“The great advantage of using Thin Brick is only five percent of the total job is needed for clean up,” Costa explained.
TRADES & UNION DIGEST > Jobsites > Masonry moves faster with Thin Brick for Local 5

Article and photos By Charlie Sprang

The two-story, tan-colored brick building currently under construction on Hurfville-Cross Keys Road in Washington Township will soon be home to another Rothman Institute site. The project, the latest in an ever-expanding network of Rothman orthopedic treatment centers, is scheduled to open early 2018 according to the welcome sign on the construction site.

While the interior is still basically a shell, the exterior walls are almost finished. Back Brook Masonry of Hillsborough, New Jersey, used a new product called Thin Brick which doesn’t have to be laid one-by-one. Thin Brick is made like regular brick, but ranges in thickness from three quarters to five eighths of an inch. There is no visible difference between Thin Brick and traditional brick, but the lighter product can be installed faster and without the mess on any exterior application.

“The cost of the material is relatively the same,” explained Mario Cerrito, field representative for the Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers Local 5. “You make your money on the installation. We installed about 2,500 to 3,000 bricks a day with three-man crews.”

Americo Costa, masonry foreman for Back Brook Masonry, said that 70 percent of the time is spent on actual preparation, 20 percent on installation and 10 percent on grouting. To install the Thin Brick, the building was first wrapped with Tyvek Commercial Wrap to serve as an air and water barrier. Two-inch insulation boards are installed over the Tyvek.  Next, the TABS Wall System, a revolutionary paneling system, was installed using fasteners with washers already attached that elevates the paneling and enables any water that could penetrate the wall to flow down and out through drainage holes at the bottom.

The metal paneling has tabs that can be used to lock the brick in place. Once the paneling is in place, the brick is installed. Two dabs of adhesive are applied to each brick and then installed onto the metal paneling and pressed into position leaving room for grout. Tabs are closed over the brick to hold it in place. Twenty-four hours later, all the brick that has been installed is ready to be grouted.

Joints and spaces between the bricks are overfilled with grout. Once the grouting is completed, a curved tool is used to smooth the grout and create a concave look. The whole process is quicker and cleaner than using traditional brick and that is what makes installation most cost effective.

Clean-up after a traditional brick installation is a strenuous and tedious process.  The mortar, which is applied generously to form a bed to set each brick, is scraped away with a trowel, but is never completely wiped off. It hardens and needs to be scrubbed. Not so with Thin Brick which only must be wiped down with a cleaning solution and rinsed clean.

Using Thin Brick, the masonry job was 90 percent complete by the end of the December, much faster than would have been the case with traditional brick. “The great advantage of using Thin Brick is only five percent of the total job is needed for clean up,” Costa explained. “With traditional brick jobs, you need a whole crew to clean the mortar off the brick. This is much easier and quicker.”

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