How To Drill Into Brick

December 2, 2022

Displaying pictures and artwork, adding shelves, hanging curtains… wall drilling is a staple element of home renovation, especially if you’re a bit of a DIY enthusiast. 

However, with the rise of homeowners opting for exposed brick as a cosy and rustic interior design choice, many DIYers are having difficulties doing home drilling projects they might previously have found much easier. 

Drilling and Home Renovation 

Whether it’s something as simple as hanging a television on a wall, or a more complex job such as fitting a new chimney flue or extractor fan, some of our most frequently asked questions are about safely drilling into brick. So, we felt that it was time for us to share some of our top tips to help you to drill the perfect holes in your brick walls. 

Whilst these tips are here to help, something to remember is that if you’re feeling unsure about doing the drilling job yourself, you can always get in touch with us. We’re UK-based diamond drilling experts who offer our domestic services in the North West and East Midlands, and commercial services all across the country. 

 Which drill type and drill bit are the best to use on brick?

First things first, you’ll need to make sure that you have the correct drill and drill bit for the job. This is a pretty important step to avoid any issues such as cracking or breakage that could damage the structural integrity of the surface you’re drilling into - not ideal if it’s a wall essential for the foundations of your home. If you’re finding that you’ve tried some different options and still can’t drill through the brick, then it’s likely that you aren’t using the correct tools for the job. 

Brace drills, hand drills, cordless drills… the list goes on, and they’re all suitable for different jobs. There are  so many different types of drills available on the market, so it’s understandable when DIYers find themselves using the wrong drill for their project. For creating holes in tough materials such as brick, stone, metal and concrete, we’d recommend using a hammer drill. Hammer drills have a unique combination of rotary and hammer actions, meaning that their power is ideal for cutting through robust materials. 

Even so, that’s not to say that hammer drills are an absolute necessity for your home drilling project. Depending on the type of brick you have, you might find that a regular drill can do the job - for example, if it’s a bit softer due to age or wear. 

Once you’ve acquired the correct drill for the job, you’ll then need to get a masonry drill bit to cut through the brick.

What is a masonry drill bit?

To ensure you drill through the brick safely and efficiently, you’ll require a masonry drill bit. You might find yourself wondering what the difference between all of the different drill bits available is - and the answer is that they are all suitable for drilling through different materials. Some, like masonry drill bits, are designed to cut through tougher building materials such as concrete, tiles and bricks, whilst others are more suitable for materials such as wood and plastic without damaging them. 

Unsure if you have the correct drill bit for your brick? Masonry drill bits can be identified through their wide, arrow-shaped heads that are suitable for grinding down the sturdy surface of building materials.

Something we’d always recommend checking before drilling is checking the sharpness of your drill bit. If you’ve used a drill bit several times and forgotten to make sure it’s cooled properly after use, then chances are it’s likely to have gotten a bit blunt or warped. Blunt drill bits can lead to messy, inaccurate holes that aren’t ideal for the interior design of your home or the foundations of the brick should cracks occur. 

The difference between drilling into bricks and mortar 

Bricks, as we know, play a major role in construction. They’re the blocks that makeup walls and paths - and mortar is typically the binding agent holding them all together. Bricks and mortar are quite different in texture and density, so it’s important to identify which one it is you’ll be drilling into. 

When choosing where you’d like to drill into, you’ve also got to consider the weight of the item that you’re looking to mount or fit into the wall. If it’s something quite heavy then you’re best drilling into the brick as mortar is softer and can’t support as much weight which could cause issues down the line. However, ageing brick can also cause complications when adding fixtures to your home. Bricks are incredibly tough building materials, but they aren’t immune to the effects of time and bad weather. So, if you think that your brick may be a bit weaker due to age or moisture issues it might be time to think about some alternative plans for your drilling project. 

Line it up 

When you’ve decided on where you’d like to drill, it’s important to mark the area exactly to make sure you get the desired results. Whilst it might be tempting to drill freehand, it’s key to remember that once you’re up there you might find it difficult to get the exact area planned without any guidance, resulting in further work when the holes need to be drilled. 

Firstly, you’ll need to know the area - be sure that there aren’t any essential pipes or wires hidden behind the brick as this can be a massive safety hazard. Once you’re sure that the area is safe, you can then choose where you’d like to drill your holes. If you’re hanging something like a picture then you might also find it beneficial to use a ruler or a spirit level to measure the area so you can achieve really professional, clean results. We’d recommend marking the area with something that can be easily removed such as masking tape, pencil or chalk.

How far to drill?

To make sure that you don’t drill too far, you’ll need to set up a stop on your drill. If you’re using a hammer drill, this should have come with a set of instructions that can recommend hole depths and help you to set the stop guide. Not got a stop guide? Use masking tape on the drill bit to mark how far you’d like to go. 

As always, we’ll put our little note about safety: drilling into masonry materials requires safety gear including protective goggles, respiratory protection and gloves. We’d also strongly recommend changing out of any loose articles of clothing or any jewellery, as well as tying long hair out of your face. 

Do I need to pilot drill my brick?

Wondering if you need to pilot drill the area? Chances are, you probably do. We’d strongly recommend pilot drilling to help guide your bigger drill bit and keep it straight, ensuring accuracy. Pilot drilling is also a safe choice as it can stop your drill from slipping, which can prove dangerous for both yourself and the wall you’re drilling into. 

For pilot drilling, we’d recommend using a smaller masonry drill bit for your initial hole, then starting with the larger drill bit when this area is marked. 

Slow and steady

Once you’ve prepared the area and got the correct size masonry drill bit ready for use, it’s time to start drilling. Be sure to line your drill up correctly and hold with one hand on the auxiliary handle and one on the grip to achieve accurate, level results safely.

Patience is key here - try not to rush or apply too much pressure. Going slowly with gentle pressure will achieve the results desired without cracking the surrounding bricks and causing unnecessary damage. 

Throughout the drilling process, don’t forget to keep it cool. Sponging the area occasionally with water will act as both a coolant and lubricant for the drill bit as it creates friction with the hard surface of the brick. You may feel tempted to skip this step, especially if it’s a relatively quick job, but this is essential to maintaining the longevity of your drill bit. If improperly cooled your drill bit can end up warped or blunt, rendering it useless for future work. 

How to clean up after drilling? 

Done drilling? It’s time to clean the area! Fortunately, using water as a coolant during the drilling process can reduce the amount of dust produced. However, you’ll still want to give the area a good clean by hoovering away the dust or any brick chips lying around, as well as giving it a further wipe down with some water. 

Drilled into the incorrect place? You might be looking to seal the openings. If this is the case, make sure that the area is clean and then seal it with mortar paste. This can be matched to your current wall colour through brick colour powder. 

Need a hand?

We hope that our tips have helped you. If you’re still feeling unsure about what to do, why not get in touch with us? We offer our domestic drilling services across the North West and East Midlands, and commercial services nationwide. Arrange your free site visit and quote today.