Drywall Approach

June 2009

The interior walls of an old warehouse-style building are exposed brick, and the owner wants them all drywalled. What’s the best way to go about doing this?

There is only one correct way to address this: With respect to local assumptions of building code requirements I would sub-frame the interior of the wall with standard metal framing at 24" on center and braced back to the brick or ceiling structure. This solution shall also accommodate electrical and insulation needs and ultimately provide a plumb, secure and straight, flat surface for your drywall.
—Larry Palumbo, President/Qualifier
Southampton Restoration, Inc.
West Palm Beach, Florida


I would shoot either hat channel or Z channel with Styrofoam insulation into the brick mortar, then attach the drywall to your framing.
—Larry Stevenson
Acoustic Clean of Colorado
Denver, Colorado


Brick is a bad substrate to laminate drywall directly to—too many variables in the plane of the brick. The best way is to use a metal stud fur out in front of the brick wall, then drywall this. If you laminate directly to the brick, although it can be done, the drywall will take on the contours of the brick. So if the brick is less than flat, so will your finished drywall. But to answer your question, glue the hell out of it and nail it in the mortar joints with enough nails to hold it in place until the glue sets.
—Anonymous

There are several ways to perform this task. First, you can attach 7/8 hat channel to the brick to fur it out and attach drywall to it. Second, you can attach drywall directly to the brick using Tapcon® screws or similar. And third, you can use the previous method with the Tapcons around the perimeter and use glue or drywall mud to attach the field. We would advise the use of the first method since it will give you the most straight and true wall.
—Alan Castro
Advanced Specialty Const. Inc.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida


My best advice is if someone wants you to attach drywall to old brick in a warehouse, it’s probably a condo job and 1. You either will not get paid or 2. You will get sued for defective workmanship. Save yourself a lot of grief and let your competitor glue and stub nail it on.
—Anonymous but Truthful

Trowel backside of drywall with a synthetic EIFS base coat, then apply to brick. Another way is to plaster weld or bonding agent application to brick, then use a traditional two-coat plaster application.
—Joe Martin, Owner
Martin Plastering Co.
Chicago, Illinois


The easiest way is to have furring channel (high hat) and attach that to the brick. The only problem is the brick isn’t plum or square, so sometimes to frame a new wall with metal studs in front of brick can be a solution.
—Dickinson Drywall
West Bridgewater, Massachusetts


Have carpenter attach furring strips to brick. Then drywall as usual.
—Anonymous

Use a good construction adhesive, then Tapcon in strategic locations (in grout lines) to ensure adherence.
—Glen Riffe, Project Manager
Denver Drywall
Colorado Springs, Colorado


I would say clean the brick and mortar joints with water, then use taping mud with a half inch notch trowel on the whole of the sheet. Stick the sheet on the wall, moving it up and down to maximize adhering. Then you should use Tower nails (masonry nails) at least 6 per sheet in the grout joints. In my experience this is the best way.
—Trevor Aitken, Owner
DISC Limited
St. David’s Island, Bermuda


Install 1 5/8" framing braced to the brick, and install wallboard to the framing. The wall will be level and you have space for electrical installations in the wall cavity.
—Andres Echarte
FMA Construction, Inc.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Hilti steel studs horizontally to the brick walls. Next, screw wallboard to these studs. My second choice is to glue wallboard directly to the brick, using wallboard to brick adhesive, after the brick has been cleaned and dried thoroughly. Use a few concrete nails per sheet to hold the board while the glue is drying.
—Cornelius Martens, Owner
Atchelitz Drywall
Chilliwack, B.C., Canada


Fur with 1 5/8" studs and apply drywall. This provides a straight plumb wall with space for electrical, plumbing, cabling, etc.
—Anonymous

I would chase out wall with a minimum 1 5/8" stud (2 1/2" would be better) as well as lateral supports at midspan along with clips from the studs (checking the limiting height tables) to brick attached with Tapcons. If they insisted on drywall directly to brick, I’d pass on job.
—Brian Mead
Commercial Builders, Inc.
Pompano Beach, Florida


Why does everything have to be drywalled? Plaster them.
—Anonymous

When we run across this situation we need to evaluate the substrate first. If the brick is smooth and straight, we can laminate the gypsum board directly onto the brick using drywall adhesive. This is the most cost efficient way but it does not allow for items such as electrical conduit or plumbing lines to be concealed. If the brick varies but is strong enough to hold a concrete pin, we attach hat channel or Z-furring to support the gypsum board; this allows a cavity for electrical conduit to be installed and gives us a good substrate for attachment of the gypsum board. The preferred method for most of our projects is to fur out the wall using a channel stud clipped to the brick wall, which allows us to plumb and straighten the existing wall and also allows for electrical conduits, plumbing lines, etc. to be installed behind, and if needed, insulation can be added.
—Thomas Engel, General Manager
Shepherd & Son Inc.
San Leandro, California


Substituting an interior plaster system instead of drywall would allow the owner a desirable texture with little chance of delamination, and it would put a plasterer to work!
—Anonymous

I would attach a Z furring or resilient channel horizontally attaching at the mortar joints, then screw the gypsum panels to the furring strips. Between Z furring foam insulation can be installed to insulate the wall.
—Anonymous

Attach the drywall to either 7/8" drywall furring channel or, if you would like to add insulation, you may use a Z furring channel with polystyrene insulation. Of course one may fur out the wall with any size studs. Finally, one may apply the drywall directly to the brick by using glue and nails at the mortar joints.
—Anonymous

Fur out brick with 3/4 furring strips attached with OSI glue and 1 1/2 cut nails. Attach drywall with 1 1/8 drywall screws.
—Anonymous

Hammer drill and nylon pin anchors (Powers 1/4 x 2" Cat# 02562) drill through the [wallboard] and into the brick; the anchors will not hold in the mortar. These Powers anchors have a beveled head like a drywall screw and are easy to work with without tearing the face of the [wallboard]. No need to glue.
—Anonymous

Set stud wall off the brick and fasten to the floor and ceiling. If insulating the wall, a 2" application of 2.0 lb. foam would work great. Set stud wall off the brick and fasten to the floor and ceiling. If insulating the wall, a 2" application of 2.0 lb. foam would work great.
—Anonymous