As one of the nation’s leading building forensic experts, Harrison McCampbell has seen his share of brick cladding failure. “I chase water,” he says in describing the ever-present structural threat.

He usually does not have to look far to find it: Breaches can usually be attributed to one of several likely sources. “The absence of weep holes is a leading indicator of trouble. Also, a lack of through-wall flashing and wall cavity space are red flags,” McCampbell says.

With so little mystery surrounding moisture, it’s puzzling why some contractors expose themselves to callbacks and litigation. McCampbell won’t speculate why that’s the case. But he is eager to offer suggestions to help reduce financial, reputation and legal risk in brick veneer projects.

Four Brick Water Resistant Methods

1. Weep Holes. “When inspecting leaky homes, I often find weep holes are missing or they’re in odd locations. Sometimes I find head joints that have been drilled out after the fact to satisfy a home inspector or code official,” reports McCampbell.

“I suggest you follow Brick Industry Association details on brick veneer. Leave an open head joint every 24 inches. If there are no weep holes but there is a proper through-wall flashing, the collected water will eventually evaporate or escape through tiny mortar cracks, sparing interior framing.”

Guard your vertical masonry surfaces from moisture and wind-driven rain.
Guard your vertical masonry surfaces from moisture and wind-driven rain.

2. Through-Wall Flashing. McCampbell is frequently surprised by the absence of proper through-wall flashing. Instead, a hurried-building approach leaves behind counterflashing, say where a sloped shingle roof meets the brick veneer. The metal flashing is held in place by caulk and a random nail, which inevitably dooms the flashing.

“A proper through-wall flashing must run from under the weather-resistive barrier and extend all the way through the brick to the exterior,” the architect advises.

3. Wall Cavity. Excess mortar often collects along the cavity bottom. McCampbell advises the back leg of through-wall flashing at the base of the wall reaches above the likely level of mortar droppings to keep weep holes clear. And plastic mesh barriers? “Again, make sure the flashing extends above the point where the mortar collects.”

McCampbell knows the pressures contractors are under to finish projects. Observing a few basic rules of the road will help make sure your projects stay safe, dry and profitable.

4. Sealers and Waterproofers. In addition to McCampbell’s recommended best practices, consider adding a water repellant sealer, which offers a long-lasting moisture barrier. For example, DRYLOK Siloxane 7 Brick & Masonry Penetrating Sealer resists 98 mph wind-driven rain without changing the look or texture of the brick (no sheen). A single brushed, rolled or sprayed coat minimizes weathering effects and helps control efflorescence.

For waterproofling applications, consider DRYLOK Floor & Wall Masonry Waterproofer. The non-pigmented waterproofer offers a non-yellowing high gloss finish guaranteed to protect against wind-driven rain up to 98 mph.

By observing a few simple moisture-beating techniques, there’s no reason why brickwork won’t permanently protect the structure with no moisture worries.

Learn how DRYLOK masonry waterproofer or sealer can help mitigate the threat of water damage to new and existing buildings.