How to Drill into Brick | Tips and FAQs

How to Drill into Brick | Tips and FAQs

Decorative brick adds warmth and style to any building, and although it is a tough surface you shouldn’t be deterred from drilling into it just because you don’t know how to drill into brick. This can be a daunting task for some people, but it really isn’t as difficult as you might think if you know what to do. You just need the right tools, techniques, and a little bit of know-how to get it right.

Should you Drill into Brick or Mortar?

Should you Drill into Brick or Mortar?

Something that people don’t really think about before drilling into a brick wall is whether they should be drilling into the actual brick or the mortar. However, it is much better to drill into the brick as opposed to mortar, because brick is much stronger will be able to hold heavy objects, such as a TV. On the other hand, mortar is very fragile and is very susceptible to crumbling if drilled into.

However, there are times when it is okay to drill through mortar. For example, if you are drilling a hole to run an electrical cable or small diameter piping, then drilling through mortar is your safer option, as the cable and piping are light and can be supported by the mortar. Further, it is much easier to replace if broken than brick.

How to Drill into Brick

How to Drill into Brick

Brick is a fragile material that can easily be cracked or shattered if too much pressure is applied to it or the wrong bit is used. So when you’re trying to drill into brick, you’ll want to be as careful as possible and make sure you have the proper tools and best drill bits to avoid making a mistake.

With a Hammer Drill

drilling into brick

If you want to drill a larger hole in brick then you may need to use a hammer drill. These are specifically made for drilling into concrete, cinder block, and brick. The hammer drill works by cutting into the surface to break it up, slowly carving out a hole in the process.

To drill a hole through brick with a hammer drill, make sure that the drill bit is aligned correctly and at the desired angle for the hole. Before you begin, make sure you have a tight and firm grip on the drill to prevent it from shaking and making your hole larger than intended.

Once your hands are set, apply a good amount of pressure, but mainly just let the drill do all the work. If you apply too much pressure, then you might cause the bit to bend or break, so start small and work your way up as needed. When you’re ready to back the drill out, keep the bit spinning and simply pull the drill straight back.

Without a Hammer Drill

Drilling through brick is harder when you don’t have a hammer drill, but it is not impossible. However, we do advise that you use a masonry bit, as it’ll be tough to drill through your brick without cracking it with other bits. When selecting your masonry bit size, you’ll want to consider the position, size, and depth of the hole needed for the project. Remember, you can always make the hole bigger, but you can’t make it smaller.

Once you’ve selected the bit you’re going to use, grab a pencil and mark the spot on the brick where you want to drill the hole. This will help ensure that your hole is exactly where you want it to be.

Lastly, before you begin drilling, make sure your drill is set to regular spin. If your drill is on the wrong setting when you begin drilling, you’ll likely cause damage to the brick. Now that you are all set, you’re ready to begin drilling! Keep reading for more information on how to avoid cracking the brick when you drill.

Without Cracking It

If you don’t have a hammer drill handy, you’ll need to be extra careful to avoid cracking the brick when drilling your hole. As we mentioned earlier, the ideal way to drill a hole into brick is with a masonry bit. These are long and thin bits that usually have a spiral shape to them. Depending on the hole size you’re wanting to drill, find a bit that’s the right size for your job, mark the wall to have a clear target for your operation, and wear your protective equipment.

Before you begin drilling, you may want to make a small pilot hole before you start using the masonry bit. When you’re drilling the pilot hole, make sure that your drill is level and perpendicular to the brick, to ensure your hole is drilled straight.

Once you have the test hole started, take out the pilot bit and replace it with the masonry bit and begin drilling slowly with a small amount of pressure. As the hole gets deeper, you can increase the speed and add more pressure as needed. Once you’ve got the hole deep enough, continue slowly drilling and pull the drill back towards you.

How to Drill Screws into Brick

Whether you are hanging some sort of art, a clock, or a flowerpot holder on an exterior brick wall or want to place something above the mantel on a brick fireplace, the dilemma is the same. How do you put the screws into the bricks and make them stay?

If you try and install the screws into the mortar between the bricks you will find that it just crumbles, so you will need to drill the screws into the actual brick. To drill screws into brick you’ll first need to find the proper bit size for your screw. For example, if you’re using 3/16-inch screws you’ll need a 5/32-inch carbide drill bit. For 1/4-inch screws, use a 3/16-inch carbide drill bit.

You will then need to drill trial (or pilot) holes in the brick for each screw, to ensure that it goes into the brick easily. You’ll want to make the trial holes just a tad bit deeper than the length of the screw you’re using. From there, remove the drill bit from the drill and replace it with your carbide drill bit and drive the masonry screws into the brick at each pilot hole. Allow the screw heads to slightly protrude from the brick so you can easily hang your item.

Tips for Drilling into Brick

If you’re in a hurry, we’ve made a quick list of some of our top tips to keep in mind when learning how to drill into brick. If you need more help, check out more detailed tips in our top 20 drilling tips.

  • First of all, you should make sure you are wearing the necessary protective equipment. This includes a face mask, gloves, goggles, and ear defenders. It is also advised to wear long sleeves as brick and mortar can be corrosive to skin.
  • When you’re drilling the hole, start slow to reduce the risk of cracking the brick.
  • If you are drilling into the brick you should always try and drill into the center of it, as it is the strongest part.
  • Regularly stop and bring the drill out to remove any dust or debris out of the hole, as it could clog up the drill bit and cause unnecessary wear on your drill. As the brick is a strong material, the drill will be working hard already, so there is no need to make it work even harder.
  • If your drill starts to get hot, take a break and let it cool down so it doesn’t overheat.
  • Don’t apply a lot of pressure when using your drill, as this might cause the brick to crack or shatter.
  • If you are drilling a hole all the way through the brick, slow down when you think you’re nearing the other side to avoid cracking the opposite side of the brick.
  • Make sure your drill is correctly rated for the size of the hole you are drilling to prevent over-heating and damaging your drill.
  • Make sure when you are drilling at a 90-degree angle, perpendicular to the wall to ensure the hole is straight.
  • If you are drilling a big hole, consider drilling a pilot hole to make the process more gradual an ensure the hole is exactly where you want it to be.

Final Thoughts

Drilling through brick isn’t easy, but now that you have learned the proper techniques and some tips and tricks, you should feel a lot more confident in your abilities. Remember to be careful when you’re drilling and take your time. You can always go back and make the hole a bit bigger or drill another hole if needed, but you can’t easily fix a crack!