How to Prepare Walls for Brick Veneer

What You'll Need
Waterproof building paper
Roofing nails
Wall ties (brick anchors)
Galvanized #6 nails

Preparing the exterior surface of a wall for a brick veneer is a simple and straightforward procedure. This article will supply you with some helpful information if you are planning to install a brick veneer on your home’s exterior.

First, the term “veneer” can have a dual meaning. In construction terminology, the term “veneer” is applicable to any exterior finish material and this includes standard brick masonry installed onto an exterior wall (either wood frame or concrete block). “Veneer” can also be taken literally to mean a thin superficial layer of the material installed directly onto the exterior wall surface. There are many thin-brick wall systems available that utilize brick only ½ to 1 inch in thickness as opposed to the standard 4-inch nominal (3 ¾-inch actual) thickness. It typically consists of a thin layer of stone or brick that is mounted with adhesives directly onto a substrate material and is installed in panels. You can consult with any of the various manufacturers about installation instructions and specifications for their product, and they can usually refer you to qualified installation contractors.

Step 1: Structural Support for the Brick Veneer

A fully assembled brick veneer is quite heavy and requires adequate structural support. Support is provided in the form of a brick ledge as part of the foundation wall. The decision to install a brick exterior is therefore made during the conceptual design phase of new home construction. A brick ledge is constructed simply by adding 4 ½ inches to the thickness of the foundation wall (extending the wall out from the exterior surface) when pouring the foundation. The height of the ledge is 6 inches lower than the top of the foundation wall. If your foundation does not have a brick ledge extending from the foundation wall, brick masonry is not an option for your home’s exterior.

Step 2: Be Sure to Provide a ½-inch Air Space between the Sheathing and the Brick

The brickwork bears directly on the concrete ledge, which is wide enough for both the nominal width of the brick and a ½-inch air space. A ½-inch air space between the plywood sheathing and the brick allows for the wall to “breathe” by providing an outlet for air and moisture. It also accommodates any irregularities in the wall surface.

Step 3: Install Waterproof Building Paper

Waterproof building paper can be installed onto the plywood sheathing in overlapping horizontal strips with roofing nails. The building paper will prevent water from entering the inner wall assembly since the brick veneer itself is not water-resistant.

Step 4: Install Wall Ties to Anchor the Brick to the Sheathing

Lateral support for the brickwork is provided by wall ties or brick anchors. They generally 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. The ties are installed at every fourth course and at 2-foot horizontal spacings.