Questions regarding thin brick

pacific_flightsMay 30, 2012

I hope you guys don't mind my posting this in the bathrooms forum, as it's not specific to bathrooms, but I know the tile guys hang out here, and thought they may be able to give me some advice regarding thin brick. If anyone has suggestions for a more appropriate forum, please let me know.

I am planning to install thin brick in my back entry area. I chose brick for a few reasons. Probably the main reason is that I think it goes well with the character of my house, which was built in 1930. I already have a brick wall in the kitchen, and it's amazing how closely these thin bricks resemble the existing wall (the colors vary more in the photos than in real life).

Also, I think it's practical as far as being non-slippery, and the color will help hide dirt and dog hair, of which there is a lot :)

I've done quite a bit of research online, and definitely feel like this is something I can tackle myself. My only other experience with tiling was installing subway tile in a tub surround, which turned out great, so I'm excited about this new project. Unfortunately, the local masonry company that sold me the brick was unable to give me many answers regarding installation, so I'm turning to you guys for help.

First, I'm installing the brick directly onto concrete. In my Google search, I found a blog that showed a thin brick installation in a home office. The installers used a bright pink roll on membrane of some sort. The homeowner didn't mention specifically what this was, just said that it was to seal the concrete and help everything adhere. Do you think this is something I should use? If so, any idea what it might be? I found a forum where a guy had to rip out his entire brick floor in his kitchen because the brick did not adhere properly, so this has me a little concerned. The stone place I bought my brick from had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned this to them.

I was fairly confuse about what kind of sealer to use, but I think I have that settled now, and plan to use Glaze N'Seal film forming sealer, with the Glaze N'Seal floor polish.

The stone company told me it was ok to use either thin set or regular mortar. I bought the mortar. Should I use this for grouting as well, or should I buy a separate sanded grout for grouting?

Finally, I'm playing around with a couple of patterns. I think I'm leaning towards the more simple runningbond layout, as it just feels right. Any thoughts?

Here's my kitchen wall:

And one possible layout for the thin brick:

Another layout option:

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to the blog with concrete sealer

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Annie Deighnaugh

Can't really help you, but can suggest you contact customer service at the company that manufactures the thin brick...they should be able to tell you what they require in terms of underlayment and adhesives and sealants.....

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Sophie Wheeler

They should also be able to tell you if the brick is designed for horizontal applications with traffic instead of merely vertical decorative veneer applications, as I suspect is the case. Real brick is porous, rough, and difficult to clean. It's typically an outdoor surface for that reason. Even "thin" brick will retain those properties, but in addition will be more fragile because of it's composition and thinness. It's usually fine when installed as wall cladding, but unless it's thick enough, like 1/2 bricks, it's not suitable for flooring.

They do make porcelain tile that resembles brick that is designed for flooring applications. It's much smoother and easier to clean, and has the integral strength needed to stand up to traffic.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Thanks for the responses! I had tried calling the company before but couldn't find anyone to talk to. Tried again this morning and was directed to a guy who was very helpful. Turns out he has also used thin brick for flooring in a back entry and has had no problems. Bottom line is that he said you install it just as you would any other tile.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Ther pink membrane you speak of was probably waterproofing, which really isn't necessary. As for doing the brink, I would STRONGLY recommend using a WATER based sealer on it as you set it. Although everything you hear says solvent based sealers are better (and actually, they are), in this case you're better off with the waterbased for two reasons. First, you're only using it as a grout release. Doesn't matter if it wears off, so long as it doesn't let the grout suck into the surface until you get to it. Secondly, solvent based sealers are breathable, meaning they allow moisture to transmit back and forth, while a water based sealer will REPEL water.... and anything it's mixed with! What I'll normally do is have a pump up garden sprayer filled with sealer next to me as I set it, and as I complete each section, I'll pray it down-- I mean SATURATE it, intul it gets to the point where it's not soaking in any more. Now, overspray on previous areas WILL TURN WHITE-- but don't let that scare you-- it'll come off when you grout. Do this, and it'll almost be like grouting glazed tile.

In this first pic, you'll see the white haze I'm talking about, every couple of feet, going from side to side of the hallway:

This is grouted (except the steps, obviously):

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:57PM
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Bill, thanks for the advice. That is some beautiful brickwork, and what a huge job!

I think I'm starting to get a handle on this thin brick. I'm going to use thinset mortar to set the tile, then seal it with a water based sealer, and grout with sanded grout. Then reseal. I had planned to use a grout bag to avoid getting grout on the bricks, but it sounds like with the sealer that won't be necessary.

Do you have any opinions or advice on my layout options?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:11PM
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THat's a matter of personal taste. The standard brick joint will be alot easier, but the herringbone, to me would be spectacular, especially with a border!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:57PM
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