Masonry veneer walls consist of a single non-structural external layer of masonry work, typically brick, backed by an air space. The innermost element is usually structural, and may consist of wood or metal framing or masonry. Walls constructed in this manner have several advantages over solid masonry, some of which are shared with the Cavity wall (where inner and outer layers are both structural) while others are distinct to masonry veneer walls:
- The airspace functions as a drainage plane, allowing any water that has penetrated the veneer to drain to the bottom of the cavity, where it encounters flashing (weatherproofing) and is directed to the outside through weep holes, rather than entering the building.
- The cavity can include insulation, which is typically in the form of rigid foam, increasing the thermal performance of the wall.
- The structural framing or masonry backup can be erected first to allow the rest of the building structure to be completed concurrently with the outer veneer, rather than waiting for the entire wall structure to be completed before proceeding with the roof and upper floors.
- A masonry veneer wall can be completed in a shorter time with less labor than a solid masonry wall thus saving in cost.
- The weight of a veneer wall can be significantly less than solid masonry, resulting in economies in foundations and structural support.