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Adding brick to a home’s exterior creates an elegant alternative to wood or vinyl siding. Professional masons install brick siding—commonly referred to as brick veneer—on new construction homes or to existing homes and other buildings during a renovation.

Houses constructed entirely of brick are referred to as "solid-masonry houses." Unlike a wood-frame house, which is built from lumber, the structural support of a solid-masonry house comes from brick, concrete or stone. A layer of brick is referred to as a “wythe.” When a home or building has a single layer of brick on the exterior, the wythe can be referred to as a “veneer” or “siding,” (even though “veneer” is a term commonly used in conjunction with wood). In houses that have a brick veneer, the load-bearing support for the walls and the roof come from the wood frame, and in effect, the wood frame is what holds the brick veneer up. The brick is attached to the house by metal ties.

Brick veneer is not installed directly to the side of a house. There is typically a one-inch gap between the sheathing of the home and the brick veneer. This gap provides insulation and, when flashing and weeping holes are properly installed, allows for water to drain out—preventing the development of mold or moisture buildup. It’s important to research local building codes (as well as homeowners association rules if applicable) because, in some areas, a specific type of brick may be required.

Removing old or damaged siding

Some masons charge extra to remove old or damaged siding before installing the new brick veneer. Some professionals charge by the hour for the labor involved plus the cost to dump the old siding, and others will roll the cost of this task into the price per square foot for the overall job. Regional labor rates, fluctuating materials costs, the amount of foundation preparation required and the cost to remove existing siding can all play into the price per square foot for new brick siding.

Price per square foot

Every company is likely to charge a unique price per square foot, depending on the work required. Each job may call for a unique price as well. For example, Jason Elmore of Elmore’s Masonry in Chattanooga, Tennessee, charges $7 per square foot for brick veneer over existing siding as well as for new brick veneer on a new construction home. If concrete work is required or a client requests custom details such as arches or specialty corners, the cost per square foot increases. Elmore’s Masonry charges $600–$1,300 per thousand bricks, including material and labor, to brick an average house. In general, seven standard bricks are needed for each square foot.

Thin brick veneer adhesive

Thin brick veneer is an alternative to traditional brick siding. So-called "thin bricks" are made of the same material as standard bricks but, as implied, are thinner than their original counterparts—typically around 5/8 inch. Thin bricks are not necessarily a less expensive option than standard bricks, but because of their reduced width, they are lighter, making them a viable solution for homes that don’t have the structural support required to install a wythe of standard bricks. A standard brick is typically 3 ⅝ inches thick.

Solid foundation

It may be necessary to install a concrete footing or additional structural support, depending on how far out the existing foundation extends from the base of the home. After excavating a trench, the masons fill it with concrete reinforced with rebar to create a solid base that will support the brick veneer. Another, more cost-effective, option for securing a brick veneer to a house is with an angle iron. It’s important to have a professional assess the home and determine what type of support is needed. Depending on the home, this may be a job for a structural engineer. These additions and consultants will increase the total project cost. The cost can also increase, says Elmore with Elmore’s Masonry, if an existing concrete footing or brick ledge is out of level and his crew needs to saw the first (and sometimes the second) course of brick to get the footing leveled up.

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