An Introduction to Adhered Masonry Veneer
The adhered masonry veneer market offers additional opportunities for masons, with quality products that provide superior drainage performance for thin veneers.
An adhered masonry veneer is a cost-effective way for a home owner or commercial property owner to keep the appearance of masonry in the facade, even when budgets or design considerations don’t allow the use of full-sized masonry units.
Masons do not like anything that takes away from the traditional bricklaying or stone laying to which they are accustomed. But, during the last 10 years or so, adhered masonry veneers have become better engineered for performance and more attractive as a final product. Many masons have learned to install these veneers as a way to secure a contract or to make extra income on the side. Following are a few lessons learned by a guy whose first adhered masonry veneer job was a poorly understood, planned and managed mess.
Every project is specific, with an individual set of materials and conditions that affect the outcome of the job. These include the veneer, mortar, drainage mat, fasteners, lath, substrates, climate and installer’s skill level. In some cases, a designer is coordinating the project from the substrate out, while in other cases, the installer gives the owner recommendations. For standards and design details, the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) represents the concrete industry, and the Masonry Veneer Manufacturers Association (MVMA) represents the manufacturers and suppliers of adhered masonry products. The MVMA offers a free design and installation guide at https://ncma.org.
International Building Codes (IBC) refer to an adhered masonry system as “Adhered Masonry Veneer.” International Code Compliance (ICC-ES) refers to the system as “Precast Stone Veneer.” I have always called the installation of veneer products “lick and stick,” but all of these phrases actually refer to the same thing.
Following are a few facts about adhered masonry that will point you in the right direction.
- Adhered masonry is not loadbearing.
- Never laminate adhered masonry to existing or damaged EIFS or stucco, since the integrity of the existing fasteners, lath and substrate are unknown. Adhered veneers can be applied in new or retrofit work, when the structural integrity of the wall is reconstructed and within design tolerances to support the eccentric load on the structure.
- Do not install products that are dirty, too wet or dry, or frozen.
- Assure the substrate is suitably designed for the veneer loads; drainage is considered and properly sealed and flashed; mortar is properly selected for the installation; and lath and anchors will properly attach the veneer.
- Pressure washing the veneer is never an option, ever.
Veneer installation is based on recommendations of the specific product and system chosen for your project. Installation methods for adhered masonry veneers vary among installers, but the goal is the same: a long-lasting end result.