How to Install Face Brick

Brick is a sturdy, durable, attractive covering for the outside of a house.

Brick comes in many colors, from traditional red to white, and in varying styles, from smooth surfacing to rough-finished "struck" facing. Bricks are nominally 2-by-4-by-8-inch rectangles, although dimensions will vary slightly with the manufacturer and some bricks come in longer lengths, about 12 inches. Bricks also can be combined with other siding, such as stones, for a more varied attractive finish. All bricks are installed with mortar, a blend of Portland cement and fine sand.

Determine the amount of brick you will need.

There are seven standard-sized brick in a square foot. Multiply the height and width of the wall to get the number of square feet and multiply by seven to get the number of bricks needed. Get extras to allow for cutting and waste; most bricks are sold in pallets and you may get extras because pallets will probably have more bricks than you really need.

Decide a pattern for the bricks, using the long side of the brick and the short or "header" side.

There are six basic bonds or patterns: running bond, with end joints overlapping each layer or course; stock bond, with joints aligned; Flemish bond, with one brick rectangular, the next short end out; common bond, joints aligned but every sixth course turned with headers out; English bond, with headers out every second course and common bond with Flemish headers, turned out every sixth course.

Cover the wall to be faced with brick with a waterproof membrane, typically some sort of plastic sheeting nailed to the wooden sheathing, using a hammer and nails. Make sure there is a solid ledge at the bottom of the wall to support the first course of bricks. It should be part of the concrete foundation and extend beyond the house wall more than the width of a brick. Repair any cracks or uneven spots in the ledge; it needs to be level.

Make a level guide line along the wall just above first course height with wood stakes and builder's twine. Mix mortar and lay the first course of brick, starting at one corner. Spread mortar ("butter") on the bottom and one end of the brick 1/2-inch thick with a trowel and set it in place. If brick walls will join at the end, set that first brick one brick width past the end of the adjoining wall, so the next wall's bricks will overlap it. Lay bricks one at a time, buttering with mortar and setting in place. Check every few bricks with a level to make sure the course is straight and level. Lay the entire first course before adding courses.

Continue laying bricks in the desired pattern, one course at a time. Check regularly to make sure courses are level and plumb, solid against the wall. Cut bricks in half with a mason's saw as needed to make the header courses. Mix only enough mortar for about half an hour of work, so it will not dry out too much. Put about half an inch of mortar between each brick. After a few courses are laid, go back and finish the joints with a finishing tool, a metal device which will push the mortar into a concave or v-shaped joint.

Things You Will Need

  • Waterproof membrane
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Stakes and builder's twine
  • Bricks
  • Mortar
  • Trowel
  • Mason's saw
  • Finishing tool

Tips

  • Bricklaying is not a simple task; it might be wise to practice by building a small brick wall or fireplace before attempting to face a house.
  • Get help; facing a house with bricks requires at least two people to work effectively and efficiently.
  • Use a scaffold to lay bricks on walls that extend above normal reach.

About the Author

Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.