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Thin brick veneers, also called thin-fired clay units or adhered veneers, are bricks used for thinner walls in residential and commercial construction. Thin bricks are made from the same materials as traditional bricks, but they are manufactured to be thinner and of lesser weight.
This article explains the features and installation methods of thin brick units in various construction applications.
Features of Thin Brick Veneers
- Thin bricks are available in different colors, textures, and face dimensions. They can be as thin as 13 to 25 mm and as thick as 45 mm.
- They can be designed to be flat, corner, edge cap, and corner edge cap as shown in figure-2. These shapes help the thin veneer to be applied around the corners and give an appearance similar to traditional face brick facades.
- Compared to the light-weight cladding systems, thin brick veneers have superior resistance to heat, noise, minor impacts, and abrasion.
- Adhered brick veneers are installed and bonded based on the backing of stability and strength.
- The mass provides durability, fire resistance, security, and acoustic comfort. It is considered at places where the anchored brick veneer is difficult to install.
- Thin brick veneer system imparts less load to the buildings.
Thin bricks specifications should comply with ASTM C1088, Standard Specification for Thin Veneer Brick Units Made from Clay or Shale. C1088 mentions the requirements for durability, physical appearance, and tolerances for dimensions. Grade interior or grade exterior can be used based on interior or exterior applications.
Installation Method of Thin Brick Veneer
The factors affecting the installation method of thin brick veneer are dependent on the substrate, weather conditions, cost, experience, and skill of the installer. The table below shows the acceptable installation methods for thin brick:
Thin brick can be applied either on-site or off-site. Four primary methods used for the installation of adhered thin brick veneer are:
- Thick set
- Thin set
- Modular panels
- Prefabricated panels
1. Thick Set Method
This method involves the application of thin brick with a bond coat onto a mortar scratch coat, as shown in figure-3.
The method provides greater thickness to cover up any irregularities of the substrate. To facilitate a mechanical connection to the veneer and differential movement between the veneer and substrate, a mesh or lath arrangement is provided.
2. Thin Set Method
Here, the veneer is directly adhered to the substrate using a layer of adhesive or modified mortar as shown in figure-4. Hence, the substrate must be more leveled, compared to the thick set method of installation.
Unlike thick set, thin set veneer surface clearly shows the surface condition of the substrate. It has a reduced thickness without any layer of mesh or lath reinforcement.
Usually, cement backer board is the recommended substrate for exterior adhered veneer for thin set method of installation.
3. Modular Panel System
Here, thin brick veneers are adhered to a mechanically secured modular panel made of wood, metal, or rigid foam insulation. This modular panel is then fastened to the wall.
These units have integral elements with water-resisting and drainage features as shown in figure-5.
4. Prefabricated Panels
Thin brick veneer can be used to create architectural precast concrete panels as shown in figure-6. In this method, thin bricks are placed facing down and concrete or grout is poured directly over them. Necessary reinforcement as per the strength requirements is also provided.
The other face or finished face is coated with wax or retarder to prevent staining. The concrete poured onto the top flows into the space between the thin bricks forming mortar joints.
Once cured, the concrete precast panel with thin brick surface is obtained. In this method, all four sides and the back are bonded to concrete.
Thin brick veneers, also called thin-fired clay units or adhered veneers, are bricks used for thinner walls in residential and commercial construction.
Thin brick veneers can be applied either on-site or off-site. Four primary methods used for the installation of adhered thin brick veneer are:
1. Thick set
2. Thin set
3. Modular panels
4. Prefabricated panels