Attaching a Ledger
to Brick Walls

This is a Q and A article about the best methods for Attaching a Ledger to Brick walls.

In the most part the methods here serve both for attached pergola and attached deck construction.

Mr S. from Texas wrote in to with this question :


Thank you very much for your question Mr S. this is a very important consideration when planning any exterior construction that is attached to the brick face of your home.

Brick can be really mean when water is trapped and soaks into the surface of your home - before you know it you could have darker stains running down the brick at the part of the wall effected - it´s then really difficult to resolve this problem in getting the color of the bricks back to the same shade and tone as the rest of the wall of your house when cleaning up - they either remain too dark or clean up too light.

Anyway, back to your question of how to mount the beam to your house which has a brick face.

I hope that I am interpreting your message correctly in that you want your beams to run parallel to the brick of your house so that the rafters will sit on them perpendicular to the wall, i.e. running away from the wall of your house.

This means that the inner beam - the one that attaches to the brick wall is what we are going to call the Ledger and at the outer edge of your pergola construction you can use a single beam or double outer beams that will be attached to posts at the same height as the ledger.

Just to summersize the rest of the pergola construction process: connecting the ledger and the outer beams are the rafters running perpendicular (at right angles to a given line, plane or surface - i.e. where the rafter head meets the ledger surface and has equal angles on either side to ensure that it comes out plumb away from the wall) from the house and which then usually overhang the front beams.

Depending on the amount of shade you want - slats are often placed above the rafters crossing over them - these like the beams also parallel to the house.

Attaching a Ledger to Brick

It is important to keep both the wood of the ledger and the brick wall surface watertight or seperated so that either way - rain water and moisture do not build up in between to damage the two surfaces.

The most common method is to place the ledger tight against the brick and then fix angled metal flashing to the wall just above the ledger, the flashing goes over the top and down over the edge of the ledger - all edges of the flashing as well as the heads of any nails and lag screws used should then be sealed with siliconized caulk... as shown in the following illustration.

Illustration showing method for attaching a ledger to brick walls

- For pergola construction only - as an alternative to flashing we can seperate the outdoor timber ledger from the brick wall by using spacers.

Attaching a ledger to brick with the use of spacers gives the advantage that air can flow in between and helps the surfaces to fully dry out after rainy days.

Attaching a ledger to brick walls is done using 2 lag screws about every 14 - 16 inches - I prefer to counterbore the pilot holes to countersink the color plated or stainless steel lag screws and washers. The screws go through the timber - through the spacers and into masonry anchors which are inserted into the holes you have drilled into the brick wall. The outer surface heads of the lag screws should be sealed with silicon caulk.

A ledger for pergola construction does not need to be able to support the weight of a ledger used in deck construction, for pergola construction a 2 x 8 pressure treated ledger cut to length is often sufficient, although for the more rustic look you can use thicker timber to help support the weight of heavy vines - however it is important to use enough lag screws frequently along the length of the ledger so that it maintains its position shape over time and doesn´t warp.

If you attach your ledger beam to your brick wall by this method the only thing that is going to come between your ledger and the wall is air - if done properly you won´t have unsightly green mold, or damp stains developing around the ledger and down your wall.

Important considerations when
- Attaching a Ledger to Brick

  • Always make sure your plans meet local planning zoning regulations.
  • Get your building permits in your hand before you start spending money.
  • Make sure your plans meet building code requirements.
  • Place your Pergola Ledger about 8 feet to 10 feet above surface (deck or ground) - unless your local regulations state otherwise.
  • Measure twice before you cut - throughout your project.
  • This is an outdoor project using wood - make sure your timber comes with the right protection - either naturally like high grade cedar and redwood or a lower grade timber that has been pressure-treated.
  • Use wood sealer on all cut ends and re-coat the whole construction after a couple of weeks.
  • Stainless steel or color plated screws won´t stain cedar, redwood or some of the newer pressure treated timbers.
  • Always use a level to make sure that the ledger is plumb - this is vital to the rest of your construction.
  • This project is much easier with two pairs of hands.
  • Always use silicon caulk to seal joints and keep the water out.
  • Your safety is a priority - always follow the manufacturers instructions for any tools used and always wear your safety gear.

Other options for mounting beams
- instead of attaching a ledger to brick...

The following method refers only to pergola construction and NOT deck construction.

I have seen people use metal hangers set on individual ornate wooden plaques which were attached individually to the wall every 16 to 24 inches or so - this method is not only time consuming but each piece has to be measured and placed exactly level along the wall - a lot harder than using one straight piece of timber - and, don´t forget - the hangers were still visible - of course if you have a lot of time on your hands you could create a wooden U frame set on each plaque for the beams to sit in and be screwed down!.

In Summary - Attaching a Ledger to Brick

It is important to the success of any project to resolve any questions before you begin - as Mr S has wisely done by requesting information on attaching a ledger to brick. Careful planning means a much more enjoyable build and often less wastage in time and in materials.

Building a pergola is a wonderful home improvement and financing project, it is perhaps the quickest way to transform the look of your home and make the most of your outdoor living space - and if you live in a brick house... your build can start simply by Attaching a Ledger to Brick the right way.

Enjoy your construction
I will still add a couple more graphics to this page asap.
Best Building wishes.

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