What is Brick Veneer? (with photos)

Brick cladding can be an attractive and less expensive option for homeowners.

Veneer, sometimes called cladding, is the name given to any cladding material. Brick veneer is simply a veneer with a thin brick surface on the front. There are varieties produced for both indoor and outdoor applications, with installation varying widely between the two. Some veneers look very similar to traditional red brick, while others opt for a more rustic look.

Brick veneer on the outside of a house is technically a separate structure.

On the inner walls, the brick veneer is laid in a similar way to the tile. A mortar is spread on the wall and bricks are placed on top of the mortar. Plastic spacers separate the bricks during the drying process to create an even spacing between them. Once the mortar is set, the brick is then grouted. Interior bricks are most popular to decorate walls around inset fireplaces or to add an industrial feel to apartments that were once factory buildings.

Outdoor installation of brick veneer is very different from its indoor counterpart. Veneer is not installed directly on top of the house, but rather as a freestanding wall anchored to the house. Anchors, also called brick tie rods, are connected to the house via joints in the mortar. The bricks are placed on a foundation and built from scratch and are supported by their own weight.

There are a few disadvantages that should be considered by anyone interested in installing brick veneer on the exterior of their home. Installation is not as easy as it may seem, and most homeowners with no experience in contracting are advised against taking it on as a do-it-yourself project. Since veneer is a separate structure when installed correctly, it does not improve structural integrity as one might easily believe it would. It can also be subject to water damage, although this can be minimized with drainage holes at the bottom of the wall. Like any brick structure, the veneer will need to be pointed. This process is difficult as it involves grinding the old grout and putting new grout in its place.

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Despite these drawbacks, exterior brick veneer is an attractive and classic choice for many homeowners. It offers durability with low maintenance requirements. Vinyl siding is particularly susceptible to damage from flying objects during a windstorm, while metal siding can dent and fade over time. With brick veneer, there is no need for extra paint as with wood or metal siding, and there is significantly less chance of damage than vinyl siding. Replacing the cladding can be a difficult process and matching the old to the new can be a daunting task, which makes brick the obvious choice for those looking for long-term simplicity. With proper professional installation, brick veneer can be a great addition to any home.

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