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How to Install Brick Veneer on a Wall

You may be a bit discouraged by the process but have always loved the rustic, cozy vibe that bricks give to an interior. You can achieve the look pretty easily with brick veneer, otherwise known as thin bricks, that require none of the wall replacement or tearing out plaster but still looks great. 

Step #1: Select your materials

Brick veneer is a great way to get the classic beauty of brick without adding the weight, mess, and cost. They can be applied to virtually any existing wall, interior or exterior. You may be wondering what it is about brick veneer that makes it work so differently from genuine brick. Thin bricks look like full bricks on the outfacing edge but are a fraction of the depth. You will find a few different styles to choose from at either of our Batchelder & Collins locations.

You will also need a few bags of mortar but the specific amount is dependent upon the space you plan to cover with thin bricks. 

Step #2: Prepare the wall

Before you install the brick veneer, you have to ensure the wall is clean and free of debris. Remove nails and screws from the wall, take off outlet covers using a screwdriver, and finally wipe down the wall with a damp cotton cloth, letting it dry thoroughly before you start. This will help the mortar to set more easily. 

Lay down plastic sheeting, tarps, or heavy-duty paper under your workspace so that it covers the floor from the base of the wall to about a few feet out. 

Stone tends to vary in color and potentially also in size and texture from piece to piece. Therefore, you may want to do a dry layout of the brick veneer before starting to install them so that you can make sure you’re getting a good mixture of color and an even blend of sizes.

Step #3: Draw some guidelines

Before you start putting the bricks onto your wall, we recommend using a pencil, a yardstick, and a level to sketch horizontal lines onto the wall as a guide for where you should be placing the bricks. This will make the next few steps much easier and ensure that you’re placing the bricks straight across and evenly. Draw at least three horizontal lines in pencil across the bottom of the wall because these will work as your leveling guide going forward. 

Step #4: Mix the mortar

We recommend using a thin-set mortar that has a polymer additive as it gives greater strength to hold the brick in place on the wall. Use white mortar for light-colored brick so that it doesn’t stain the veneer during or after installation. 

Mix the mortar based on the instructions on the package but you’ll want to do this in small batches as it will otherwise dry before you are able to get to it. Use a mixer and a bucket.

Set the bricks and the bucket of mortar by the wall before you start so that you can access it and work quickly.

Step #5: Attach the thin bricks to the wall

It’s important to use the right underlayment when installing brick. For areas that will see a lot of moisture and humidity like the bathroom, use a cement backerboard specifically designed for wet areas. Brick veneer can be installed over other stable hard surfaces such as concrete blocks, masonry, or other brick (they may require a thin coat of mortar to even out the surface) but never install directly on drywall or other painted surfaces. 

For some types of exterior stone veneer and for rustic veneers, a metal lath may be necessary to adhere the brick properly to the wall. The lath can be screwed or attached directly to the surface you are installing on then covered by a thin coat of mortar. Then key or scratch the mortar to create a textured surface to better grasp the brick. Allow this to set for 24 hours before installing the brick veneer. 

Step #6: Cut the bricks into smaller pieces

For those spaces that require smaller bricks, measure the space that you need the brick to fit into with a tape measure or ruler. Then measure a thin brick and cut it to that size with a tile cutter or a wet saw with a diamond-edged blade. 

Step #7: Fill in the gaps with grout

After you’ve laid all of the brick veneer into place, it’s time you fill in the gaps with grout. We recommend using a grout bag for this project because they are equipped with a small nozzle that’ll allow you to squeeze the grout evenly between the brick flats without getting it everywhere. 

After allowing the grout to set for a few minutes, use a small metal spoon or a grout scraping tool to even out the grout. Allow to dry completely before replacing the outlet covers.

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