What is brick veneer construction and why is it a great option?

Although the brick veneer construction method has been popular in the United Kingdom and on the east coast of Australia for many decades, it's still fairly unknown here in sunny Perth. Recently, apg Homes launched a new group of affordable home designs as part of our Breakthrough range, and one of the reasons these beautiful houses are so cost-efficient is that they are built in the economical brick veneer technique. 

So, let's break down the basics of brick veneer construction to introduce you to this historic style that has stood the test of time.

Brick veneer explained

As a material, bricks are ideal for building as they are modular in form, durable, require low maintenance and can easily be made locally. This combination of factors has made brick one of the oldest preferred construction materials - even the mighty Colosseum in Rome was constructed with bricks. 

However, building entire structures in solid brick is labour intensive. Putting together solid masonry houses brick by brick takes a long time, and the labour costs stack up to make it an expensive process. 

This is why brick veneer was developed. As the name suggests, this style is a front or facade of brick laid over the foundation wall, but as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) emphasises, this doesn't mean that thin pieces of brick are used like they would be in veneer patios, floors or decorative interior features.

Instead, the bricks go one full wythe (layer) deep, typically separated by an inch of space between the steel or wooden frame foundation wall and attached with metal ties or horizontal header bricks. These attachments are sometimes called 'anchors', giving the whole process the name 'anchored brick veneer' because it's a non-load -bearing method - the foundation or structural wall supports the weight of the home, not the brick veneer. 

Benefits of brick veneer 

The Brick Industry Association notes that brick veneer is favoured by contractors, designers and home owners because it offers superior performance due to high fire resistance, low thermal transmission rate, high resistance to water penetration, low maintenance and an attractive look. All of these perks add up to an increased resale value. 

There are also significant structural and stylistic perks of brick veneer. For example, the inch of air space in brick veneer construction acts as a water-resistive barrier, directing water downward to flashing and weeps as a simple yet effective drainage wall system. InterNACHI adds that this air cavity helps to keep moisture out of the home and functions as an insulating space, especially if it is filled in with insulation materials as well. With brick veneer, builders can add either stepped or gutter flashing to drain water, so the home can be even more moisture-free. This is ideal for the health and well-being of everyone living inside. 

Ultimately, you're looking at an affordable home that is safe, sturdy and stylish. Brick veneer has all the aesthetic appeal of a solid masonry or double-brick house, but is cheaper to invest in and sturdy as can be. 

View our Breakthrough range!