In the top photo in Figure 1, I'm conducting a sophisticated engineering test on the rain holdout characteristics of a cladding material. I'm spraying the brick veneer wall of a garage with a garden hose. I have a wager going with people inside the garage -- I'm asking them to guess how long it will take, under the conditions of this test, for water to pass through the brick veneer. It's a multiple choice test: A) seconds, B) minutes, or C) hours.

The correct answer is A, between 15 and 30 seconds. Brick veneers are essentially transparent to water. We like to think, "Hey, brick is strong. It can handle water." And it can -- in the sense that the water doesn't damage the brick. But brick is just like a sponge: It sucks water in by capillary action, holds some of it, and lets the...

or Register to read the full article.