Brick Veneer: Pros and Cons, How to Install, and Some Facts You Need to Know

Brick is a classic material that adds character and style to any home. But full brick construction can be costly and time-consuming. Enter the practical solution: brick veneer. It provides the look and feel of brick at a fraction of the price and is virtually indistinguishable from full brick walls.

This post will explore the pros and cons of brick veneers, discuss their installation process, and present some crucial facts to consider.

What Is Brick Veneer?

A brick veneer is a type of facing applied to the surface of a house or wall. It’s a construction material that mimics the appearance of solid brick but with a significantly reduced thickness, hence it’s also known as thin brick. Brick veneers are made from the same material as full bricks, with the primary difference being the thickness and the way they are attached.

In brick veneer construction, the veneers are attached to a backing material, usually an interior wall of wood or metal studs. The wall provides the main structural support, while the brick veneer serves more for aesthetics and some insulating value.

Pros and Cons of Brick Veneer

Like any construction product, brick veneers have their own advantages and drawbacks that you need to address before deciding to use them for your house.

Pros

  • Cost-effective. Brick veneer is more cost-effective than complete brick construction. The reduced thickness of veneers makes them lighter, leading to less transportation cost and easier installation, which translates to savings in time and labor.
  • Aesthetically pleasing. With a wide range of styles, colors, and sizes, brick veneers allow homeowners to choose the look they desire. From rustic to modern, virtually any style is possible with brick veneers.
  • Durability. Veneers resist many common issues plaguing other types of wall surfaces, including rot, termites, and fire.

Cons

  • Insulation. While brick veneers provide some insulation, they are less effective than full brick walls. However, adding insulation behind the veneer can address this issue.
  • Maintenance. Over time, brick veneers might require repointing or replacement due to weathering. However, with regular cleanings and checks, these issues can be managed.
  • Installation complexity. Installing brick veneer is more complex compared to some other wall finishes. It is best to have a professional, or an experienced DIYer do the installation.

How to Install Brick Veneer

While the process requires patience, precision, and hard work, it’s achievable for a determined DIY enthusiast.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to install brick veneer.

Materials and Tools Required

Before you begin the installation, ensure you have the following items:

  • Brick veneers
  • Mortar or adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Grout bag
  • Spacers
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Wet sponge

Step 1: Preparing the Wall Surface

Start by cleaning the wall where you’ll be applying the veneer. It must be free of dust, dirt, and grime to ensure a strong bond. Consider applying a waterproof membrane or metal lath if installing the veneer on an exterior wall, as these will provide extra support and protection.

Step 2: Plan the Layout

Measure your wall and veneers to plan the layout. It’s crucial to figure out the pattern you want and how you’ll place each brick. As part of this planning, take note of windows, doors, or any other architectural features around which you’ll need to work. Sketching out a blueprint is a good idea to visualize the final look.

Step 3: Mixing Mortar or Adhesive

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare the mortar or adhesive. It should have a consistency similar to peanut butter – firm enough to hold but soft enough to spread.

Step 4: Applying Mortar or Adhesive

Using a trowel, apply an even layer of mortar or adhesive to the back of the brick veneer. Be sure to cover the entire surface. This process is also known as “buttering” the brick.

Step 5: Installing the Veneer

Press the buttered veneer onto the wall, starting from the bottom and working up. Apply enough pressure to ensure the brick adheres properly, but do not squeeze out all the mortar or adhesive. Keep a level handy to check your bricks are straight.

Step 6: Insert Spacers

Insert spacers between the bricks to ensure an even gap for grouting later. These gaps are also known as “mortar joints.”

Step 7: Repeat the Process

Continue buttering and attaching veneers, one brick at a time, ensuring each one is level and lines up correctly with its neighbors.

Step 8: Allow to Dry

Once you’ve applied all the veneers, let the wall sit and dry for the time recommended by the adhesive or mortar manufacturer.

Step 9: Grouting Joints

After completely drying the adhesive or mortar, use a grout bag to fill the spaces between the bricks. This process can be messy, so use a trowel or jointer to smooth the grout lines.

Step 10: Cleaning the Surface

Use a damp sponge to clean any excess grout off the face of the bricks. Do this gently to avoid disturbing the fresh grout.

Brick Veneer Costs and Where to Buy

The brick veneer cost can vary significantly based on the type, color, manufacturer, and location. Expect prices to range from around $3 to $10 per square foot. Also, remember to factor in the cost of adhesive, grout, tools, and labor if you choose to avoid DIY.

Brick veneer can be purchased from various sources, including brick manufacturers, home improvement stores, and online marketplaces. Always check product reviews and ratings before making a purchase.

Some Facts You Need to Know

  • A brick veneer is not load-bearing. Unlike full brick construction, brick veneer does not support the house structure. The structural support comes from the backing wall to which the veneers are attached.
  • There are different styles of brick veneers. You can choose from various styles and colors, from classic red brick to whitewashed or matt finishes, each offering a unique aesthetic to your interior or exterior walls.
  • Brick veneer adds value to your home. Not only does brick veneer improve the aesthetics of your house, but it can also increase its resale value. Many potential buyers appreciate the classic look and durability of brick.
  • Brick is indistinguishable from traditional brick masonry. With proper installation, brick veneer looks just as good as full brick construction, which is why it is highly sought after.

Key Takeaway

Brick veneer is a popular choice for those seeking the classic look of brick at a fraction of the cost. It’s an item that can drastically change the look of your interior and exterior walls. Take inspiration from different styles, colors, and uses of brick veneer. It can be a long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing addition to your home with careful installation and maintenance.

If you’re looking for an attractive and cost-effective classic look, brick veneer is an excellent choice. Call us now for professional installation to ensure your brick veneer looks beautiful for years.

Photo by Math on Unsplash

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