Installing a brick veneer onto your home’s exterior is a job that generally requires the skills of an experienced brick mason. If you are curious about what is involved in installing a brick veneer, this article will explain the basic procedure. A brick masonry veneer is one of the more popular exterior walls finishes for many reasons. In addition to providing a pleasing texture and an accessible scale, the shape and dimension of standard brick allow for a variety of geometries and patterns. Furthermore, of all masonry materials and of building materials in general, brickwork offers one of the most fire-resistant construction methods available.
Step 1: Install Flashing onto the Foundation Ledge
Before the first course is laid, metal flashing is installed onto the top of the concrete brick ledge which will support the brick wall. The outer edge of the flashing is turned down over the edge of the ledge and the inner edge is turned up over the plywood sheathing but under the building paper.
Step 2: Install the First Course of Bricks
Pre-mixed mortar designed specifically for brickwork is easily obtainable. Begin by troweling mortar onto the concrete brick ledge for the first course. The leads are installed at the wall ends first to establish the wall planes and the course heights. It is imperative that the first course is laid straight and level to ensure that the subsequent courses will also be level.
Step 3: Provide Drainage by Installing Weep Holes
Rainwater is diverted out of the wall assembly by installing small metal tubes that act as “weep holes”. The tubes are spaced 18 to 24 inches apart in the horizontal mortar joint in the course above the metal flashing.
Step 4: Build the Wall One Course at a Time
Lay each course by first troweling on the horizontal bed joint, then apply mortar onto the brick end for the vertical head joint. Courses are laid in a stretcher pattern so that the vertical joints of every other course are aligned. A string line is stretched taut horizontally at each lead as a guide to align the upper front edge of the brick. As the wall increases in height, check to make sure that it remains level and plumb. Courses can be made to align with window sills and heads by varying the thickness of the mortar joint. The brick is laid onto steel angles that act as lintels above window and door openings.
Step 5: Install Wall Ties to Anchor the Brick to the Sheathing
A ½-inch air space is provided between the brick veneer and the plywood sheathing. The brick is anchored to the sheathing with wall ties or brick anchors. They consist of L-shaped strips of corrugated metal 1 by 6 inches long-nailed through the sheathing into the studs. The horizontal component penetrates into the brick veneer at the mortar joint. As the brick veneer increases in height, the ties are installed at every fourth course with 2-foot spacings along the entire horizontal joint.
Step 6: Finishing the Brick Veneer
After the last course is installed and as the mortar begins to harden, the mortar is tooled to give the finished joints a concave profile. The residual mortar is removed by scrubbing the wall surface with a brush.