thing about wall board mud is if you donít like the results just soak in warm soapy water to remove.

WBM can be tinted with cheap (Wal-Mart) acrylic art paints.

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Posted - 2006 August 09 :  3:36:57 PM  Show Profile
My methods are similar to everyone else. Paint the brick a darker color than intended, then for a wash for the motar I use rubbing alcohol mixid with paint of the desired motar color. Brush on the motar wash and it will fill in the motar lines, and lighten the brick color.

It's all scenery.

Country: USA | Posts: 2672 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2006 August 09 :  8:50:10 PM  Show Profile
I did the building below similar to what others mentioned. I sprayed all the walls with Floquil Aged Concrete out of a spray can. Then handpainted all the brick parts (quite a bit of delicate work in n-scale) with Badger ModelFlex Maroon Tuscan Oxide Red. I ended up having to touch up the brick parts in a few places where it didn't cover as fully as I wanted it to. After that I applied a mortar wash using a combination grey paint, water, alcohol mixture to get the motar lines to jump out and to wash the brick a bit and give it a weathered look.

The mortar wash recipe comes from the Model Railroader book Building City Scenery by John Pryke.

For light colored concrete mortar washes use:

1 Part Concrete paint
9 Parts Alcohol
7 Parts Water
2 Drops of dishwashing soap

For dark colored black mortar washes use:

1 part india ink
60 parts alcohol
2 drops of dishwashing soap

To make the light concrete mortar wash I used a syringe to measure out the proportions. You won't need much of the mortar wash as it goes a long way. Drip the brush in and just touch the section of brick you want to "mortar" and it will instantly soak right into the cracks. Just keep stirring it up as you go. If you want the wash to look heavier it will dry within 10-15 minutes and you can go back and recoat the brick a second time.

Once fully assembled I weathered the building with pastel chalks that I rubbed against a piece of sandpaper to make a little powdered pile. Then I used a dry paint brush to brush the powder onto the areas that I though needed it. Added a little rust here and there and "chipped" the concrete (or at least attempted to) around the loading docks. A little patience goes a long way, but the results are worth it. :)

- jamie

Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2006 August 10 :  02:13:02 AM  Show Profile
Originally posted by leighant

I have used white tempera paint, white water color, something that will flow into cracks and can easily we wiped away from top surface. Solvent-based paints usually cover top surface "too well" (not good for this purpose) Been doing variations on this for 30 years.

I think the last sentence is key. Try them all, don't use the same technique on everything. Unless you are modeling Levittown(sp?) out on Long Island in the 50s, you want as much variation as possible. (The first of the cookie-cutter developments)

Who knows, if you're good at it, you might be able to have two of the same DPM kit and nobody will notice.

Bob in IDaho

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Posted - 2006 August 10 :  11:00:31 AM  Show Profile
If photography is important to you, please be aware that the appearance in a picture is going to be quite different from the appearance to the eye. Take a few test shots of a finished wall before continuing on in the project.

Member of Atlas board and

Country: USA | Posts: 286 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2006 August 11 :  10:33:23 AM  Show Profile
Most people use white as a color for mortar. The actual color of mortar is determined by the color of the sand used in the making of mortar. In my area the sand is dredged from the river bottom and is basically a brown color pulverized sandstone. Also some N scale buildings have bricks the size of concrete block. Using a color such as white only makes the size discrepancy that much more obvious. Another problem is some N scale buildings have brick that have rounded edges instead of the crisp angkles found in real life. Again using a high contrast color such as white only makes the discrepancy more obvious. Use a subdued color such as brown to lessen the contrast.

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GN Goat

Posted - 2006 August 14 :  08:19:49 AM  Show Profile
Thanks again guys. Very helpful. The photos are great and will give me something to shoot for. Regards, Dave

GN Goat

Country: USA | Posts: 69 Go to Top of Page
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