Veneer Wall: Thin Brick Veneer/Wood Stud Framing

Veneer Wall: Thin Brick Veneer/Wood Stud Framing2022-02-28T20:07:44-07:00

See Additional Wall Variation: Thin Brick Veneer/Reinforced Concrete Block

Note: The additional wall variation is just the drawing with callouts. There is no written profile associated with it.

Sponsored by:

  • Interior walls where the weight or the thickness of full brick could be a problem
  • Side walls of roof dormers where you want the look of brick but do not want the weight
  • HVAC enclosure walls on the roof that shield the mechanical units from view.
  • Infill buildings in an historic district where you want the look of traditional brick but want to minimize the thickness of the wall.
  • Single-family and multi-family residential, shopping centers and restaurants, low-rise construction.
  • Use thin brick where the weight and depth of the wall are more important than longevity
  • Great design flexibility with many colors, textures, and bond patterns available
  • Has the appearance of a solid masonry building but walls are thinner and lighter than traditional brick walls
  • Minimal long-term maintenance
  • Adhered thin brick must be kept at least 2” above pavement and 4” above grade.
  • The brick veneer must lap at least 1” over the joint between the foundation and the stud framing. See BIA Tech Note 28c for more information.
  • Although many people expect a thin brick wall to be cheaper than a traditional full-depth brick veneer wall, the opposite is often true. Thin brick often costs more to manufacture.  
  • Because it is not as robust as regular brick, thin brick needs more expansion joints than regular brick does.
  • Backup: 2×4 wood studs at 16” on center
  • Veneer: ¾” thick brick veneer (nominal 3/4” x 2-5/8” x 8”)
  • Sheathing: 5/8” oriented strand board sheathing, nailed to the studs @ 6” on center
  • Weather Resistive Barrier: 15-pound building paper, installed in horizontal strips and shingle-lapped 2” with each successive strip (optional substitute is membrane house wrap)
  • Insulation: 3.5”-inch batt insulation installed between the studs plus 1-inch rigid extruded polystyrene between the exterior sheathing and the expanded metal mesh (Reference: Colorado Masonry Systems Design Guide, Chapter 8, Figure 8-20 (similar))
  • Expanded Metal Mesh: 2.5-pound galvanized metal mesh attached to the studs @ 6” on center using nails or screws that penetrate the studs by at least 1”.
  • Flashing: Self-adhered bitumen flashing paired with metal drip edge (Reference: Colorado Masonry Systems Design Guide, Chapter 6, Shelf Angle Flashing Options, Fig.6-3 (Option 2))
  • Mortar: Type S, Portland cement/lime, plain gray. Mortar additives can increase bond strength, but they also make it more difficult to clean mortar smears off the finished wall.
  • Joints: Concave tooled
Thin Brick Veneer/Reinforced Concrete Block Thin Brick_Reinforced Concrete Block with grade
  • In areas with high seismic risk, masonry ties and anchors or attachment might have special requirements.  Check your local building codes.
  • Thin brick itself will not burn but it has no listed fire resistance.
  • 21 pounds per square foot
  • 5.4 (for ¾” thin brick veneer) + 10 (metal lath and mortar) + 2 (OSB sheathing) + 1.4 (wood framing) + 2.2 (gypsum board)
  • STC = (weight of wall)0.233 x 21.5
  • STC = 44 dB
  • STC ratings are largely affected by the weight of the wall. Since thin brick does not weigh as much as full-depth brick, thin brick is not the best choice for sound attenuation.
Reference: BIA Tech Note 5A
  • R-value: 18.36 to 18.53
  • Calculations
    • Outside air film                                     0.17
    • ¾” thick brick                                         0.12
    • ½”to 1” thick setting bed        0.16 to 0.33
    • 1” XPS insulation board                       5.00
    • 5/8” OSB sheathing                              0.68
    • 3.5” batt insulation                             11.00
    • ½” gypsum sheathing                           0.45
    • Inside air film                                         0.78
    • TOTAL R-v                             18.36 to 18.53

Reference: BIA Tech Note 4
Reference: International Energy Conservation Code, Tables C402.1.3 and C402.1.4

  • Thin brick veneer is more fragile than a full-depth brick veneer. Call for control joints near outside corners and around window and door openings to manage this differential movement without cracking. Read BIA Tech Note 28c for more information.
  • There are three different pathways to meeting the requirements of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). You can use R-values to satisfy the prescriptive limits of Table C402.1.3 of the code. Using R-values requires continuous insulation in the wall in all Colorado climate zones.  Following Table C402.1.4 of the code uses U-values to meet the insulation requirements. This approach does not require continuous insulation in the wall. A third approach is to use computer software like COMcheck — to prove that the building meets code.  Computer software is the most complex, but it is also the most flexible option. 
  • Make sure you have at least ¾” overlap between the door and window jambs and the brick veneer. Install backer rod and sealant at the joints where different materials meet.
  • Use building paper or Tyvek to cover the sheathing or use water resistant sheathing with taped joints.
  • Design the wood stud back-up to a deflection limit of L/720 to minimize veneer cracking.
  • If your design involves a hybrid of thin brick and traditional full-depth brick veneer, you will need movement joints in the brick veneer to separate the two veneer systems.
  • You can save time by substituting a one-layer proprietary bonding mortar in place of both the scratch coat and bond coat shown in this drawing. See System Details.
  • If the design calls for more than 1” of rigid insulation board between the metal mesh and the exterior sheathing, you will need a steel angle at the base of the wall to carry the gravity load of the thin brick veneer. The steel angle should be long enough to support 2/3 of the thin brick depth.
  • Anchor the veneer ties to the studs using galvanized nails or screws. It is not permitted to anchor the ties into the sheathing alone.
  • You can minimize the cleaning by laying the brick from the top of the wall down to the bottom.  This keeps mortar droppings from landing on veneer below your work. The mortar you are using needs to be stiff enough and sticky enough to hold the brick in place without relying on veneer below to resist the pull of gravity.
  • If you are using a mortar additive to increase bond strength, be careful to minimize mortar droppings. The additive makes it more difficult to clean these mortar blobs off the wall when you are done.
  • If your project includes outside corners, start the pattern by laying the specialty corner units first.
  • If you are laying a tall, thin expanse of adhered brick veneer (like piers or a chimney), install diagonal steel strapping on top of the studs to keep the substrate from twisting or bending in the wind. Movement of the structural wall will cause cracking in the thin brick, usually at the corners.
  • You can save time by substituting a one-layer proprietary bonding mortar in place of both the scratch coat and bond coat shown in this drawing. See System Details.

Mortar System

Consider a proprietary single layer bonding mortar with expanded metal mesh:

Moisture Control

Fluid-Applied Air/Water/Vapor Barrier: This sprayed-on elastomeric coating resists moisture penetration above grade.

Weep Screed: A weep screed at the bottom edge of the Thin Brick Veneer starts the masonry installation with a clean, straight edge and allows any moisture that is working down the wall to harmlessly drain away. The weep screed should have perforations at least 1” on center along its entire length. According to code, Thin Brick Veneer should be installed at least 2” above pavement or 4” above grade.

MTI Weep Screed & Deflector at Bottom of Thin Veneer Wall
Weep Screed


These drawings contain technical information on masonry wall systems. They provide some of the basic information required to properly design and detail these systems. This information does not cover all designs or conditions. The information presented illustrates only principles that are involved. The information contained here is based on the available data and experience of the technical staff of Atkinson-Noland & Associates and Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute.  The information should be recognized as suggestions which, if followed with good judgement, should produce positive results. Final decisions on the use of information, details and materials as discussed in this guide are not within the purview of Atkinson-Noland & Associates or Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute.  Final choices must rest with the project designer, owner, or both.