Question: I love the look of brick for both outside and inside a home. What are my options for adding it to a kitchen wall?
Answer: Thin brick has been around since the early 1950s, when the Structural Clay Products Research Foundation — now known as the Brick Industry Association — recognized the need for a thin veneer in interior and exterior remodeling.
Thin brick offers nearly the same versatility as regular brick, but it’s about a half-inch thick compared to modular brick, which measures 3 5/8 inches. It also doesn’t require the structural support of a brick ledge.
Several choices are available in thin brick veneer, including plastic, gypsum, particle board, concrete, cultured and clay. This article addresses clay thin veneer manufactured to standards for interior and exterior use.
Clay thin veneer is available in a wide range of colors and textures and multiple sizes, from standard modular brick to handmade oversize brick. This diversity gives your architect or designer many options to fit your needs.
Several well-known structures in Indianapolis — including Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse — were built using thin brick veneer. Many restaurants, condominiums, apartment buildings and homes in Indianapolis have thin brick designed into the construction plans. For years, custom homebuilders have created Old World charm by using thin brick in entertainment and bar areas, kitchens, great rooms, wine cellars and libraries. Some of these homes have been featured at Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis Home-A-Rama events.
Question: How is thin brick veneer installed?
Answer: Several systems allow even the weekend warrior to participate. Interior thin brick can be installed much like wall tile by using thin-set mortar or construction adhesive to bond it to the wall. The wall should have a backer board approved for this use.
After the bonding agent is set, fill the joints with mortar using a grout bag. The grout bag is similar to a pastry bag used for cake decorating. Once the mortar has dried to the point that a thumbprint leaves an impression without sticking, it needs to be compressed with a concave or grapevine jointing tool.
Fabricated metal panels are available for both interior and exterior projects and make installation efficient. One system offers 4-by-4 galvanized panels with pre-punched ledges. Anchor the panel to the wall studs, apply exterior construction adhesive to the back of the brick, press it in place on the ledge and space approximately 3/8 inch apart. Finish the joints between the brick as previously described.
Another system uses metal rails that are horizontally anchored to wall studs. This system is designed to accept wood mould and handmade brick with slots cut into the top and bottom. Just pop them in place on the metal rails; no adhesive is needed. The mortar joints are then filled and tooled to finish.
For exterior application of thin brick, consider using the metal panels or rail system to ensure it stays in place. An approved moisture barrier always should be used between the veneer system and the wall.