Perfecting your process in brick veneer installations
Durability and success in any project comes down to processes. When it comes to brick veneer installations, a project’s success is determined by the selection of materials, the preparation, and the effort and technique you put into the process.
And while brick is a durable and water-tolerant cladding material, it cannot overcome poor workmanship and detailing.
We can be honest here – rarely does the brick veneer installations itself fail. It’s a matter of laying up a flat wall with straight, even courses, and raking the mortar joints. All too often, the issue is in the support. It’s in how securely tied your brick veneer is to the structural wall and if you took the proper measure to ensure moisture-control. That will impact the wood framing behind the brick veneer installations every time.
Whether the brick you use is old or modern, it cannot fight water. For example, common leak spots such as roof and wall penetrations, and windows will start to chip away at the structure.
In addition, brick wall mortar joints tend to leak. Sometimes the mixing of mortar introduces tiny air bubbles, which can be accelerated once troweled on. The water in the mix evaporates, leaving even more holes and hairline cracks between the mortar and the brick.
And then there’s the wind-driven rain factor, which can soak a wall, and as the moisture moves from wet to dry and warmer to cooler, the back of the brick eventually will get wet.
Another common problem with brick veneer installations is the lack of proper through-wall flashings. One such issue is counterflashing installed where a sloped shingle roof abuts a brick wall. The metal is usually 4 or 5 inches high and follows the slope of the roof. Inevitably, the flashing falls out of the wall, and then it offers no help whatsoever.
Improper flashing can also impact a chimney’s headwalls and gable-end parapet walls. Any water that gets behind the brick will be headed right down into the framing and the interior finishes. Proper through-wall flashing must run from under the weather-resistive barrier on the structural wall and extend all the way through the brick to the exterior. Honestly, anything short of meeting the front face of the brick is much less effective at getting the water out.
Stepped Pan Flashing
Installing through-wall flashing correctly – specifically on a sloped roof-to-wall intersection – requires a detailed process. Executing a true through-wall counterflashing along the rake of a sloped roof requires installing a series of stepped pans.
Continuous flashing is sometimes seen where a roof meets a sidewall, but in the long run step flashing will do a better job of preventing water leaks.
Step flashing redirects the water back onto the shingle. Even if one piece of step flashing fails, the flashing and shingle below it start the process over again.
Continuous flashing against a sidewall is one way to install a roof, but it’s not the correct way. It may seem as if a single piece of flashing would offer more protection than many pieces of step flashing. But it doesn’t always work that way. Once even a small section of roofing cement fails, you run the risk of getting a leak. Each additional rain adds more water.
Step flashing offers far better protection from leaks because even if a single piece of step flashing fails, the water just hits the next lower piece. That flashing directs the water onto the shingle and the water drains down the roof.