November 10, 2022

How to drill into brick without cracking it

What causes bricks to crack when drilling them?

Deeper holes and expansion anchors weaken a feeble brick. The anchors can form excessive circular stress on the material, causing it to crack. If the brick is old, drilling into the mortar will be better. Assess the brick to ensure it is strong enough to be drilled. Deep holes create enough circular stress to crack the brick. If your drill bit is too big for your brick, it makes the brick crack or break.

How to drill into brick

  1. Gather your tools. Wrong tools mean you end up with cracks, rough edges, or no holes. For drilling into brick, you need a masonry drill bit, hammer drill, goggles, pencil, and safety equipment. 
  2. Inspect and mark the drill area. Before drilling, check whether there are live wires or pipes behind the brick. Avoid drilling above or below an electrical socket should be avoided. If you are unsure of the location of any live wires or pipelines, use a pipe and live wire detector to locate them. Once you have the site, mark your holes with a pencil or a marker in the locations you wish to drill, leaving them visible.
  3. Select depth and mark your drill. To prevent cracking, drill your holes to the correct depth. Some have a depth stop attachment, meaning you can set it to stop the drill once you get to a certain depth. Use masking tape as a depth stop as an alternative to a drill with a depth-stop attachment. To indicate the correct depth, place the wall plug next to the drill bit and wrap a piece of tape around the bit. The length of the taped area should be at least 5 mm longer than the plug to prevent the wall plug from diving too far into the hole, allowing your screw to grip the inside. 
  4. Choose the right drill size. Use a wall plug to screw something to a brick wall. Select the suitable drill bit for the wall plug size you are using. If you want to drive the wall plug into the tight alignment, the screw should be long enough to go through and split open the wallplug (Bosch-diy.com).
  5. Drill a pilot hole. When drilling into brick, use a pilot hole to keep the material from cracking or breaking during the drilling process. Create a small guide in the brick with a hammer and nail punch. Pilot holes are drilled with a smaller drill bit, making them smaller in diameter than the actual hole. Hold the drill in both hands when starting the screw hole with low speed and low pressure, then increase the drill’s speed a little and apply steady pressure until you reach your target depth.
  6. Drill the primary hole using a larger drill bit slightly smaller in diameter than the anchor used for a snug fit when installing the screw. Allow the drill and drill bit to work as you slowly drill the brick. Do not overwork the drill bit, to avoid overheating and wearing out. Increase the speed of the drill and move the drill straight back and forth to rid the hole of any debris. That prevents the flutes of the drill bit from clogging up. Keep the drill going for a few seconds and move it back and forth to remove any remaining dust and debris from the hole.
  7. Insert the wall plug into the wall. After pushing the wall plugin with your fingers, use a hammer to finish the job, pushing it in further. Once the wall plug’s head is flat with the wall. Ensure that the wall plugs can sustain the weight of the item you wish to put on the wall. They should fit securely on the wall and should not be loose. Remove any large brick dust chips from the floor with a broom and dustpan, or use a vacuum to collect the remainder of the dust.
  8. You can now insert the screw by twisting the head of the screw between your fingers until the tip of the screw enters the first few millimetres of an inserted wall plug. The screw should be the same size as the minimum screw size hole on the wall plug strip or slightly larger. An oversized screw might give more pressure on the brick wall and crack it.

Can I use a regular drill to drill into the brick?

Yes, but cutting into a brick wall with a regular, lightweight drill will not be strong enough to penetrate the block or handle the stress of drilling in masonry. Using the regular drill, you should use harder bits (Howstuffworks.com). You should also consider using a Dremel instead of a drill.

Where to drill into brick

You can drill directly into the brick itself or the mortar between bricks.

Do you have to have a hammer drill to drill into brick

Yes, use a hammer drill to drill into the brick. Failure to use a hammer drill with a hammer function damages your tool. It will not get the job done. If you do not have a hammer drill, you can still drill into a brick wall with a regular drill with a high-quality masonry bit. The tool still has to rely on its turning speed.

How to make drilling into brick easier

The drill has to be perpendicular to the brick wall. Drilling through brick and mortar stresses the hammer drill, causing it to heat up. Cool the bit by placing it in cold water. If the bit gets stuck while drilling, reverse it. Use a marker to point on the mortar indicating where you need to drill.

How long should it take to drill into brick?

It should take 10 seconds to drill a hole with a bit and hammer drill into brick.

Why is it taking so long to drill into brick?

It is because masonry is much tougher and dense. The drill might be spinning in the wrong direction. If the drill bit enters the wall, it should not hit resistance.

Why won’t my drill bit go through brick?

It is because the drill is spinning in the wrong direction. If the hammer drill is not perpendicular to the brick wall, the bit fails to go through. 

David D. Hughes
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