Drilling Into Bricks – A Complete Guide

Drilling Into Bricks

There are few things more terrifying as a homeowner than attempting to drill into a brick wall.

Even if you’ve planned it all out and certain you have the right parts for the job, there’s still a sense of anxiety as you plunge the drill into the brick and wait to see what happens.

Whether you’re trying to hang a picture, a flat-screen TV, or new shelving, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a brick wall sooner or later.

Drilling into brick is something that terrifies most people and puts them off from the job entirely, but it doesn’t have to be if you have the right tools and a little bit of know-how.

Can you drill into brick and what’s the right way to do it?

It is possible to drill into a brick wall safely but depending on the size of the hole you need to make and its purpose, this requires different things.

A small one-inch hole requires a carbide-tipped masonry bit and minimal effort but for heavier objects or larger holes, additional parts are needed.

Nothing beats the look and feel of a brick wall whether it’s indoors or on your home’s exterior, so we want to take the right steps to ensure it’s done safely and without damage.

This guide can teach you everything you need to know about drilling into brick so you have this one handy trick up your sleeve ready for whatever type of jobs come your way.

Common Types of Brick Walls at Home

There are three main categories that masonry bricks fall into when you’re looking inside and outside the home.

If you’re unsure what you have, it may be ideal to speak to a professional to ensure you’re not drilling into something you shouldn’t be.

As a rough guide, here’s some further explanation on the most common types of brick and what they mean for your next project that involves drilling.

  • Veneer

Veneer walls are made up of a single layer of bricks that are joined with wooden or steel studs. The inner wall is what holds the weight of the structure so the outer wall is purely for looks.

If you plan on drilling into a veneer wall, you’ll need a lot of strength, but in most cases, it’s completely safe as long as you choose the right position.

  • Solid

A solid brick wall is the strongest of all, made up of two or more layers of thickness and reinforced with header bricks or metal ties.

As load-bearing walls, they’re the most important at home but due to their strength, they can also take lots of work to drill through.

  • Cavity

A cavity wall is one with an outer layer of brick with an air space in between. This space is between two to four inches with inner support that might consist of another layer of bricks, poured concrete, or a concrete block wall.

The issue with drilling into cavity walls is that it’s hard to know what’s inside them as they usually hide things like electric cables and pipes, so you have to know exactly what you’re doing.

Where To Drill on the Brick

Where To Drill On The Brick

One of the most important parts of drilling into a brick wall is knowing exactly where to position the drill. The planning stages of any home improvement job should take longer than the job itself, as you usually only get one chance to get it right.

If you make a mistake while drilling into brick, you won’t be able to reverse it, so take some time to map everything out.

First, consider the purpose of the hole you’re drilling and what it’s going to be used for. Is it to hang a picture, create a space for cables, or install shelving?

Plan the project out in its entirety before you begin and mark the area where you want to make a hole and how wide and deep you need it.

Consider also whether you’re drilling into the brick or the mortar as each has its own requirements. The brick is the harder piece of main construction and the mortar is the workable paste that’s been applied in between them to hold them together.

Generally, it’s recommended to drill into the mortar where possible, as it’s easier to do and reduces the risk of damaging the brick.

There are other important factors worth considering before you get started with drilling, so ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re doing the job the right the first time:

  • What type of brick am I drilling into?
  • How old is the brick wall and my house?
  • Should I drill into the brick or mortar?
  • Will I need an anchor or fastener and what type?
  • What does the object weight that I want to hang?
  • What depth and diameter will the hole need to be?

Preparation and Safety

Before you can begin the process of drilling into brick, you need to gather all of the tools and make sure you read through the steps that you’ll have to take.

There are risks involved when drilling and doing other projects around the home so you’ll need to wear a dust mask, gloves, and safety glasses. Make sure you understand how to use the drill and have read the instruction manual before you begin.

Anyone working with masonry and concrete drilling and cutting is at risk of a range of hazards, and this includes the home handyman.

Problems like exhaust fumes, dust inhalation, slips and falls, electrocution, and falling structures are all real risks that you face, so before you start any home DIY project you must be protected.

With your safety accounted for, you can begin assembling the tools. This can vary slightly depending on the size of hole you’re drilling, its purpose, and the type of wall you’re working with. However, for a standard hole you’ll need:

How to Drill Into Brick the Right Way

With all of the parts assembled and working knowledge of the drill and its parts, you can get started on the project. Follow the simple steps to complete the project and you’ll find that drilling into brick isn’t as daunting as you might have thought.

  1. Assess the object you plan on hanging, whether it’s a shelving unit or a picture. Check the weight and dimensions of it so you know what size hole you’ll have to drill and how it’s going to be held up.
  2. Choose a bolt that’s going to be strong enough to hold up the object you’re hanging. Measure the width and length of the bolt and this will help you find the corresponding drill bit to attach.
  3. Mark the spot on the wall using your pencil where you want to drill the hole and make sure you use a level and measuring tape to get it exact.
  4. If you’re mounting something heavier than usual, you’ll need to drill a hole in the wall first, called a ‘pilot hole’. Once that’s done, you’ll then use your screwdriver to screw the bolt into that hole manually.
  5. Choose a carbide-tipped masonry drill bit and attach it to your drill. Place it directly onto the spot you market and drill straight away. You shouldn’t have to use much force as the drill will do most of the work for you.
  6. If you’re drilling into denser or stronger brick, it may be more effort and will take longer than usual. Give the drill time to cool down now and then to prevent overheating. It can be helpful to have a bucket of water ready to dip the tip of the drill into but be careful to never submerge the drill itself into water.
  7. With the hole complete and at the right size, depth, and location, replace the drill bit with an impact driver or screwdriver bit. Attach the anchor screw and then drill it into the hole.
  8. Hang the painting or shelving once all of the holes have been drilled successfully.

The Importance of Bricks Screws and Brick Anchors

The Importance Of Bricks Screws And Brick Anchors

The use of brick screws and brick anchors is important when you’re drilling into either brick or mortar walls.

On especially tough jobs where you’re hanging heavier items or working with brick walls that are more dense or vulnerable to weakness, they can add another level of assurance to the job.

The brick anchor works as a fastener that gives additional holding power, especially when you’re drilling into hollow areas.

Many brick homes use construction that uses hollow bricks or cavity walls so it’s a good idea to learn about the structure of your home before going ahead to decide whether or not you need one.

A brick screw or concrete screw is a heavy-duty type of masonry screw that works with all types of materials including solid concrete, mortar joints, and brick.

When you decide to install this type of screw, you’ll need to drill a pilot hole first and then attach the screw, turning it clockwise. As it turns, it taps threads into the brick wall which holds it in place securely and gives the screw more strength.

The Best Drill Bits for Bricks

The Best Drill Bits For Bricks

When purchasing drill bits but for brick, you need to shop specifically for masonry bits.

These special parts are designed to work with brick, mortar, and stone, and although you can use a standard drill to do the job, a masonry bit is a safest and most powerful option for drilling into brick walls.

The preferred masonry bit for brick is one with a tungsten carbide tip as this material is known for its strength and quality. When you’re drilling through concrete and brick, you want the sharpest possible tool on the market, and tungsten carbide is the way to go.

A masonry bit works in two steps to cut a hole through the brick. First, it drills at a low speed to pierce through the wall with a larger diameter, and then when it reaches the shaft of the drill bit it can drill more slowly to finish the job.

You can choose any size drill bit to suit the project you’re doing and the size of the plug in the wall.

Related Questions

Drilling into brick can be an intimidating job at first but once you learn the basics of safety and how to do the job right, it doesn’t have to be.

There are loads of DIY projects that can be done with this one simple job so it’s a great skill to learn. If you want to know more about drilling into brick, check out the answers to these FAQs to give you the knowledge you need.

Can I Drill Into Any Wall?

Before you attempt to drill into a wall you should check to see if it’s safe, even if it’s not a brick wall. Walls that connect to your bathroom or kitchen may have plumbing behind them and once this has been punctured will be expensive to replace.

If you’re unsure, ask a professional to assess the space or use a stud finder to determine whether there’s anything behind there that can be damaged.

How Do I Drill Into Brick Without Cracking It?

To prevent cracking of the brick before you drill into it, first, you should establish whether it’s suitable for this type of pressure.

Older walls can be weak and may not respond to being drilled, leading to cracks that mean the brick has to be replaced. Using the right drill bit and planning where you’ll drill the hole will also prevent unnecessary damage.

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