The Wall

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The Inspiration

Those of us who lived through the seventies or watched reruns of The Brady Bunch would likely recall wood paneling as the choice of interior wall covering. An alternate option to paisley-motived wallpaper or the simple splash of coloured paint that adorned our living room quarters. As a part-time RE-agent, I have come across some homes that I swear had just been pulled out of a time capsule. Still with their faux-oak paneling, I envisioned the homeowners surfacing in polyester shirts and bell-bottoms... barely staying alive, staying alive.

Now that we're well into the new millennia, recent visits to home and decor shows have caught our attention to the latest trend. Exposed brick. No, not the sort that must weather the elements outdoors, but the bricks that become silent witnesses to family secrets, discussions over book clubs, cursing over burnt toast and giggling at teen slumber parties... indoors. Yessiree, we've come from the floral wall covering of the eighties, back to jagged cave-like home interior of early man.

Well if you're the lucky few that own a house from the turn of the century when abodes were made of solid brick and mortar, getting and reaching into that rich red and brown clay is only a matter of stripping away the plaster and paint. Nowadays, at least in North America, houses are built with mostly timber and drywall. Only a smidgen of brick and cement is used to reinforce the structure's foundation. So what's a guy with type-jengga of a home do to keep up with the latest fad? Install brick paneling, of course.


The Process

I miss the 'Old Country'. Where labour is cheap, negotiation a 'slam-dunk' and work gets done effectively and efficiently. This is the 'New World'. Where all the tools and equipment are meant to make Do-It-Yourself projects fun and affordable. Supposedly.

A completion date set for the Easter long-weekend would eventually become a week-long struggle. Installing the bricks was the easy part. These brick tiles were attached to mesh sheets measuring roughly 70 x 50 centimetres (that's 29 x 20 inches for you imperialists). Configuration of the tiles enable each sheet to interlock with a little cut and paste. My better-half did the measuring and cutting, yours-truly applied the adhesive and installation. A cinch... done in a day.

Applying the mortar and grout was a bitch. How does one ensure that mortar sticks vertically between brick tiles less than 1 cm thick?! Cement consistency was all too critical. Too watery... would drip and drop. Too dry... not pliable. Application with an icing bag... only works on YouTube. Use of a trowel and spacer... come again? This exercise took us the better part of our work week, or to be exact, our after-office-hours week, with my better-half sacrificing vacation time on the day of completion. So please explain to me... Why D-I-Y???


The Cost

Materials and tools; approx $900

Strained groins; 4

Sore backs; 2

Dire cramping; one thumb

Cracked and broken skin; on 20 (5 fingers on each hand)

Cement-lined lung tissues; two pairs

Heated arguments; half dozen

Nights of distressed and shortened sleep; 5

Days and hours forever lost from our lives; priceless.


The Result

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Wall done.


April 2012

© Prakoso Sastrowardoyo 2012