Brick veneer walls are installed over other basic walls of wood sheathing or masonry such as poured concrete or concrete blocks. Brick veneer walls provide no structural support for the structure and are basically walls of single bricks. They cannot stand on their own, and they must be fastened to the load-bearing support wall using metal ties, which are secured to the basic wall and placed in mortar joints between bricks.
Basic Code Rule
The National Building Code specifies one wall tie for every 3 square feet of wall; the ties cannot be farther apart than 32 inches horizontally or 16 inches vertically. Wooden wall studs are typically 16 inches apart, which equates to a tie every other stud. That would require a vertical tie every 13 inches, or roughly four courses or layers of brick to meet the 3-foot requirement, which is not practical for brick-laying.
Meet the code requirement by installing ties on every stud, which is every 16 inches horizontally, and every 16 inches vertically on each stud; that is every six courses of basic 2-1/4-inch-thick bricks or five courses of 2-3/4-inch bricks. Use galvanized steel ties, usually 7/8 inch wide and 6 inches long. Nail one end to the wall with galvanized nails, and place the other end between horizontal mortar joints. Most ties are corrugated metal, which provides better attachment in the mortar.
Use corrugated ties only on wood-framed walls, according to the building code. Use other styles on masonry walls, poured concrete or concrete blocks. Install ties between horizontal mortar joints of block walls when the blocks are laid, assuming they are to be faced with brick. Add ties to masonry walls built without them using masonry tapcon screws to secure them to the concrete. Space them the same as for wood-sheathed walls.
Install ties so they go into the mortar joints at a 90-degree angle, at least 1-1/2 inches into the brick mortar. Those bent at other angles are less strong. The Federal Emergency Management Association recommends using ring shank nails to fasten ties in high-wind areas. Place ties within 8 inches of window and door openings and within 12 inches of veneer tops, according to FEMA recommendations
Spacing of ties depends on wind loads, or the force of wind against a brick veneer wall. Standard spacing is acceptable for areas with maximum wind speeds up to about 120 miles an hour. For areas with higher winds, like coastal regions with tropical storms and hurricanes, vertical spacing is reduced. For 140-mile-an-hour winds, for instance, vertical spacing on 16-inch studs should be 13.7 inches; for 150-mile winds, it should be 10.2 inches.
- Masonry Advisory Council: Wall Ties in Brick Veneer on Wood Framing
- Masonry Advisory Council: Wall Ties and Anchors for Masonry
- Portland Cement Association: What Kind of Ties Should Be Used with Concrete Masonry Walls?
- Architecture-Engineering-Construction Info: Wall Ties
- FEMA: Attachment of Brick Veneer in High-Wind Regions