Brick Moisture Management

Brick Moisture Management

Brick veneers set the standard for commercial and institutional buildings as well as classic homes. When detailed for moisture management brick veneers stand the test of time both aesthetically and structurally. 

Brick is considered a "reservoir cladding" because bricks and mortar joints absorb water. As with other reservoir claddings, it is essential that the brick veneer is allowed to drain and dry across the entire vertical wall. Many moisture related failures in brick walls are the result of excess mortar bridging the air space behind the brick, compromising the water repellency of the water resistive barrier and allowing accumulating moisture to deteriorate both the veneer and backup wall. Ineffective weeps and poor placement contribute to prolonged moisture exposure, deteriorating masonry joints, and increasing efflorescence. 

Best Practice Detailing for Brick

  • Weep tunnels directly on the flashing at shelf angles, lintels, and ledges
  • Drainage mats to ensure drainage along the entire wall
  • Ventilating the wall cavity to facility drying 

Rigid Insulation Considerations

Continuous insulation is commonly used in brick veneer construction to help the building comply with energy codes and improve the thermal performance of the building, but also affects how the wall drains and dries (see article on Exterior Rigid Insulation).

The two primary concerns with moisture management in brick walls with exterior rigid foam insulation are

  1. Creating a drainage plane (1/8”) between the foam insulation and the water resistive barrier that minimizes thermal loss while allowing drainage
  2. Ensuring a gap between the back of the veneer and foam that accommodates excess mortar squeezings while also maintaining a clear and predictable air gap for drainage. A rainscreen drainage plane can be used to accomplish this. 

Essential Moisture Management Components for Brick

Sure Cavity Rainscreen Drainage Plane

Rainscreen  - Air Gap

Sure Cavity

Sure Cavity™ drainage mat's rigid channels and mortar blocking fabric ensure a clear and continuous drainage gap along the entire backup wall. Plus, it is available in a 16" width to fit between brick ties. Time and time again, in the lab and on the jobsite, Sure Cavity has been proven to rapidly drain and dry walls.

Cavity Weep Drains Brick and Stone Cavity Walls

Brick Cavity Weeps

Cavity Weep 

Water that drains to the bottom of the wall needs an exit strategy. Rope weeps and tubes don't work, and water doesn't run uphill to drain from cell vents above the bed joint of mortar. The flashing is the lowest point in the cavity - so drain water directly off the flashing. MTI's Cavity Weep™  is a self-spaced weep system that quickly rolls out on the flashing to create drainage tunnels for rapid drainage at the lowest point in the wall. 

Head Joint Weeps are time-saving spacers that create tunnels on the flashing

Weeps for Lintels & Shelf Angles

 Head Joint Weeps

Weeps work when they create a path for drainage at the lowest point in the cavity wall - in this case, directly on the lintel or shelf angle flashing. Each Head Joint Weep™ is 3/8" wide - the same as a mortar joint - so it acts as a time-saving spacer for creating great looking mortar joints.

Ventilation at Soffits with Floor Edging

Brick Soffit Ventilation

 Floor Edging

A ventilating a wall system with vented terminations at the top and bottom of the wall increases the drying power. Floor Edging™ maintains a pathway for ventilation from the air cavity to the exterior - simply tuck-point mortar between the top course of brick and Floor Edging, then score the Floor Edging at the face of the wall and snap off the excess. 

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