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Building and Decorating a Dolls House

Using Realistic Brick Compound and Stencils


This is a step-by-step guide to creating realistic brick and stone finishes using Realistic Brick Compound and Stencils. The basic principle is very simple and not unlike other types of decorative stenciling. The only real difference is that instead of using paint you will be applying Realistic Brick Compound which produces the authentic look and feel of real bricks or stone. The material is very versatile so with a little experience users can develop their technique and create their own unique finished effects.

 Realistic Brick Compound is a very easy material to work with. The key to its ease of use is the air drying quality of the compound as it allows unlimited working time so there's no need to rush and very little material is wasted. If you do make a mistake or get in a mess there's no need to worry - simply scrape the compound off and wipe the wall surface clean with a damp cloth, then re-apply. After application the compound will dry and set hard after about an hour or so, but it can still be cleaned off if required by first re-wetting it. When the house is finished and you are completely happy with the application, the compound should be sealed with a clear matt varnish which will make it permanent and waterproof as well as enhancing the finished colour.

Building and Decorating a Typical Dolls House Kit

The dolls house featured here is the Main Street Corner Shop (1:12 scale) which is a typical MDF dolls house kit. This house is relatively small and can easily be finished with one bag of Realistic Brick Compound and one stencil (unless you choose to combine other colours and patterns as we are doing here).

Undecorated Dolls House Kit
Decorated Dolls House
and After - Dolls House Kit Exterior Decorating

As with most dolls house decoration it is generally easier to apply the realistic brick compound to the parts before assembly. It can be applied to houses that have already been built if necessary, but depending on the design of the particular house it may take longer as it can be fiddly working around all the mouldings and window frames etc. Either way it's a good idea to plan ahead.

The first stage is to prepare the various parts of the kit prior to application. It is usually a good idea to assemble the kit without fixing, just to see how all the parts fit together and sand parts where necessary. Then identify all of the surfaces which are to be bricked and paint with a cement mortar colour using matt emulsion paint (after the finish is applied, this mortar colour will be visible in between the bricks). Finally, mask any areas on the walls where you do not want to apply the brick finish i.e. where window sills / frames and signs fit etc..

Undecorated Dolls House Parts
Unpainted Dolls House Parts
Painted Dolls House Parts
Dolls House Parts after Painting and Masking

The next stage is to prepare the Realistic Brick / Stone stencil ready for use. Spray the back of the stencil thoroughly with a low-tack stencil adhesive and allow it to dry for a few minutes. When using a new stencil second coat of adhesive is recommended. The stencil should feel tacky to touch, but the adhesive should not come off on your fingers, if it does you should leave it to dry for a little longer. The stencil should remain tacky for several hours of repeated use, but when necessary it should be lightly re-sprayed with adhesive. This is very important to achieve good results, otherwise when the Realistic Brick Compound is applied it may bleed underneath the stencil.

Brick and Stone Pattern Stencils
Brick and Stone Stencils - Apply Low-Tack Stencil Adhesive Before Use

Prepare some Realistic Brick Compound by gradually adding water and mixing until it reaches a smooth easily spreadable consistency - it should be a soft smooth paste, but not runny. The consistency is not absolutely critical, but it does affect the ease of use. The realistic brick compound mix will remain workable all the while it is kept moist so if it starts to dry after a while simply add more water to extend the working time. This makes the material very easy to work with as you can work at your own pace without rushing. Also, it is very easy to clean up and to rectify any mistakes.

Realistic Brick Compound Mixed with Water
Mix Realistic Brick Compound with Water to from an easily spreadable consistency
Brick & Stone Application

Position the stencil on the wall of the house so that the bricks are correctly aligned with the edges of the wall and press it down firmly ensuring all areas are in contact with the wall. Spread the compound mix over the stencil ensuring it is all covered then use a pallet knife to remove the surplus compound to the level of the stencil. The technique is similar to icing a cake so I am told. Once it is smooth and level carefully remove the stencil to reveal the bricks (there's no need to wait for the compound to dry).   Note that the compound can be left a little thicker and rougher if required depending on the desired finished effect.

Brick Stencil on Dolls House Wall
Brick stencil positioned on wall
Apply Brick Compound to Dolls House Wall
Apply compound and smooth out evenly
Remove Stencil to Reveal Bricks
Remove the stencil to reveal the bricks

The stencil should now be rinsed in clean water and dried by pressing between two dry cloths on a flat surface. The stencil adhesive is not water-soluble so the stencil should remain tacky after washing and drying. The application can now be continued by applying the stencil to the wall next to the bricks which were previously applied and overlapping one or two courses - this will ensure that the bricks remain in alignment and there will be no visible joins. The compound can now be applied as before up to the edge of the bricks already applied, and the stencil removed to reveal the continued bricks. The whole process is repeated over and over until the whole wall is covered.  Extra large stencils are available as an option to speed up the application process.

Brick stencil positioned on wall
Applying Brick Compound to Dolls House
Apply compound and smooth out evenly
Remove Stencil to Reveal Bricks
Continuation of brick application by overlapping stencil
The edges of panels are finished in a similar way, but it is important to ensure that the stencil is correctly aligned at the corners so the compound joins creating the effect of whole bricks.
Dolls House Wall Panel Edges
Brick stencil positioned on wall
Bricks on Dolls House Door Edges
Apply compound, smooth out evenly & remove stencil
Several detail stencils are available for creating quoins etc. These can easily be applied in a similar way.
Dolls House Quoins Stencil
Quoin stencils positioned on wall
Brick Compound Applied to Quoins
Apply compound and smooth out evenly
Stencil Removed to Reveal Quoins
Remove the stencil to reveal the Quoins
The stone finish is applied here using Grey compound and a Rough Stone stencil. The technique is similar to applying the brick finish except that the compound is applied slightly thicker and the surface is made uneven using the pallet knife to create a more authentic rough face on the stones. Although the stone pattern appears random, there is a repeat in the stencil pattern which allows it to be continued without any visible joins.
Stone Pattern Stencil
Rough stone stencil positioned on wall
Stone Compound Applied Unevenly
Apply compound and create uneven texture on surface
Remove Stencil to Reveal Stone Effect
Remove the stencil to reveal the stones
Finishing off the Dolls House

After the finish has been applied it should be left for several hours to completely dry, it should then be lightly sanded as this generally improves the appearance by removing any imperfections and sharp edges and creating a more natural finish. It is easy to remove any unwanted compound at this stage by wetting it, scraping off and wiping clean. Areas can easily re-applied by repositioning the stencil and applying more compound as necessary. Once completely finished the masking tape can be removed to expose any areas which were masked previously.

Brick Compound Applied to Dolls House
Brick and stone applied
Compound Sanded and Shading Added
Finish shaded with acrylic paints

To finish off we recommend sealing the finish by applying a coat of clear matt varnish. This will add water resistance and strength to the brick compound finish and also enhance the colour. Many varnish types are suitable, but we strongly advise testing on a small sample before use as results can vary. We have found that solvent based varnishes usually produce deeper finished colours than acrylic ones. Care should be taken when applying acrylic varnishes as these can soften the realistic brick compound finish during application so re-brushing wet areas excessively could damage the finish.  We currently recommend Polyvine Dead Flat Decorators Varnish as this produces good results and is available to order on our website.

Compound Sealed with Matt Varnish
Unvarnished < > Varnished (solvent based)

If desired, the finish can be shaded to create a more authentic or weathered effect - we find that acrylic paints work well. Shading can be done either before or after sealing the compound with varnish as described above.  The characteristics of the compound change when sealed with varnish so the  shading technique will differ.  Before sealing with varnish the compound material is very absorbent and lighter in colour ..Gently tinted acrylic paint can be dabbed onto random bricks it will soak in and spread - this makes the process very quick and easy. The disadvantage of shading before sealing is that the compound colour will change when wet by the paint and as it dries and when sealed with varnish so it is difficult to control and predict the finished effect.  Shading after sealing is easier as you can visualise the finished effect as you work, but it takes a little longer.  With a bit of practice shading can greatly enhance the finished effect  ..We recommend practicing on a test piece first to ensure you achieve the desired effect.

Finished Dolls House Brick and Stone Effect
Finished Bricks
Finished Dolls House Brick and Stone Effect
Finished stone & brick quoins
Finished Dolls House Brick and Stone Effect
The finished decorated dolls house
Materials Used (available from Bromley Craft Products)

Realistic Brick Compound - Red & Grey colours. Each bag will cover an area of 0.5 square metre approx.

Realistic Brick & Stone stencils - STR12, RST12, QS12A, QS12B
One stencil is usually sufficient as they are re-useable.

Pallet Knife

Clear matt varnish - Clear Matt Varnish Polyvine Dead Flat Decorators Varnish or other compatible varnish. Low tack Repositionable stencil adhesive spray - Craftmount / Stick & Spray or similar.

Other Materials: Matt Emulsion paint for mortar colour- small sample pots from DIY stores are ideal. Masking tape.


Products can be ordered directly on this website or by telephone on 01825 732515. click here. We also attend all major dolls house shows where we demonstrate our products and display models finished with our products. See Show Dates or phone for further details.

To see Application Video click here