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Fake brick walls

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Set Design and Construction
Forum Discription: Post your questions or suggestions about designing or building a set here.
Printed Date: 4/26/18 at 5:11am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Fake brick walls
Posted By: Guests
Subject: Fake brick walls
Date Posted: 1/22/04 at 9:32pm
We are doing Brigadoon with our local high school. The director would like 3D rocks on the walls of some of the buildings. So I have 3 questions - How do you make them? How do you adhere them to the flats (ours are luan) and most importantly how do you remove them without tearing up the luan so you can use them again? Any help in this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 12:49am
If you're looking for fake STONES (and not brick) you can use that foam sealant in a can (for weather sealing around pipes and windows), but be careful. A little goes a long way as it can expand up to 10X before firming up. Once set up, it can be painted to look like stone very convincingly. We used it to make a stone fireplace on our set for DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER. It comes off with a scraper or putty knife. A little sanding and a new coat of paint and they're back to being plain ol' flats.

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 1:52am
If you can find some old carpet padding paint it the brick colors and then cut it into brick sized chunks. Apply to luan with a bit of hot glue. When it is time to strike the set take a putty knife and pop them off (can reuse them many times!) These look awesome and are easy/cheap to make.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 1:54am
Was it brick or rock walls you wanted? For rock we have used thin pieces of stryrofoam packing. Just paint it then rip it into a variety of shapes and sizes. Apply with low heat hot glue, pop off with a putty knife.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 1:54am
Was it brick or rock walls you wanted? For rock we have used thin pieces of stryrofoam packing. Just paint it then rip it into a variety of shapes and sizes. Apply with low heat hot glue, pop off with a putty knife.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 12:43pm
Stone can be done in a number of ways. You can take sheets of white styrafoam and carve the shapes of the stones into it with a Dremel tool and paint as needed. This way you end up with big sheets of stone that you can tack to existing flats.

Another options is foam rubber, which can be torn to create rough stone like surfaces and then glued to a backing.

I saw a great way to do bricks once. Start with a luan backing painted black. Then take asphalt roof shingles and cut brick size pieces out of them. You can get red roof shingles, or paint 'normal' collered ones. You then glue these onto the backing in a brick pattern. The result is a little heavy but it looks great.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/23/04 at 9:35pm
Yes, you guys are right, I meant stone not brick, DUH! Thanks for the info. Who'd a thunk it was so easy? Now if I can just unearth my hot glue gun......

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 11/04/04 at 1:28pm
nice site  ty   want to do a fake rock wall in my living room   these ideas are great

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 1/06/05 at 11:44am
For fake brick, stone etc. there is one outstanding source; check out -   When painted properly you can't tell it from real brick from 3 feet away.  They have lots of stuff, all sorts of archetectual moldings, even fire plugs and armor.

Posted By: Stagestar2000
Date Posted: 1/06/05 at 6:39pm
Why do 3D when paint works just as well? Use a square sponge, dip in paint, squeeze until almost dry and press to flat.  Do the same thing in a highlight color. Then you only need to accent paint the grout!

"I am constantly amazed at the wealth of knowledge I do NOT have." -Ethyl Savage, The Curious Savage

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 2/11/05 at 4:09pm
The expanding foam in a can is best. Lay the flats down on the ground and make large dollops of foam. They expand and sort of come together a bit and create random shapes. They stick to the flats forever. I used this technique to create a stone fireplace. Once painted I looked so real that people were astonished when one person could pick it up and move it.

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 2/21/05 at 10:46pm
To LCT.  Thanks for giving that wonderful website for the fake brick.  Wanted to know, is the brick a sheet that would be applied to a flat?  Or is it stand alone?  How do you support it?  Thanks.

Posted By: PropMaster123
Date Posted: 5/21/05 at 11:38am
What my theator used for West Side Story set was cutting styrofome into long lines with a table saw then into bricks with a template (we made a few out of luan) and a box cutter. We put the bricks onto the flats via cocking. It sounds tedius, but if you have alot of help it goes by quickly. One more thing, remember to make sure the rows of bricks are level about every two to three rows. This will help you avoid having to re-do an entire wall of bricks. (I wish we had done this!)

Cracko Jacko!
       -West Side Story

Posted By: tbaxter
Date Posted: 9/11/06 at 7:11am
Provost Display rocks and such, which I've used a few times, comes (generally) in a 4X8' sheet.  One tip, purchase the thickest you can afford as it's wonderful stuff, but worthless once it gets dented.  The thin stuff will survive a production, but nothing after that.

Still, it's $$$ if you're doing a large set.  Better to use some of the other suggestions, which can be just as convincing, if you're worried about budget.

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 9/11/06 at 11:18am

I have a different way to paint brick:  Paint the grout color as a background.  Tape the grout joints with masking tape or duct tape the correct width for the grout joint.  This is particularly good if you are painting perspective on the flat or backdrop....the tape can be your vanishing point....pull it  tight and  it is straighter than a pencil line.  Then roll out the brick color...splattered, highlighted, whatever....much quicker than dipping and pressing a sponge for each brick.   Pull off the tape...nice clean lines.

"behind a thin wall of logic panic is waiting to stampede"

Posted By: Topper
Date Posted: 9/11/06 at 8:06pm
Joan 54 has a great technique.  You could also add texture to the brick by using a sanded paint (used to waterproof basements) or sprinkling the paint you already have with "ceiling texture" (the kind used for creating those popcorn ceilings).  The texture comes in bags that can be fine, medium and coarse and is available at most home improvement stores.

"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone

Posted By: Playwright
Date Posted: 9/11/06 at 11:15pm
I hate to be the 'fly in the ointment' but I have found that painted on brick looks exacltly like that- painted on brick.  Especially in the one CT I work where the audience is so close to the stage they can rest their feet on the stage. It's a very small space in a church basement with a low ceiling.  I directed a production of Norm Foster's "Here On The Flightpath" which takes place on apartment balconies that are side-by-side.  I insisted on and got brick panelling for the outside of the apartment buliding walls.  The audience raved about the set and I won the award for Best Set Design.  I'm sure in big spaces where the audience sits a fair distance from the stage and you have the technology with lights to make it appear to be 3-D painted on brick works magically.  But in the space I had, no matter how well painted the bricks may have been, they would have looked like painted on bricks.  I guess I'm too 'fussy' about realism.

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 9/13/06 at 8:56am
Oh...I agree Playwright...painted brick and painted anything will always look fake but realism is a hard thing to achieve on the stage....the last brick walls I painted had a view of Verona through the arches...even if the brick was real there was no way to make Verona real.  One of the problems with set design is getting your visual brain away from the movies and into the theater.  Some of the best sets I have  seen had nothing to do with realism but visually enhanced the action on the stage.

"behind a thin wall of logic panic is waiting to stampede"

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 9/13/06 at 10:41am
Your spot on Joan!
I experienced painting full back drops with Jimmy Punch, who painted most sets here back in the 60?s. His one alleged claim to fame, was he taught Rolf Harris how to paint on stage, before he became famous. While I think it might have been a bit suss?
However all his drops were of a similar style & that used by many others I worked with. We virtually painted with mops and brooms quickly & highlighted later with smaller brushes. Up close they look sloppy, but 20? or so away, they were great. Jimmy always said "you had to be able to place your minds eye in the Gods, while your painting & at best it was only an imagery support aid to the performance, not realistic!
I suppose his realistic claim to fame at the time, was in the way he finally pegged out on the stage of the Playhouse! He always had a roly weed [cigarette] hanging from the corner of his mouth & smoked it while he painted. He apparently started a fire while cleaning using spirits & he went up in flames!
From what I can remember from what was said at the time, his fag went out & he struck a match, which he did constantly. He may have been better off smoking tailor made 'Lucky Strike' instead!

Western Gondawandaland
turn right @ Perth.
Hear the light & see the sound.
Toi Toi Toi Chookas {{"chook [chicken] it is"}
May you always play
to a full house}

Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 9/15/06 at 7:45am

That's sad and a hideous way to die but somehow funny the way you tell it....makes us stop and think again about all of those "flammable" warnings that we ignore...and smokers (myself included) are the worst.  We had a local man ( no one I actually knew) explode a room where he was using contact cement....just the fumes....ka-pow.  I'll stick to water based paint.

One of the reasons that I like to paint backdrops is the need to use big brushes and rollers ( I haven't tried mops yet).  As a painter I tend to use smaller and smaller brushes and become fixated on one tiny spot....the drops make me loosen up, stand up and paint LARGE...

Anyways, we digress from the original question about realistic rocks....personally I've never painted any but would probably try the expanding foam...that sounds like fun.  I plannned (but never built) a stone wall for some play and was looking to buy  the fake stone that people put on the front of their is absolutely real but pretty expensive.  It is molded and hollow so it quite light....may build that wall some other day and try the foam first.

"behind a thin wall of logic panic is waiting to stampede"

Posted By: puck
Date Posted: 9/20/06 at 10:59pm
My experience with the expanding foam in trying to make stones, is that it has the tendency to look really extruded, and even dog turds.

IMHO, I love painting faux bricks, and it works great, but only if that highly theatrical style is consistant with the rest of the design. 

It also depends on what KIND of stones you're making.  There's field stones, flag stones, red brick, flat stone. 

I've only used the following formula for the natrual ones, like the flag, field or flat stones. 

If it's realisim you're aiming for, then  you can get some sheets of that blue foam insulation stuff, and cut stone shapes from that. 

If you paint it just like that, it looks like painted styro, lame, I know.  And then it looks like fake stones at the community theatre.

One technique that's kinda fun is to sculpt the blue foam stones with a knife a little.  Round the edges, make some nicks and cranies, sandpaper helps in the rounding / finishing.   You probably don't want to spray paint it because it'll melt. After the weathering is done, you can coat the styro in strips of musin and use white paint as a binder.  After that drys, you can go in with low tone, mid tones, and highlights, a spattering of the low tone color will give a bit of  coolness to it.  I usually lay them all out at once and do the spattering that way.  You could even if you wanted do a light spattering of the highlight color as well.   The muslin also makes them a little more durable.

Since they'll be placed on luan, a good industrial hot glue gun would work, and it can be easily scraped off!

That swift as quicksilver it courses through/The natural gates and alleys of the body,/And with a sudden vigor it doth posset/and curd,like eager droppings into milk,/The thin and wholesome blood.

Posted By: grovetx
Date Posted: 10/05/06 at 1:16pm
I built a set that was like an archaelogical dig.  We used the styrofoam insulation "boards" that you get from your local hardware store.  We first primed the material with paint and a little sand.  Then we made the lines like bricks in them by using a hot glue gun and melted them.  Finally we used a sponge technique to put the proper color with a watered down paint solution.  You can just adjust the depth of color by wiping it off in sections to make it look more real.

Posted By: puck
Date Posted: 10/25/06 at 2:03pm
In scrounging through a stack of the dreaded stock scenery, I encoutered 5 4'x8' sheets of plywood that had bricks carved into them. 

And so I inquired about these, because they looked fabulous; someone was bound to know what they were all about... or how they were made because community theatres almost always have a long memory about things.

And this old man told me, he was there the day they were made.  Someone marked out a grid onto sheets of plywood, and then routed the 'mortar' out, leaving, raised rectangles that looked like brick, not 2 feet away.  Apparently the sawdust piles were tremedous, and the old man seemed to think that these piles should have won some sort of award...he probably would have preserved them for posterity if he could have. 

At any rate, while time consuming, its yet more e plurabis unim of ways to make faux bricks. 

That swift as quicksilver it courses through/The natural gates and alleys of the body,/And with a sudden vigor it doth posset/and curd,like eager droppings into milk,/The thin and wholesome blood.

Posted By: reds
Date Posted: 10/28/06 at 9:34am
To create inexpensive bricks and stones you need a roll of brown paper (or paper bags) and cardboard(from boxes).  Cut the cardboard into the shape you want, the cut the paper a little larger.  Crumple up the brown paper (for texture), loosly wrap around the carboard and staple it around the edge.  You can paint it before or after you staple it to the wall.  The crumpling and wrapping gives it the 3-D look, and I just pop them off after I'm done, and stack them in boxes for future use.  It's easy for any crew member to make, is lightweight, is reusable, and looks great. 

Posted By: neilfortin
Date Posted: 11/20/06 at 10:20pm
You can also use paper mache and just apply it directly to your flats, it might be hard to get off tho. We have used it a number of times for large stone fireplaces, and to make stone columns for a lodge

Community Theater makes us smile

Posted By: Paramitch
Date Posted: 1/25/07 at 2:50pm
One method we used more than once, to huge success, was to cut out rounded chunks of styrofoam (leaving bottom edge flat), and then to spray paint them in two different shades of light and dark gray. (We actually got a deal on a bunch of styrofoam coolers and cut those up.)
The effect is not just one of color, but texture:  The spray paint reacts with the styrofoam to create a gorgeous "weathered" effect on the texture, actually eating into the foam in a few places. We then hot-glued the pieces onto the flats as needed.
However, BE CAREFUL AND TAKE PRECAUTIONS, as this does involve some fumes, so do it at your own risk!  To be as safe as possible, we did this only according to the following:
1.  Do it outside, in a nice open area with lots of fresh air
2.  Wear painters' masks to protect yourself from breathing the resulting fumes
3.  Remove kids and animals from the area before spraypainting
4.  Let the styrofoam dry thoroughly before using
Just wanted to make sure everyone's careful when doing this kind of thing where any fumes are involved. There's a negligible amount, but better safe than sorry.  But the result is gorgeous!
Hope it helps!

Angela Mitchell
Performing Arts Guide,
Twitter PerfArtsGuide

Posted By: theaterhelper
Date Posted: 2/20/07 at 12:12pm
These fumes are VERY bad for you... as in long-term cancer causing and in the short term can cause severe photosensitivity (sunlight becomes painful to your eyeballs) that can last for days and cause permanent eye damage.  If you must melt foam with spraypaint, wear a full face respirator... not just a mask.  Still this is not a safe technique.  In the 60s a lot of theater folk melted lots of foam and did lots of crazy things with products that produced lots of fumes.  I know many of them who can trace very serious health problems including certain headache disorders, color blindness, and breathing problems directly to these practices. 
Floral spraypaint is safe for use on foam, and won't melt it.  It's expensive though. 
Carving the brick shapes in styrofoam (or plywood) can be done a bunch of different ways from routering the basic shapes to cutting the basic shapes out and gluing them down.  There is a mini-rasp called a Sure-Form that is fantastic for texturing foam.  There are also Japanese saws with bamboo handles that are great for massive amounts of foam carving. 
There is a community theater I worked with when I was young that cut lots of bricks and stones out of homosote.  They took their time carving and texturing and made each brick and stone perfect.  Now, when they have a use for bricks or stones, they treat their surface with the grout colors, usually with a spongy texture, and then simply attach their bricks or stones with 2 screws each.  They use these very frequently, and sometimes adjust the colors with glazes or extra sponging for variation between shows, but the bottom line is that they have a product that looks great and the investment keeps paying for itself.  Every coat of paint just adds a little more texture and they seem to become more realistic with every show.  The homosote really holds up well with repeated use, but takes longer to carve initially because it is harder.  The biggest down side is that the homosote makes things very heavy, so the structure they attach it too needs to be built well.  Also, there are often lots of screws sticking out of the backsides of their flats, so they have to keep sheets of foam on hand to stick on these backsides of flats to keep actors safe from impalment.
To get texture on styrofoam, but more safely, I suggest mixing sawdust into your paint until it becomes kind of the texture of oatmeal or a little more runny depending on how much texture you want.  Do this on the surface with your base color (With bricks a brick red, and with stones a grey or tan) and then dry brush or spatter accent colors.  Finish with adding shadowy grout colors in your grout and your result will be very nice.  Another option is joint compound mixed with a little white glue.  (The white glue adds flexibility that will prevent it from chipping as easily.)  Or a roofing compound called Jaxan 600 also makes good texture. 

Shed some light on the dark side of theatre at

Posted By: Litewave
Date Posted: 11/15/07 at 8:40pm
For fake building materials like brick, stone, rock etc try - we needed lots of plastic brick and plastic slate roof. They shipped quickly and were about 30.00 a 4x8 sheet. You can staple the plastic bricks / rocks to your flats and remove them when your done.

Posted By: scottiatse800
Date Posted: 1/12/10 at 2:12pm
Another great source is -
Our product is 100% eco and looks great. The best brick skins are made of fiberglass, but they are heavy and toxic and expensive.  The most affordable is vacuum form but they are hard to work with and crack.  Our brick looks like fiberglass, has a nice thickness to it, is rigid and is the same price as vacuum form.

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