Taking an old fairy tale to heart, remodelers using thin brick systems on exterior projects know that those jobs will resist moisture, damage and even the huffing and puffing of Big Bad Wolves.
Thin brick systems, targeted by the Brick Industry Association as an ideal replacement for synthetic stucco Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), consists of real, fire-kilned bricks in thicknesses from from ½ to 2 in. The systems are screwed directly to a house's framing, eliminating the need to pour footings. A moisture barrier is placed behind the system, and holes are detailed at the bottom of the walls to allow moisture to "weep" out. Thin Brick product weighs about six pounds per square foot complete, enabling it to be installed on most structures.
The moisture-resistant ability of the thin brick is its greatest advantage over EIFS, according to the Brick Industry Association. The Association states that EIFS is often improperly installed, with expansion joints incorrectly placed, allowing moisture in and trapping it there, destroying gypsum board and discoloring the exterior of the home.
Like full-brick exteriors, thin brick is resistant to denting or buckling, and requires no painting or maintenance. Thin brick offers relative cost savings, of course, but thin brick also retrofits well, according to Chuck Reck, manager of clay products for Endicott Tile LLC. Endicott Tile thin brick product was used to replace existing damaged EIFS on a home in Virginia Beach, Va.
"Thin Brick was especially advantageous - because of the way the windows were set," said Reck. "The windows were set flush with the [pre-existing] siding, so if you were to put a full conventional size brick on, it would make the windows set back in."
"Full brick systems offer additional strength and insulation through mass to a home, but, although I've never used one, a system like this could save a remodeler both manpower and cost, in a market where masonry technicians and product are backlogged," says Barry Rutenberg, president of Rutenberg Homes, a Florida-based builder.
Available in sizes ranging from 11 5/8-in. long X 3 5/8-in. wide to 7 5/8-in. long X 2 1/4-in. wide and in a variety of colors, thin brick systems can be purchased in a variety of colors and styles. Some manufacturers also offer installation-ready panels with hot wired grooves and skipped mortar joints. Dependent of type of brick and application method, the replacement cost for a thin brick system averages between $9 and $11 per square foot.