Upgrading from vinyl to masonry siding boosts your home's curb appeal and its value, but it's no small undertaking. Structurally, the biggest issue is weight. Vinyl siding is lightweight and literally "hangs" on the house's exterior boxing. Bricks and stones are extremely heavy and require beefed-up support in the form of a brick ledge.
Brick Ledge Options
A brick ledge must be wide enough to hold the new masonry and constructed to transfer the weight to the foundation's footing. Check local codes for exceptions, but most of the time, you can use one of three methods to construct a brick ledge.
- poured concrete
- stacked cement blocks
- bolted angle iron
Pouring a Concrete Brick Ledge
Pouring a concrete brick ledge involves excavating around the foundation to depth of approximately 30 inches and pouring a 4- to 6-inch wide, steel-reinforced wall to support the new masonry siding. This method works well for houses with basement foundations. The new brick ledge ties into the existing foundation wall through rebar "pins" inserted in holes drilled into the foundation. Pinning the new wall to the existing foundation is necessary for transferring the weight of the new masonry siding to the footing.
Stacking a Brick Ledge
Homes with crawlspace foundations have shallower footings that require less excavation to uncover. Once the footing is exposed, cement blocks can be stacked directly on the footing to build the new brick ledge. The ledge must be perfectly level when it reaches grade
Bolted Angle Iron
When you're only removing the lower portion of your home's vinyl siding to install a brick or stone wainscot, if local code allows, you can dig just below grade and bolt angle iron to the foundation to serve as the new brick ledge.
Angle iron is also necessary above doors and windows to support the brick directly above.
The Remodel Timeline
Once the brick ledge is in place, it's a quick process to remove the vinyl siding and the old trim. The construction of the new masonry siding can begin as soon as a vapor barrier, such as 15-pound felt, is installed over the home's boxing.