Should You Drill Into Brick or Mortar?

Drill Brick or Mortar
Drilling into solid materials such as wood, plastic, or metal for example can be performed with a standard drill. This is because such materials are strong, solid, and when drilled into tend to stay intact as the holes are being created. The same cannot be said for brick or mortar as they have different properties compared to materials such as wood, plastic, or metal.

Should I Drill into Brick or Mortar?

It is always best to drill into brick since the brick can take more load and the anchor plug stays very secure. The only exception is when the brick is old and cracked or when you only need to hand a lightweight item. In such cases drilling into mortar is better because it is easy to drill and repair damaged mortar.

Before you go ahead and grab your drill and start drilling the wall, you should know that the regular cordless drill is not the right tool to drill into brick or masonry. Instead you need a hammer drill to do that. But first, let’s find out if the brick or mortar has enough strength to hold the things in place.

Can I Mount TV, Brackets, or Hose Reels into Brick or Mortar?

The answer is yes, but it is more complicated than simply taking a standard drill using it with a standard drill bit. This is because standard drills and drill bits are designed to be used with solid materials that hold up as you drill into them.

Brick and mortar are solid but made up of smaller particles that are held together with a different process compared to wood, plastic, or metal. Plus, there are differences between brick and mortar used to hold the bricks in place. Bricks are building materials designed to be strong, sturdy, and relatively inexpensive compared to other construction materials. Mortar is the substance that bonds the bricks together and holds them in place.

Since bricks and mortar are designed for two different things, they require a different approach when you are considering drilling holes into them. This means that you will need to use the proper drill and drill bits to accomplish the task you want to achieve.

What Type of Drill to Use?

Can you use a regular drill to drill brick or mortar? The preferable drill for brick or mortar is the hammer drill or a rotary hammer. This is a type of drill that both turns the drill bit and hammers it into the material. The bit itself is moved back and forth in a pulsing manner to pound the tip of the drill bit into brick, mortar, or concrete. The application of force in this manner helps to punch clean holes in the brick or mortar, so that anchor points can be established.

SKIL 6445-04 drilling brick
Tool in Pic: Affordable SKIL 7 AMP Hammer Drill – Click to See Price

Of course, to use the hammer drill with brick or mortar, you will need to choose a masonry drill bit. These are generally bits that have wider flutes to process the dust created by the drilling of the holes into the brick or mortar.

What to Consider Before Drilling into Brick or Mortar?

Of course, there are other factors to consider before you start drilling. Even with the right tools, you will need to account for the following before you start drilling.

  • Type and age of the brick
  • Depth and diameter of the hole
  • Type of anchor being used
  • Amount of weight being applied to the fasteners

Be sure to consider all factors first so you can make the best-informed decision about what to use when drilling holes.

Drilling Brick

The heavier the object you want to hold, the stronger the material needs to be to hold it in place. In most cases, brick is preferable to mortar because it is stronger and more solid. Brick can hold a considerable amount of weight thanks to its solid design. When you add the weight of the mortar and bricks surrounding it, this means that you can anchor heavy objects to the brick itself with little worry.

But there are some issues with brick starting with the difficulty in matching the colors when filling the holes left by the drill. This may not be an issue if you do not care about the color of the patches. Or, if the brick has been painted since you can simply paint over it.

However, if the brick is quite old and fragile or crumbly, then you might consider the mortar instead assuming it is in good shape. This is because cracked or aged brick no longer has the resilience to hold up heavy objects or resist cracking when drilled into by a masonry bit.

Drilling Mortar

Mortar is easier to drill through because it is softer than brick. Plus, mortar is easier to repair compared to brick, so that may be preferable depending on the size of the holes and the weight of the object that you want to anchor.

However, the downside is the softness of the material itself which means that heavy or large, cumbersome objects are not best suited to be anchored in mortar.

Size & Location

The next consideration is the precise location of where you want to drill the holes. You should do some measuring first to establish the height along the wall where the drilling will take place. It should be at or quite near the desired location. For example, if you are hanging a garden hose reel to the outside brick wall of your home, then it should be at a height convenient for you and your family members to easily reach, yet be low enough to the ground for easy unreeling.

When mounting heavy objects like large screen TVs, make sure that the screws are going into a stud or solid brick for maximum grip.
Location and type of wall to mount TV

Next, the size of the holes is quite important. Ideally, they need to be just large enough to establish your anchors, but not too large that it creates shifting or movement when the object is placed. Another consideration is the type of anchors being used.

Types of Anchors

There are several types of anchors, some of which are used for concrete that would not apply to brick. The most common anchors for brick or mortar are masonry concrete screws or Tapcons as they are sometimes called.

ITW Tapcon Concrete Anchors
Above: Tapcon Anchors for Brick & Concrete – Click for details

Tapcons are easy to identify since they are bright blue is coloring. They appear as typical screws and are available in flathead or Philips design. Both types have hexagon-shaped heads which may also be turned with the proper device. Simply drill the hole, then drive in the screw. The screw should be long enough to hold the object properly. Other anchor types for masonry include the following.

  • Sammys Hanging Anchors: Used for heavy objects like A/C units
  • Double Expansion Shield Anchors: Good at limiting chances of cracking bricks
  • Sleeve Anchors: Best used to hold light objects

These are the most common of anchors used for brick and mortar. Before you start drilling, be sure you have the ones needed to do the job.