Anatomy of a Brick Veneer Wall
Brick is just about the oldest building material. Small, modular, easily made from local materials, durable and requiring low maintenance, brick has been a favored way to build for centuries.
Brick has been used traditionally as a structural material. By creating walls and piers of brick, architects and builders were able to construct large and small buildings, from the humble home to the cavernous Colosseum.
But brick has always been a labor-intensive building material. As the cost of labor increased, brick became more and more a material reserved for higher-end houses. And as brick construction became more costly, we started to use brick less as structure and more as skin.
The result has been the development of the brick veneer wall and the treatment of brick as a two-dimensional, decorative element. This makes sense from a cost standpoint — but a brick veneer can harken back to its past as a structural material.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
Anatomy of a Brick Veneer Wall
The brick is a single wythe (layer) deep. This is unlike older, structural brick walls, which had multiple wythes for strength. The brick wall sits atop the foundation wall and is separated from the wood frame structure by an air space of one inch. The air space allows any water that penetrates the brick to fall and weep out through weep holes at the lowest course of brick above grade.
In a sense, a brick veneer wall acts like a rain screen. Brick is porous, and chances are that water can find its way through cracks in mortar joints and elsewhere. As we all know, if water can get in, it will. So having a way to get rid of this water is very important.
Now that we understand the basics of a brick veneer wall, let’s look at the different patterns of brick coursing we can have. A course is a horizontal layer of bricks.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
Running bond has to be the most common type of brick coursing we see. It’s essentially courses of brick, one atop the other, staggered so that the vertical mortar joints don’t line up. This is a traditional brick pattern, with staggered joints that provided stability and strength to a wall.
Typically, all of the bricks will be the same texture, size and color in a running bond pattern. There are variations to this:
- A one-third running bond, sometimes called a stretcher raking bond, has the vertical joint set away from the middle of the bricks above and below.
- A header bond has the same overall pattern as a running bond but using the brick header (short side) in lieu of brick stretcher (long side) as the exposed surface.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
Stack bond is the most contemporary brick pattern as it’s the pattern that treats the brick more as a screen than as a wall. In this pattern, vertical and horizontal joints are aligned. Doing so creates a pattern that, while visually lighter than the traditional running bond, is quite a bit weaker.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
Common bond is a brick pattern that very closely aligns with how a traditional, load-bearing brick wall would appear. A traditional brick wall was composed of several wythes (layers) of brick, one behind the other. Every few courses, the bricks would be laid perpendicular to the wall. This course tied together the wythes and gave the wall structural stability.
The result is that the brick ends, or headers, are exposed for view. The number of courses of stretchers (the long side of a brick) between each header course would determine if the pattern is an American bond, Scottish bond, English bond or some other style. Also, while the header course is all headers in this illustration, it can be a combination of headers and stretchers to create a stretcher bond pattern.
A nice design element of a common bond pattern is the ability to change the brick color or texture or both at the header course. This is certainly something to play around with to get the design just the way you want.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
A Flemish Cross bond is a brick pattern that introduces a regular pattern of crosses, diamonds or diagonals into the overall brick wall. This can be a really fun way to design with brick. In fact, one of the happiest buildings I’ve ever seen is the Doges Palace in Venice, with its pink brick in a diagonal pattern.
Whether introduced in a different color or set forward of the overall brick wall to create shadows, whether in a large scale pattern or very finely set, patterns like this introduce a bit of whimsy and style to what could otherwise be just a big, bland wall of brick.
Bud Dietrich, AIA
We usually see flush mortar joints, but there are many other ways to treat the way bricks are joined through mortar. In this illustration, the joints are raked — that is, set back from the face of the brick. You can take this a bit further with a stripped joint, which is similar to a raked joint, but the mortar is “stripped” even further back from the brick faces.
Some types of mortar joints include struck (mortar is angled from top to bottom), weathered (mortar is angled from bottom to top) and concave (mortar is curved inward). Each has its own distinctive visual affect. In fact, Frank Lloyd Wright used raked (on the horizontal joints) and flush (on the vertical joints) to achieve his trademark emphasis on the horizontal line.
Deckers Käfferlein – Architekten mit Leidenschaft für gute Architektur
Brick Wall Mystery, Solved – Carolina Country
The author’s son investigates a weep hole on a brick home. Photo by Hannah McKenzie.
Q: There are gaps between some bricks around the base of my home. They seem to be intentional since they are all at the same height from the ground and the same distance from one another. What are they? Should I be caulking them shut?
A:Please put down the caulk and step away! Those gaps are called “weep holes” — a building code requirement that drains water out of brick exterior walls.
Typically, behind the brick is a 1.5-inch cavity or air space and then the wood structure. The outer surface of the wood wall is usually wrapped with a material like Tyvek® or foam insulation that keeps water droplets draining down and away from the wood and over metal flashing (imagine a continuous miniature children’s sliding board) that directs water to the weep holes. Despite different material and construction options, the gist is that brick walls built with cavities are designed to get wet and make water flow down and out through weep holes or evaporate.
Weep holes are spaced every two to four bricks in a horizontal run and are located above windows, doors and the ground. Most often, they are open vertical gaps. Alternatively, there can be cotton rope, plastic tubes, louvers or mesh installed to prevent pests while still letting water escape. It is easy for mortar — the cement‑like mixture between the bricks — to fall into the wall cavity during construction and prevent weep holes from working, which is one of many reasons skilled masons are essential for home construction.
Those gaps are called “weep holes” — a building code requirement that drains water out of brick exterior walls.
Some homes with brick cavity walls do not have weeps. Though not ideal, this situation is hard to remedy, and adding weeps is not suggested since they must be tied to flashing. Keeping the grout patched as it cracks over time is key to limiting the amount of moisture inside the cavity. For all houses, be on the lookout for signs of a moisture problem, such as mold, mildew or bricks with efflorescence (crystalline deposits) or spalling (flaking).
Efflorescence is when water moves through brick and evaporates when it reaches the sunshine. Salt dust left behind on the surface is a clue that weeps are not working or that an event has caused a lot of water to build up in the wall.
Spalling is when moisture has accumulated to a point that the bricks crumble. Freeze/thaw cycles can also contribute. In extreme cases, bricks become so soft that the surface crumbles like soil. A spalling foundation is extremely alarming but solvable.
Events that may cause water to build up inside a wall include:
- Blocked or missing weep holes
- Excess humidity from a malfunctioning dryer vent or kitchen/bathroom exhaust fan
- Plumbing leaks from pipes, appliances or fixtures
- Air conditioning condensation drainage
- Damaged roofs, bricks, grout, windows or doors funneling water into the wall
There are so many tiny details that keep our homes comfortable, healthy and dry. Being aware of how our homes work and noticing problems can help us find solutions before the damage gets out of hand.
Thickness of a brick wall in the construction of houses
Brick is a popular and demanded material in construction. It has excellent performance characteristics. Reliable material withstands significant loads from floors, ceilings and roofs. Its advantages include low thermal conductivity, high deformation and bending strength, long service life, sound insulation. A brick building does not require a massive foundation. The thickness of the outer brick walls affects the bearing capacity of the building. Next, consider the established standards that are relevant today.
Brick wall parameters
- 1 Optimum brick wall thickness. Standard indicators
- 2 Nuances of choosing the type of masonry
- 3 Which material is best for construction
- 4 Improving thermal insulation properties
- 5 Calculating the consumption of materials
- 6 How to reduce the thickness of buildings and improve thermal insulation
9000 9 7 What owners of suburban residential buildings need to know brick
Optimum brick wall thickness. Standard indicators
At the thickness of the walls of the house, the indicators can vary in a wide range – 12 – 64 cm. The most common thickness is 2 bricks. This masonry is highly stable and reliable. The thickness of the brick wall according to GOST should provide the building with maximum strength.
The state standard regulates that during the construction of residential buildings with up to 5 floors in a temperate climate zone, the value of the minimum thickness of the supporting structure should not be less than 51 cm.
The nuances of choosing the type of masonry
When choosing the type of masonry, builders consider the following factors:
- Load. First of all, it is necessary to take into account the number of storeys of the building.
- Climate zone. It is important that the building is warm in winter.
- Aesthetic component. Thin masonry looks more elegant than thick masonry.
- Compliance with standards. The facility must be safe to operate.
For internal load-bearing walls, masonry with a thickness of 25 cm is used, which corresponds to one brick. For partitions that serve to divide rooms into zones, 12 cm is enough. The rigidity of this design is given by reinforcing with ordinary wire, which is placed in the seams.
When the temperature drops to -30 degrees in winter, keeping the house warm is a task that 64 cm masonry successfully copes with. However, it should be borne in mind that the weight of the building increases, a more massive foundation is needed.
When building a residential building in the southern region, a masonry scheme of 1.5 bricks can be used. If you need to put a barn or other utility room, then laying in one brick is enough.
Which material is best for building
The modern construction market offers bricks: double, single and one and a half. The dimensions of a single brick are 250 x 12 x 65 mm. One and a half standard size – 250 x 120 x 88, and double – 250 x 120 x 138. If you choose the most efficient material from an economic point of view, then it is more profitable to take the last two sizes. High-quality materials are used for the construction of the basement.
Having calculated what the thickness of the brick wall should be, it remains to choose the right material:
- Unlike solid ceramic bricks, hollow bricks are intentionally left with voids inside. These products are produced by ordinary workers and facing.
- Porous ceramic blocks are able to provide excellent thermal insulation properties. This is an ideal option to save on the use of insulation.
- Refractory fireclay bricks resist high temperatures very well. With its help lay out fireplaces and stoves.
- White sand-lime brick is resistant to moisture and temperature fluctuations.
- Hyper-pressed brick is highly durable. It does not absorb steam, and does not pass moisture.
Facing bricks are recommended to be bought immediately in large quantities to avoid color differences.
Improvement of thermal insulation properties
The thickness of a load-bearing brick wall is often increased by the use of insulation. Its use in the internal structure is in demand, as it has many advantages. The thickness of the bearing wall can be slightly increased depending on the choice of thermal insulation materials. Insulation also needs to be carried out outside the building. Consider a building pie:
- The thickness of the outer part of the structure with a laying of 0.5 bricks is 12 cm.
- Insulation is selected taking into account the climatic region.
- The thickness of the internal part of the structure must be at least 25 cm. Building materials are blocks or bricks.
The thickness of the supporting structures, regardless of the choice of material, must not be less than that specified in GOST.
After completing the construction plan, the surface area is calculated from the dimensions of the walls:
You want to calculate the area of one block. Based on the fact that the masonry will be built in one brick, the parameter is easy to find by multiplying the width by the height:
0.12*0.065 = 0.0078 m2.
1 m3 of bricks weighs approximately 1800 kg. Based on this, it is possible to make a calculation of what the number of bricks should be for the construction of a particular object.
Let’s summarize. According to GOST, the wall thickness should not be less than the specified standards. The indicator varies: it is influenced by the climatic zone, as well as the type of building. If the construction project was developed by professional specialists, then you can calculate the consumption of the main building material yourself using the numbers from the diagram. Properly performed calculation allows you to reduce costs in the process. You can buy the required number of blocks at once to avoid unnecessary material waste. On the other hand, the exact number of bricks will allow you not to buy more building materials after the start of construction work.
How to reduce the thickness of buildings and improve thermal insulation
People planning to build their own housing with their own hands may be interested in the answer to the question: “What should be the thickness of the structures in order to maximize the thermal performance of the building and its insulating properties?” As you know, constant noise has a bad effect on the general well-being of a person. The problem of good sound insulation is most relevant for those who live near the railway station, airport or factory.
Air-cushioned brick walls provide effective noise protection. The technology was called well masonry. Between the walls of the house, 25 cm each, an empty space is left, which is filled with porous material:
- lightweight concrete mix;
- organic insulation;
- expanded clay.
manhole masonry with insulation
A cavity filled in this way reduces the overall weight of the structure and increases the level of thermal insulation.
To create an insurmountable barrier to the cold from the street, you will need to make a ventilated facade. For this purpose, special heat-insulating panels, plasters and various facing materials are used.
Ventilated facade installation
The exterior wall masonry of 25 cm is finished with facing bricks on the outside, and the structure must be insulated on the inside.
- On the inside, the walls of a brick house are sheathed with insulation.
- The insulation layer is covered with a vapor barrier film.
- A metal mesh is laid on top and plastered. Alternatively, drywall can be used.
- Perform interior decoration. Its task is to close all previous layers of the “pie”.
Wall insulation from the inside
The result is cheap and cheerful. With the right approach, a practical owner will be able to reduce the initial cost of the object by 20%.
Building material should not be used in areas of increased seismic hazard. With a strong earthquake, the masonry is destroyed to the ground.
What you need to know the owners of suburban residential buildings made of bricks
Laying the walls of buildings in a country house in two bricks is an excellent constructive solution for the Siberian winter, if it is combined with the insulation of structures outside and inside. It is profitable to build such a building object from an economic point of view.
When choosing which wall thickness is more suitable, we must not forget that a building material with high strength also has great inertia. This means that it is best to build buildings from brick for permanent residence, where temperature drops are insignificant during the day. Owners of brick country houses should know that it will slowly warm up if in winter the owners do not live in it permanently, but only come from time to time.
Residential buildings made of bricks will serve their owners for a long time. They are warm in the cold season and cool in the summer.
Our article would not be complete without a video sequence. Watching a video about brick walls:
Brick house wall cake
Home \ Brick house wall cake
When building a brick house that will meet all modern requirements for the level of thermal protection, it is almost impossible to build walls only from bricks. Indeed, in order to achieve regulatory indicators, a brick wall must have a width of 3 meters or more. That is why the outer walls are made in the form of a kind of “layer cake”.
Usually a combined brick wall consists of the following layers:
- plaster or lime mortar
- wall masonry (slotted or porous bricks)
- insulation (polystyrene, mineral wool)
- cladding (face brick, plaster, special panels)
- galvanized steel mesh (for tying the pie pieces).
This option is just one solution for creating a brick wall cake. The number of combinations in this case can be several dozen combinations of different materials, including all types of bricks, concrete, wood, foam plastic, mineral wool, cladding and plaster, which are selected depending on specific conditions and requirements.
Where to place the insulation in the wall pie
When building a house for permanent residence, it is recommended to place a layer of insulation on the outside, since such walls have a better heat and humidity regime than with internal insulation.
Insufficient wall thickness with irregular heating mode leads to their complete freezing. Therefore, when the heating is turned on, condensation appears on the inside of the walls. It is quite difficult and very expensive to dry such “weeping” walls and create a normal thermal regime in the house. To avoid such situations, they create a multi-layer wall cake with external insulation.
This cake, when heated, releases excess moisture and accumulates heat, so it does not cool down for a long time in case of interruptions in heating. In addition, the insulation inhibits the penetration of cold from the outside.
If the insulation is located on the inside, it will retain heat in the room, but the wall itself will freeze through. Therefore, it will be warm in a heated house, and if the heating is turned off, the temperature in the rooms in a few hours will almost equal that on the inner surface of the wall.
Therefore, the construction of a brick wall pie with an inner layer of insulation is well suited for a summer residence or a temporary residence, in which the temperature inertia of the walls in winter is extremely undesirable.
Since brick walls take a long time to cool down and warm up just as long, it will not be possible to fully warm up the house if it is necessary to live in winter. The temperature in it will be uncomfortable, a large mass of frozen walls will require increased fuel consumption, and condensate will collect on their internal surfaces. In this case, it is imperative to equip the waterproofing on the outside of the insulation, and provide for the removal of the resulting condensate in the wall structure.
Wall cake protection
Insulation soaked in water vapor or precipitation will not work. Therefore, to protect the outer layer of the cake of brick walls with a thermal insulation layer of foam plastic or mineral wool boards, they are plastered with a vapor-permeable solution along the grid. It is also possible to clad with special panels with air vents in them.
The wall of a brick house can consist of a variety of layers, including various types of bricks, insulation and finishing materials.