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I don't want to use veneer, I want to use real brick. Is it as easy as using tie-ins to the studs and setting the brick as one would normally?

The existing wall is drywall, So I was thinking of leaving this in place, screwing in the tie-ins and laying up the brick to my desired height.

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What's at the base of the wall? Brick walls need to be supported from underneath, and will be very heavy -- that's why they're usually supported by masonry footings or walls. Tie-ins can prevent tipping, but you still need support from below. –  Shimon Rura Nov 1 '12 at 18:54
    
@ShimonRura This wall is on the outside perimeter sitting atop the footings. –  Matthew Nov 1 '12 at 21:14
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3 Answers

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If you don't have the proper structure under the area, you're not going to want to use full sized bricks for this project. Brick walls require proper concrete footings to support the massive amount of weight, if you don't have the ability to add the footings you won't be able to build a brick wall here.

In situations like this, veneer will likely be your only option. There are different types of veneer available, depending on the look you're going for.

Faux Brick Veneer

If you're looking for cheap and fast, you'll want to look at faux brick veneer. This is typically a sheet material made from plastics, which is molded and colored to to look like brick.

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This is very easy to install, goes up fast, and is cheap-ish. Though it tends to look just as cheap as it is, so it may not be suited to your tastes.

Installation

Follow the manufactures instructions.

Real Brick Veneer

If you're looking for an authentic look and feel; without all the weight, real brick veneer is where it's at. It's simply really thin brick (usually ~1/2" thick), and comes in many different varieties. Some veneer bricks are made by cutting actual reclaimed bricks, which can make matching older existing brick much easier.

Choosing real brick veneer over a full brick wall will save you a huge amount of weight, and allow you to have a brick wall almost anywhere you want.

Real Brick Wall

A 14' x 2' wall made from real brick, will take about 182 standard size bricks (3/8" joints). At about 6 pounds a brick, this is going to weigh 1092 lbs + the weight of the mortar.

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That's a massive amount of weight for your floor structure to support.

Veneer Brick Wall

Since 1/2" veneer brick only weighs about 0.8 lbs, you can cover the same wall with a fraction of the weight. That same 182 bricks, is only going to weigh about 146 lbs. Not to mention the load will be spread across the wall, not sitting directly on the floor.

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Installation

There are a few different ways to install it, but it's going to be quite a bit of work either way you choose to do it.

Wall Tracks

One method of installation, is to use a track system. This involves attaching specially designed channels to the wall, then attaching the bricks into the channels. This method takes a bit of extra prep time, but getting straight, even joints is made easier by the track design.

Wire Mesh

Another way to install brick veneer (or any masonry veneer), is to use a wire mesh backing. You'll simply attach wire meshing to the existing wall, apply a scratch coat, then install your veneer on top. This method takes more prep time (since you'll have to wait for the scratch coat to set), and will require more time and skill to place the bricks.

Directly on the Wall

Some types of brick veneer can be applied directly to a wall, in the same manor as tile is installed. This method is going to involve the least amount of prep, but will require a lot of time and skill to set the bricks (Hint: Start at the bottom, and work up).

Whichever product or method you choose, make sure to follow the manufacturers instructions. And as with all DIY projects, don't ever be afraid to ask for help.

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If you want to add a new layer of brick wall then it is best to remove the drywall completely and get right back to the structural, original wall.

As commented, using full bricks will cause a lot of weight on your load bearing structure and could cause serious damage to your structure!

Rip the drywall out and get to your bricks. As long as you are only going to partially build the wall up you can use brick toothing but will require you to remove existing selected bricks from the existing wall and place insert your new bricks into the exists wall at a right angle in several places. Do not removed an entire course at once and do it in steps. several a day over a week - you need the new bricks to rebond properly so they can exert the weight.

Toothing is mostly used for decoration but I have seen it used for adding extra support and bonding to an existing wall too- But doing a full wall needs extra steps.

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But you will be placing the bricks at a 90 degree angle making a platform for your new decorative wall.

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These can also be used instead of tie ins at various places and heights of the wall. You can choose a pattern of your liking. It is best to put more at the bottom for bearing the load and a constant interval throughout the rest. I have no formula but more it better and too much is worse.

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  • This type of DIY I would categorize as ADVANCED It is time consuming, can turn out to be expensive but is the best solution for long term (+20years!)
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If you don't want to remove your drywall, then putting full sized bricks is not a good idea! Tying into the drywall is also bad idea- it would most likely rip out and will absorb any dampness locked in between all the walls.

There are solution out there where you put look alike bricks that are just a fraction of the weight and there is adhesive that is specially formulated for dry walls too. source

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This is very easy, clean and one of the cheaper options giving you a very good imitation of real bricks, slate or whatever finish or pattern you are looking for.

  • This type of DIY i would categorize as INTERMEDIATE It can take a lot of detailing to get it perfect, but requires a lot less effort than other options and you have a wide variety of patterns. It could not be the best option for long terms might need maintenance after a few years.
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