An exposed brick wall in your living room or bedroom might seem like a dream. That is until you try to hang something from it.
Regular drill bits just won’t work on brick walls, and you can’t exactly pound a nail through brick.
So how to drill into brick? The secret is all in the type of drill bit you use. Here’s everything you need to know about drilling into brick.
Tips for Drilling Into Brick
Before you get started drilling into brick, take a look at these tips so that things go as smoothly as possible.
- Choose your drill. You can use a regular handheld drill (corded or cordless) to drill through brick. You can also choose to use a hammer drill, which will deliver a bit more power, but at a higher price.
- Choose the right drill bit. Look for drill bits labeled as masonry bits, which are typically made of carbide, a very durable material. If you’re using a hammer drill, you’ll want to pick out drill bits designed for use in a hammer drill.
- Keep the drill and drill bits cool. You don’t want your drill or the drill bits to get too hot while you make the holes in the wall or another brick surface. To keep things under control, have a bottle of water handy so that you can spray the drill bits to cool them off as you work.
- Drill in phases if needed. What we mean by that is start out making a hole that’s smaller in diameter than what you need, if you’re going to make a big hole. For example, first drill a hole using a 1/8-inch bit, then work your way up, increasing the width of the drill by 1/8 or 1/4 inch each time.
- Mark your drill bit. If you need to know how to drill into brick but only to a certain depth, it helps to measure the length of the item that will go into the hole, then mark its length on the drill bit. Porch recommends using painter’s tape to make it easy to see how far you can drill.
- Wear safety gear. It’s always a good idea to wear safety goggles and long sleeves/pants when using any sort of power tool.
How to Drill Through Brick With a Handheld Drill
Now that we’ve covered the basic tips to help you figure out how to drill into brick let’s take a look at how to drill through brick using a handheld drill.
Note that it’s pretty crucial that you have a drill that has a fair amount of power to get through brick. You can use a cordless drill, but make sure the battery is fully charged first.
We recommend not trying to use a power screwdriver or anything that’s pretty wimpy to try to break through brick.
What you’ll need:
- Carbide tipped drill bits/masonry bits
- Painter’s tape (optional)
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Pencil or markers
- Spray bottle or bucket of water
- Compressed air spray bottle
What to do:
- Fit the smallest size masonry drill bit into your drill. Remember, you’ll most likely need to drill a few times in the same spot if you’re making a wider hole.
- Measure the size of the anchor. The length of the anchor should correspond to the depth of the hole. If you’re not using anchors, you can skip this step.
- Mark the drill bit with the tape. If you’re only going to drill to a certain depth, wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit in the spot that corresponds to that depth.
- Put on your safety goggles. It’s also a good idea to wear a dust mask or respirator, as you don’t want to breathe in brick dust, according to Bob Vila.
- Mark on the wall where you plan to drill. You may need to use a ruler and level to make sure the marks are evenly spaced and exactly where you want the holes to be.
- Position the drill and drill bit over the first marking. Before you start drilling, make sure the drill bit is level. You don’t want to start drilling at a crooked angle.
- Spray the drill bit with water as you drill. The water will help keep the drill and bit cool. Also, remember to work slowly and avoid pushing too hard on the drill.
- Take a break if needed. Is the drill heating up? Pause drilling and give it a chance to cool off.
- Spray the hole(s) with compressed air. Use a can of compressed air (like you’d use to clean a keyboard) to remove any dust and debris from the hole(s) once you’ve finished drilling.
- Slide any anchors into the holes, if you’re using them. Hang up the item using screws.
How to Drill Into Brick with a Hammer Drill
You might find that it’s a lot easier to learn how to drill into brick if you use a hammer drill. Unlike a standard handheld drill, a hammer drill, well, hammers.
The drill both spins and uses a back and forth motion to create a hole in hard materials, including brick.
Using a hammer drill is a bit different from using a standard drill, although there are some similarities between the two.
For example, you’ll want to wear safety goggles when using a hammer drill. You’ll also want to mark the area where you’ll be drilling and clean up afterward to remove dust and debris.
Another thing worth noting is that hammer drills often have a helper handle near the drill bit. Because of the extra strength and force of the drill, the helper handle is vital for helping you maintain control of the drill.
So, should you use a hammer drill or a regular one to drill into brick? It all depends on you. If you have easy access to a hammer drill, go for it.
But if using a particular drill means having to purchase one or rent one for a few hours, it might be easier to use what you’ve already got.
Should You Drill Hole in Brick or Mortar?
Figuring out where to make the holes when learning how to drill into brick is as essential as knowing how to make them.
When you drill into brick, you’ve got two options. The first is to drill into the brick itself.
OK, that seems easy enough. The second option is to drill into the mortar, the material that gets sandwiched between the bricks.
So, what’s the difference and is one better than the other?
You guessed it — it all depends on your circumstances. The age of the brick, the weight of the thing you’re hanging, and the size of the holes you make all influence whether or not it’s better to drill into mortar or brick.
Generally speaking, brick can support more weight than the mortar can. The exception to that is if the brick is older and worn down. Bricks that might have structural issues on the inside or that were of low quality to begin with might not have enough substance to support being drilled into.
Take a close look at the brick before you drill into it. If you see visible signs of cracking or other signs of wear, it’s better to drill into the mortar.
Another benefit of drilling into mortar is that it can be easier to patch up. Let’s say you’ve drilled into a brick wall because you want to hang a piece of art from it.
After a while, you tire of the art and want to change things up. If you drilled into the mortar, you can take down the art and use a mortar repair paste to fill in the hole easily.
Final Thoughts on How to Drill Into Brick
Don’t let a fear of drilling into brick stop you from decorating an exposed brick wall indoors or stop you from hanging planters and other decorative objects from an outdoor brick wall.
When it comes down to it, drilling into brick simply means having the right tools for the job. The most important thing is to have the right drill bits — in this case, a masonry bit.
You’ll also want to make sure your drill is powerful enough for the task. A hammer drill might be a better option for you, don’t be scared to try out a regular handheld drill.
Now that you know how to drill into brick go ahead and give it a try. You might find that your new-found skill is worth more than you ever thought.