Good water-management details ensure durability
Facing a wood-framed building with brick is a good way to get the look of traditional masonry at a lower cost than traditional construction methods. Brick is fire- and insect-resistant, needs very little maintenance, and is one of the most durable wall claddings available — as long as flashing and moisture details are well thought out and executed.
Brick veneer is an attractive option from an energy standpoint because its lighter weight translates into lower transportation costs and simpler foundations. It is easier and faster to install than full-thickness brick. If the installation is carefully detailed to handle water intrusion and inward solar vapor drive, thinner brick should prove durable with a minimum of maintenance.
Because brick is so durable, salvaged brick often can be reused. But check it carefully and make sure it’s sound. Not all salvaged bricks should be used outside where freezing temperatures can be expected.
Brick-veneered walls must be painstakingly detailed to prevent water intrusion, because fixing problems, especially faulty flashings, is extremely expensive once a house is built.
A necessary air space. Brick veneer is installed with an air space behind it to drain any water that penetrates the invisible cracks in bricks and mortar. The space also provides a capillary break to interrupt the flow of water to the interior of the wall. It is the mason’s responsibility to prevent accumulated mortar droppings from clogging the air space; verifying this component of the work is one of the most problematic aspects of brick-veneer construction.
Weep holes. Weep holes at the base of a brick-veneered wall allow water to drain out and ventilating air to enter the wall. The easiest way to make weep holes is to leave out the mortar from some of…