Brick veneers are gaining popularity over the years and there is no surprise why. Not like traditional brick constructions, brick veneers have better structural integrity to eliminate some problems concerning masonry constructions. If you are interested in brick veneer, here are the basic guidelines you should know before investing in this type of brick wall.
What Is a Brick Veneer?
Brick veneer cladding systems are thin brick surfaces attached in front of the wall. Unlike solid masonry walls, whose main purpose is to hold the house foundation, brick veneers mainly depend on the structural walls for stability. Usually, a steel frame is concealed with a single layer of bricks during the installation process.
Advantages of Using Brick Veneer
There are many reasons why homeowners prefer brick veneer over traditional brick wall construction. Here are some pros of using brick veneer:
- Easy to customize and modify the design. Brick veneer has a wide variety of colors and sizes to choose from. It makes it easier to find a matching design that will complement the look of your house.
- Cost-effective. Brick veneer is a less expensive option to achieve the look and feel of antique-style solid brick walls. The veneers are less difficult to install, resulting in lower labor and material costs.
- Does not prevent airflow. Air can fill the voids between the inner structure and the external wythe through weep holes.
- Insulation. Because brick masonry is highly porous, moisture can quickly pass through the walls. The space between the brick wythe and the building material produces a cavity for air which functions as an insulator.
Disadvantages of Using Brick Veneer
Just like other masonry materials, here are the drawbacks of installing brick veneer:
- Hard to install for beginners. Installing bricks on the wall might look easy to do but once you start the process and you don’t have any prior experience, you might face various problems such as uneven distance between each brick, falling materials, and ineffective mortar paste. Installing brick veneer is also time-consuming if you do it by yourself. The best thing to do to avoid these problems is to hire professionals to install the brick veneer. You can also ask the skilled personnel on what possible issues you might face in the future and what to do about it to prolong the life of the brick veneer.
- Not energy efficient. A brick has weaker thermal conduction properties compared to other wall cladding materials.
- Susceptible to water damage. Brick veneer tends to trap moisture inside the wall over time, although this can be prevented by adding drainage holes in the wall.
Where to Install Brick Veneers?
Brick veneers are popular for both indoor and outdoor settings. They are best to install in the following places:
- Accent wall
- Antique style houses and establishments
Indoor and Outdoor Application of Brick Veneer
Indoor and outdoor brick veneer construction has different installation processes and requirements. Talking about brick veneer on interior walls, a mortar is applied to the surface before the bricks are installed on top of it. To create a uniform distance between the bricks during the drying process, plastic spacers are used to separate them. After the mortar has hardened, the bricks are sealed or fixed to improve the wall stability.
The installation of an outdoor brick veneer differs significantly from its indoor counterpart. The veneer is installed as a free-standing wall that is anchored to the structure rather than directly on top of it. The anchors or brick ties are attached to the house with mortar joints. The bricks are placed on a foundation and constructed from the bottom up.
Problems With Brick Veneer
Before investing in this type of masonry, you should know the following issues that most homeowners experience with their brick veneer:
Manually installing each brick on the wall is a real hassle, to begin with. You need to work continuously and accurately to achieve leveled rows of bricks with equal distance between each other. It is advisable to hire skilled mason or other professionals to achieve the desired clean look.
Moisture Accumulation and Mold Growth
Brick is a porous material that absorbs water and moisture. Over time, the wall might get damaged by molds and mildews if the water passage inside the structure is not properly planned.
A brick veneer is a type of exterior wall cladding that is commonly utilized in areas with consistent climate and has fewer weather patterns. If the atmosphere in your area has a high moisture content, expect that masonry materials will naturally react by accumulating the moisture inside and outside the bricks. This situation will make the molds grow and spread to other parts of the wall.
Moisture can transfer to the interior surface where the bricks are placed or drain out on the side that faces the house. To avoid water seeping out to unwanted places, there is a gap intentionally placed on the brick veneer to ensure that there is no water accumulation in the structure. Not only is it vital to secure the brick joints properly for aesthetic reasons, but it also helps to prevent water intrusion.
Weak Brick Joints
On any brick construction, there could be thousands of joints and each one of them could cause potential issues in the future. During and after installation, each joint must be sealed with mortar and then molded into a suitable form to support the wall integrity.
Repointing of Mortar
This involves removing the existing, damaged mortar and replacing it with new material. However, most homeowners are finding it more difficult to repoint the bricks because they can’t find the right color that will match the existing mortar on the surface.
Maintenance: How to Clean Brick Veneer?
Periodic cleaning of brick veneer is necessary because the masonry material is vapor permeable. One of the most typical issues with brick veneers is material damage caused by improper cleaning procedures. Only use proper cleaning solutions and materials such as mild detergent and a medium bristle brush.
Do not use a pressure washer on a maximum setting with acid-based cleaners. It will make the bricks softer and weaken the materials. It is advisable to clean the surface with a low-pressure garden house. Once you witness a stain or mold growing on the surface, clean the brick veneer immediately. Molds can grow further on both interior and exterior parts of the bricks.
You must unblock the weep holes regularly. Also, you need to examine the caulk joints that link the veneer to your house and eradicate invasive plant growth on an annual basis. Spray the surface of your brick façade with a regular garden hose equipped with a spray nozzle. Note that older brick and mortar joints can be harmed by high water pressure and strong cleaning solutions.
How Much Do Brick Veneers Cost?
Brick veneer usually costs around $10 to $25 per square foot. The price depends on the manufacturer, design, color, thickness, and modifications.
How Long Does Brick Veneer Last?
With proper maintenance, high-quality brick veneers can last more than 50 years.
This ends our basic guide about brick veneer. If you can install the brick veneer properly with or without the help of professionals and perform regular maintenance on the surface, the problems concerned with brick veneer should be not much of a problem.