Consider Your Mortar Choice Carefully

You may be surprised to learn that mortar can constitute up to 24% of the area of a brick wall. So, it makes sense that the mortar color has a significant effect on the overall appearance of a home. When brick choices were limited – such as simple red or yellow – the mortar colors were also more standard.

Today, however, you have dozens of brick formats and styles to choose from. Many popular bricks have multiple tones, random distressing or strong highlights that can be down played or accentuated using different mortar colors.

To illustrate this point, here are four pictures of the same brick installed with light and dark mortar.

This homeowner chose a dark mortar with Nottingham Tudor brick. This choice accentuates the dark flecks in the stone and ties into the darker window trim.Nottingham Tudor Darker Mortar 2

This close up image gives us a better look at how brick detailing and furnishings can be coordinated with dark mortar for a dynamic look.Nottingham Tudor Darker Mortar

In the following example, the home designer went with a light mortar. The finished look is monochromatic and classic. Now, if you compare this image to the home above, isn’t it surprising how different the overall look is even though the same brick was used?Nottingham Tudor Lighter Mortar 2

Again, this close-up really shows how lighter mortar creates a monotone look as the brick primarily matches the mortar color. We see more contrast between the brick/mortar walls and landscaping, doors, windows and roof – perhaps a more elegant approach.Nottingham Tudor Lighter Mortar


Create an inventory of your brick preferences using your smart phone camera or perhaps with a Pinterest board when you are planning your home design. This will provide a visual reference for you and your builder. Be sure to note the mortar color when you are viewing and evaluating brick samples from your builder. As colored masonry cement can cost a little bit more than standard gray, it’s best to know this cost ahead of time. It can be well worth the additional money to get the finished look that you want.

Choosing a brick without seeing how the mortar affects the finished look could leave you with an outcome you don’t love. Planning ahead means you won’t make an uninformed decision that might affect either your final design or your budget.


You can also vary mortar color by using different colored sand. For example, use white sand instead of brown sand with standard gray mortar, if different sands are available in your area. This is sometimes referred to as “poor mans” colored mortar.