How to Drill Through Brick
LESLIE: Stacy in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
STACY: What I wanted to find out was I have a brick wall on my fireplace. It’s like the whole wall is brick and then the fireplace is underneath. And I’d like to put up a mantle or a mantle shelf but the last time I tried drilling into it just to put a cloth over it I found that I couldn’t do it with any real – any good results, to tell you the truth. I tried drilling into the brick and I also tried drilling into the mortar and I had a mortar bit on the drill but it still doesn’t seem to work very well. Do I have any other options besides drilling a hole?
LESLIE: Yeah, a Tapcon, which is also drilling a hole but it’s a special bit that’s made specifically for drilling in stone or brick and you do want to go into the brick, not the mortar, because you’re going to get the best area to really hold onto things into the brick itself. And a Tapcon, it’s a special bit with the drill itself on one end and then the sheath slides over it and then there’s an attachment for the special screws at the other end of that. So it’s like a whole little kit you have to buy but it’s not terribly expensive. It is a bit of a struggle to keep drilling a lot of holes in brick because I’ve done some work in brick fireplaces beforehand and sometime…
TOM: Yeah, unless you have the right tool.
LESLIE: Yeah, like a hammer drill is going to help you tremendously. It’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a workout but it’s going to do the job a lot more efficiently. And then you’ll find also that sometimes with the Tapcons, you might find that they spin a little bit in the brick. If you see that happening, I usually take a piece of wire, like double the length or the depth of that hole and fold it in half and put that in there and then as I drill the Tapcon in through the piece of wood – whatever it is that I’m working on – it sort of helps to bind it into the metal. It grips almost like an anchor and helps that Tapcon really get it in place.
Now, you probably want to – I mean are you building a shelf or building this mantle or are you looking to buy something and sort of attach that?
STACY: Yeah, I was just really thinking of maybe a three-foot mantle shelf, really, that wouldn’t be holding anything that’s too heavy. So I was wondering if I could use something like putties or any kind of adhesive actually instead of actually drilling in.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You know, if it’s a shelf like that, I would be uncomfortable with you using any type of epoxy or putty. I would like to see you have some sort of mechanical connection. I know you’re struggling with that masonry drill bit. Why don’t you look around and maybe you could find somebody that has a hammer drill. If you had a hammer drill –
LESLIE: It would be so easy.
TOM: – which looks like a regular drill except that what happens is it vibrates and it sort of taps the drill bit in as it’s spinning …
TOM: … and it will cut through that mortar like it’s butter. You’ll be amazed.
LESLIE: And you know who has interesting shelves that you could use as a mantle shelf that are of a floating capacity – you know, they have a hidden bracket that you would attach to the brick and then the shelf slides over it – is IKEA.
TOM: (overlapping voices) IKEA. Yeah.
LESLIE: They have some really nice ones in either painted finishes or wood stain looks that are kind of modern but would look really nice and simple with a brick fireplace. It might really compliment it nicely and, you know, with the right attachment and the hammer drill you’d be totally able to put that up.
STACY: OK, so the hammer drill sounds like the way to go because what I was wondering is – I just have one of those all-purpose skill drills; you know, not a contractor or a professional model. So I always thought that maybe I just didn’t have the power.
LESLIE: Is it nine volts?
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ll never get through the stone with that.
TOM: Oh, is it battery-powered?
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ll never get through.
TOM: Oh, not going to happen. No, that’s – well, if you had a 120-volt drill or a really good battery-powered drill you’d have a good chance. But if you really want to get through that easy, get a hammer drill.
STACY: I’ll rent one of those. That sounds great.
TOM: Yeah, it shouldn’t cost too much.