Whether you’re adding some frames on your walls, mounting a TV, or securing a closet to your brick wall, you will have to drill into it. This is quite easy when you have a hammer drill, but what if you can’t get your hands on one, or don’t want to waste your money for one-time use. How do you drill into a brick when you don’t have a hammer drill?
Drilling into a brick wall can be done without a hammer drill. You can drill into a brick with a regular drill, but you will need harder bits than the ones you would usually use with your regular drill. It will also take more effort and time.
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When you think about it, people had to drill into brick somehow before the invention of a hammer drill. What that means is that, while it is harder and takes more time, it’s not impossible. You will need some drilling bits that are harder and more durable, and you will have to prevent them from overheating. Keep in mind that you should have safety gear on at all times when drilling holes.
Do you need a hammer drill for a brick?
You can drill most bricks with a normal power drill, but only if you use tungsten carbide masonry drill bits.
It will, however, be harder for you to drill brick with a regular power drill, and it will take more time to drill bigger holes.
If you’re having trouble drilling larger holes, for example, ½”, you can try to predrill using a ¼” hammer bit as a pilot hole.
When you’re using a regular power drill, it is useful to have a few resharpened or new masonry drill bits near. Because you need a special grinding wheel to sharpen tungsten, new bits could be a better option for you.
You can use water to help prevent the bits from becoming damaged due to excessive heat. They can still become blunt, but you can reshape them.
It is also good to have a hand star drill bit, with the diameter somewhere between the main hole and the pilot size if you want to drill into brick without a hammer drill. It is possible that you will need this to hand hammer into the hole, or to break away additional hard material somewhere in the depth of the hole.
How to drill into brick without a hammer drill?
If you want to drill into brick and you don’t have a hammer drill, don’t worry. This step-by-step guide will show you how to drill into your brick and get some good results.
Step 1: Start by marking the center of the holes. This is the first thing you should do when drilling holes into any surface. Remember the saying “measure twice cut once”, because if you drill holes in the wrong place, it can be a disaster.
To mark the center of the holes use a sharp pencil or a pen, and make sure you double-check the position with a tape measure.
Step 2: Fit a sharp tungsten carbide drill bit into your drill. You cannot drill into a brick wall with a normal HSS drill bit, because the tip will become blunt very quickly, even if you use a hammer drill.
A tungsten carbide masonry drill will let you cut into most bricks because it has hard tips that are designed especially for drilling into brick. Because regular drills use a crushing force to cut through hard brick the bits will become blunt when used without hammer action, so it would be a good idea to have a couple of drills with you so you can replace them in case they become blunt.
Step 3: Use a pilot drill. Drilling holes in a brick wall is much easier if you start with a pilot drill because the cutting face of the drill is smaller and needs less force to cut into the brick.
Step 4: If you need larger holes in your wall, increase the hole size in small steps. This will make drilling into brickwork much easier. The downside to this is that you will need a few different diameter drills to get to the hole size that you want.
For best results, use a diamond core drill. They are available in many diameters and are commonly used to drill big holes in brick or concrete for pipework to fit through.
Step 5: Use water to cool down the bits. Since drilling into brick causes a lot of heat, the tips can burn out and become blunt if the heat becomes too high. Use water to reduce temperature and avoid burning out the drill bits too quickly.
You can do this by constantly supplying cold water to the drilling surface using a pipe and water supply. This is the best way to keep the temperature down but it is often not practical, because the wall might be far away from the water supply or difficult to run a pipe to.
Another way you can do it is to regularly remove the drill from the hole and place the tip in the container with water to cool down. This is an easier method but not as effective.
Step 6: Clear dust from the hole. Every drilling job produces dust, so will this one. If you want to make drilling holes easier, you should regularly remove the drill bit from the hole so you can clear the bits of brick and dust. This will make things easier and will help you avoid burning out the drill bit too quickly.
You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a small hose attachment.
If you have some areas that are harder to drill into, tungsten carbide drill bits won’t be enough. You can use a star head drill or cold chisel to drill the hole.
A star drill is a kind of chisel that requires you to hit it with a lump hammer. Put the drill into the hole then hit it a few times with the lump hammer. Then, turn it about 45 degrees and hit it again. This process is quite slow and it can take a while but it works. This method was used before hammer drills were invented.
The best speed for drilling into brick
The speed that you will use to drill into a brick wall will depend on the size of your hole and the type of brickwork that you want to drill.
The drill should usually run as slowly as possible to reduce heat, which is between 300 and 750 rpm.
You should be fairly close to these numbers by setting the trigger on your drill mid-point.
Should you drill into brick or mortar?
The correct answer to whether you should drill into brick or mortar depends on the type and age of the brick, the depth, and diameter of the holes, the type of anchor you use, and the weight you’re placing on the fasteners.
In most cases, the brick will hold better and support more weight than mortar. That being said, if you have an old and brittle brick and you want to mount a heavy object on it, drilling into the brick may not be the best choice. This would require deep holes and expansion-style anchors which weakens the brick and creates enough circular stress to crack the brick.
If you notice that your bricks show signs of cracking or spalling, drill into the mortar instead. You will allow the anchor’s circular expansion forces to push against fully intact bricks.
Another thing to consider is how you will patch and hide the holes if you drill in the wrong spot or remove the item later on. You will be able to patch mortar holes with a tube of mortar repair. It’s way harder to match brick color and texture when you decide that you want to fix those holes.