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What is wrong with this new building brick wall?

hcheng | Posted in General Questions on


Anybody can help to check out is there any problem with the colour diffident of the brick wall for this new building ?

Thanks for help.


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  1. hcheng | | #1

    Please see the photo in the attachment.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Hong Cheng,
    It's impossible to tell without a site visit. But here is my guess:

    1. The discolored area in the center of the wall is wetter than the areas on the right and left.

    2. The designer of this building forgot to include a roof overhang or wide cap flashing to protect the brick.

    3. The most likely cause of the moisture accumulation is cap flashing with a lip (drip edge) that isn't wide enough. It's possible that the metal flashing got slightly bent during installation -- just in the middle of the wall -- so that rain dribbles down the facade.


  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Hong Cheng,
    Here is a link to an article with more information on this topic: Brick Buildings Need Roof Overhangs.

  4. hcheng | | #4

    Thanks so many for help. I think the flashing is not installed yet, which caused the problem. But this photo took after 1 week dry days.

  5. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #5

    If you look at the drip edge flashing along the top of the wall in the picture you see mulitiple defects and bowing over the discolored section, which means it was probably dripping onto the exterior of the brick in multiple locations in that mid-section.

    Toward the left edge there appears to be a gap, a missing section, which doesn't seem to have discoloration below it, but that may be because the water wasn't making it all the way to the exterior there, but going into the inside of the building instead.

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    It's even possible that a worker on the site noticed that the wall was getting soaked, and, in a crude attempt at a fix, used a flat bar to try to make the flashing drip a little further from the building.

  7. hcheng | | #7

    hi all,

    thanks for help, another building with newly installed flash.

  8. Expert Member

    I think the first picture just shows the roof membrane lapped over the parapet. The second one Hong posted shows the finished cap flashing.

    I'd be more worried about the windows.

  9. hcheng | | #9

    hi all,

    Thanks for your help.
    What is normal procedure for the construction ? is it ok to put flashing after brick ? Since the wall has "wet" patch, anything should do to correct this ?
    What's wrong with the windows ?


  10. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #10

    There is nothing wrong with the windows, or the way they have flashed the roof from what I can see, but unprotected walls, and reliance on precast sills, are higher risk building assemblies than many others.

  11. hcheng | | #11

    hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for quick response. Those precast sills with brick is very common in here Vancouver. BTW, how to protect the brick wall, paint it ?


  12. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #12

    I used precast sills with brick veneer on homes in Ottawa for years, but in that climate you don't have to worry about bulk water intrusion the way you need to in Vancouver.

    Similarly, using a reservoir cladding (one that absorbs and stores water) like brick, especially without protecting it with overhangs is risky too.

    I don't know enough about it to comment on sealing or painting the brick. My gut feeling is it may do more harm than good by limiting the drying potential to the outside, but maybe reducing the amount of water it can absorb mitigates this concern?

  13. hcheng | | #13

    hi all,

    thanks for help, appreciate it.


  14. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #14

    Q. "How to protect the brick wall? What is the normal procedure for the construction? What's wrong with the windows?"

    A. The answers to these questions are provided in the article I linked to: Brick Buildings Need Roof Overhangs.

    This is a basic design issue, and it's kind of too late to fix. The designer forgot to include an adequate roof overhang or an architectural feature that protects the windows from rain.

    That said, if the building ever gets wide metal flashing at the parapet cap, it won't be any worse than most brick buildings built since World War II. Most urban residents have gotten used to the look of brick buildings with wet spots and dribble marks. It drives me crazy, but it's the new normal.

  15. morganparis | | #15

    Q. What is wrong with this new building brick wall?

    A. Architecture School.

  16. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #16

    James' succinct answer pretty much covers things.

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