Brick, or a combination of brick and another cladding, were commonly used during the 1940s-60s.
Brick veneer construction consists of an outer skin or veneer of brick that is installed in front of, but separated from, standard timber framing (Figure 1).
The framing provides the structural component, and a cavity of 1½–2” (38–50 mm) between the brick and the timber frame prevents moisture from being transmitted from the brick to the timber. The brick veneer is tied to the structural timber wall with metal ties.
Brick veneer was also used as cladding to the lower part of the wall with another cladding above such as weatherboard or stucco (Figures 2 and 3).
A typical brick width during this period was 4½” (114 mm), so with a 1½–2” (38–50 mm) cavity and a nominal 4” (100 mm) wall framing thickness, the wall typically has a total thickness of 10” (254 mm). Bricks were 9” (230) mm long.
Bricks were laid in a stretcher bond pattern with a maximum of 3/8” (9.5 mm) wide joints. The mortar for brickwork typically consisted of one part cement to three parts sand. Joints were generally formed as either a weathered joint or a V joint.
Metal wall ties to secure the brick veneer to the timber framing were formed from No. 8 SWG (standard wire gauge) galvanised wire that was twisted into a shape that allowed one end to be embedded in a joint and the other end nailed to the side of a stud (Figure 4).
Ties were generally inserted at 3’ (900 mm) centres horizontally and in every fourth course vertically. Additional ties were used in opposite cross walls, at angles and around openings.
Ties were staggered and installed to slope down towards the brick face so that any water that might otherwise reach the timber framework would be drained back to the cavity or the brickwork.
Ventilation of the cavity between the brick veneer and framing is essential to allow any moisture that may accumulate behind the brickwork to dry. Ventilation was generally provided by precast grilles installed in the foundation walls.
In some cases ventilation grilles were included in the bottom row of bricks, or the cavity was open to the subfloor. This was not a good practice as it left the cavity open to the subfloor space, allowing moist air to rise up through the cavity and accumulate in the roof space. If this situation exists, any new work should include closing off the cavity from the subfloor space.
Vermin proofing was also necessary, and achieved by means of fine-gauged galvanised wire netting across the cavity at bottom plate level. As with the ties, the mesh was installed with a slope down towards the brick face to deflect any water that might otherwise reach the timber framework, back to the cavity or the brickwork.
The brick veneer cladding was supported on the continuous, reinforced concrete foundation wall that was wide enough to support both framing and brick veneer.
As brick veneer could be built no higher than 12’ (3.6 m) above the top of the foundation, the upper storey of two storey, brick veneer houses was clad with a different material.
The brick was sometimes taken only to window sill height, with a different cladding material above this to the eave soffit.