Masonry vs. Brick Veneer: What’s The Difference?

For most people, the difference between solid masonry and brick veneer is hardly noticeable or even important. We don’t blame them for feeling that way. However, if you’re looking into installing one or the other, you definitely want to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of both. 

That’s where this post comes in. 

We’ll be breaking down how masonry is different from brick veneer and vice versa—all in the hopes that you don’t have to deal with either one literally breaking down.

Brick Veneer

The first thing that you should know about brick veneer is that it won’t hold a house up. It has very little to almost no structural support. It’s only about one width thick instead of solid masonry that is usually several widths thick. 

So when using a brick veneer, you aren’t counting on it to support your home. The veneer will most likely be placed over a frame of concrete, wood, or steel. One of those materials will actually be responsible for providing the structural integrity of the home.

Another difference arises when a brick veneer is installed: a gap is left between it and the supporting wall. That gap allows for the addition of insulation and the collection of mortar. These veneer walls need to be designed with flashing and weep devices that keep moisture properly controlled.


This is the old-fashioned brick construction that we’re all familiar with. This solid masonry has a few other names that can give you a good idea of what it entails,such as “double brick” and “solid brick.” 

As mentioned above, solid masonry uses several widths of brick along with header bricks to hold them together. Although the inside layers can’t be seen, people may substitute the brick with concrete or cinder blocks. 

The result of that solid construction is a wall that can support a lot of weight and a wide variety of roof structures. 

What Benefits Are There to Using One Over the Other?

Brick Veneer Is More Energy Efficient.

Really we should say that it better accommodates other building materials that help with energy efficiency. A solid brick wall isn’t necessarily a poor insulator, but a brick veneer and the cavity that’s left between it and the structural wall is the perfect place to add extra insulation. 

Water Drainage

Despite what some may believe, brick isn’t actually a waterproof material. Both solid masonry and brick veneer rely on the bond between mortar and brick to limit water penetration. Large masonry walls typically rely on their mass to absorb the water, while brick veneer relies on weep wells to drain water out of the cavity. Solid brick walls can still need these weep wells, but with veneer, it’s much more important. 

Sturdy Construction

You can probably figure this one out yourself. Solid masonry is incredibly sturdy and can withstand earthquakes, strong winds, and even fire. If the material that the veneer is held up by isn’t as strong or sturdy as brick, then it won’t hold up as well as brick. All of these factors contribute to the longevity of brick homes, which is why you can find them still standing after so long, even in harsh climates.

Solid Masonry Is Low-Maintenance

Solid brick’s durability and color retention mean that you’ll very rarely have any maintenance to do. But brick veneer comes with the risk of water damage if water seeps into the cavity and can’t escape. 

Brick Veneer Is Lightweight

When you compare brick veneer to solid brick, it’s extremely light. That massive weight reduction makes it much easier to transport to the job site as well as handle when installing. 

Easy Installation With Brick Veneer

Part of the reason veneer is easier to install is its lower weight, but it’s also incredibly easy to install in general. Fireplaces, kitchens, walls or siding are all popular locations for it. 

Decide Which Is Best for Your Needs

Now that you fully understand the difference between these two options and the benefits that come along with each, you can decide for yourself. 

Just be sure to keep in mind your project end goal. Do you want a low-maintenance construction that lasts for a long time, or do you want the ability to stylize a certain spot on your home? 

Questions like that can help you choose which is best for you. 

Whatever you decide, make sure that you have professionals who won’t let you down. At Ray Arnold Masonry we have those professionals. 

Contact Ray Arnold Masonry today for all your masonry needs.