This is a 4 part series on learning brick basics; including identifying brickwork, brick matching, a lesson on mortar and pointing styles, and how to cut down costs on a brick façade.
Part One: What Kind of Brickwork Do I Have?
I have a brick building, pretty simple right? Wrong! To determine how to restore, repair, or work on a façade. First you need to determine do I have a solid masonry building or just a veneer. What does this mean and how can this be determined?
The Difference Between a Solid Masonry Wall and a Brick Veneer
A solid wall of masonry generally consists of an outer layer or wythe of brick and an inner wythe of brick. However the structural or internal wall can also consist of concrete building blocks. In either case the exterior wythe is attached to the internal wall with header bricks. Header bricks are bricks installed sideways so that they can attach the exterior wall with the internal wall. Most historical masonry structures are built with solid brick walls.
One way to tell a solid masonry wall apart from a brick veneer is by looking for those header bricks. Header bricks can be spotted because they appear shorter than the rest of the bricks because they are turned sideways. The longer, length way bricks are known as stretcher bricks. Usually solid masonry walls will form a pattern between the header bricks and stretcher bricks; for instance it is common that every seventh course high there will be header bricks, meaning every seventh row of bricks, header bricks will be installed to prevent division of the two wythes. Looking for header-stretcher brick patterns can help you identify solid brickwork. In some cases, however, it can be difficult to spot a solid brick wall because it is possible to attach the exterior wall with metal ties. When metal ties are the means of attaching the two masonry walls, header bricks may not be used.
A brick veneer differs from solid brick walls because solid brick walls support the structure of the building whereas brick veneers simply cover the structure of a building. Brick veneers are attached to the structural wall with metal ties that may be nailed or mechanically attached to the structure of the building. Brick Veneers are more commonly the type of brickwork found in newer homes.
When analyzing your brickwork it is always good to consult with an expert. If you live in Philadelphia, PA, NJ, or DE contact us to set up a free façade consultation.