There are many occasions where you might need to drill into brick. You may need to attach a heavy cabinet to a wall, for example, or you might want to mount a large flat panel TV. The thought of drilling into brick can be intimidating, but it is not as difficult as you might imagine, as long as you follow these simple steps.
Which Type of Drill Do You Need?
If you are only mounting a small object that will need just a few holes no more than an inch deep, a regular drill may be sufficient, although you will need to visit your local home improvement store and buy a carbide-tipped masonry bit for the job.
Hanging heavier objects will mean more holes, drilled to a greater depth, and for that you will need either a hammer drill or a combi drill with hammer mode. A hammer drill rotates like a regular drill but also gives rapid thrusts like a hammer, which break the masonry as you drill and allow you to bore into hard surfaces quickly and easily.
Should You Drill Into the Brick or the Mortar?
You will get a lot of different answers to this question!
Sometimes you don’t have a lot of choice, depending on the way in which the item you want to mount lines up with the brickwork. If you DO have a choice, you might prefer to drill into the mortar as it is softer and easier to work with. At the same time, you need to remember that mortar can’t support as much weight as brick – it is really only suitable for hanging things like frames and pictures. On the other hand, old bricks may be fragile and liable to cracking, so it really is a matter of assessing the size of the object you are mounting and the condition of your brickwork in order to make the decision.
Step 1 – Safety Precautions
First, ensure that there are no pipes or cables that you might hit when you are drilling. For this reason, you should never drill immediately above or below an electrical outlet.
Next, make sure that you are wearing the proper protective gear, including hearing protection, tough gloves, goggles, and an N95 respirator. This may seem excessive, but the dust from bricks and mortar contains crystalline silica, which is very hazardous to your health when inhaled.
If you are using a ladder, ensure that it is firmly situated on a stable surface.
Step 2 – Mark the Spots Where You Will Be Drilling
Measure carefully, then mark the places you plan to drill the holes with a pencil or a Sharpie. Double-check that your markings are accurate by holding up the item you are mounting to the wall and assessing that the drilling locations are correct.
Step 3 – Ensure That You Won’t Drill Too Deeply
There are two ways you can do this. One is to set a stop guide on your drill that matches the depth of the desired hole. You will need to refer to the instructions that came with the item you are mounting for the recommended hole depth. If your drill does not have a stop guide, simply wrap some masking tape around the masonry bit to mark the stop point you need.
Step 4 – Start Drilling the Pilot Hole
If you are on a ladder, ensure that the position you are standing in will allow you to stay stable once you start pushing.
Then, place your pilot drill bit perpendicular to the wall and start drilling at low speed. Make sure you keep the drill steady by holding it with two hands – one hand should be on the pistol grip and the other on the auxiliary handle (if available).
You should use just enough force to start the drill bit when drilling the pilot hole and adjust the pushing force you are applying until you feel the bit bite into the brick. At that point, you can use a steady pushing force to drill the hole to the depth you need. It can be tempting to put your full weight behind it, but it is better to let the drill do the work for you and simply lean into it rather than forcing it. Be careful to keep the drill steady and avoid wiggling it, or you will end up with a wider hole than you intended.
Step 5 – Use a Larger Masonry Bit
Change to a larger masonry bit and check again that your drill bit is level and perpendicular to the wall. Then drill into the pilot hole up to the required depth.
Step 6 – Clean Out the Hole
There are several ways in which you can do this. One is to keep the drill bit spinning and simply move it back and forth in the hole, although this is the least effective way.
Another is to blow out the dust using compressed air. Alternatively, you can buy a rawlplug hole cleaning pump, which efficiently clears all debris with just one plunge.
It is important to be thorough with this step because any dust left in the hole will stop screws, wall anchors, or resin adhesives from holding on to items as powerfully as they should.
Step 8 – Insert Your Wall Anchors
You should now be able to safely install your wall anchors designed to support the weight of the item you are attaching to the wall and mount it using screws.
Step 7 – Clean Up Your Work Area
Be sure to wear your protective gear even at this stage. Use a dustpan and broom to clear up any larger pieces of debris and an appropriate vacuum with a filter to clean up the dust if you have one available. If not, mop up the dust and make sure that you wash the mop. It is also recommended that you take off your shoes outside and clean them, then take a shower and wash your clothing in order to avoid the presence of silica dust in your home