Should You Drill into Mortar or Brick

Should You Drill into Mortar or Brick? A Guide for DIYers

A brick wall is generally made from two components - bricks and mortar. The mortar is a glue-like material used to stick the bricks together. It is softer than brick, but it is also prone to damage. So, you might be wondering what this means for the drilling and whether you should drill into mortar or brick. No worries - I have the perfect guide for you!

Today, I will cover the pros and cons of drilling into mortar and brick, along with some tips and the factors you must consider when deciding where and what to drill into. If you want to learn more on the topic, stick around for the rest of the guide!

Pros and Cons of Drilling into Mortar

Mortar is a concoction made of a binding material and fine aggregates like sand, sawdust, or other material. If you want to avoid drilling brick and are wondering whether you can drill holes into the mortar, here are a few of the things you must consider:


Mortar is a soft material you can drill into with any drill, which makes it the complete opposite of brick. Mortar holes are usually smaller in diameter and depth, but it is more likely to make small and deep holes than large ones.

Another reason why you should consider drilling into mortar is because it is easier to patch. A mortar patch can be made by mixing new or buying pre-made mortar. Mortar repair usually takes only a few short minutes, but it is unnoticeable and blends in well with the rest of the mortar.


The biggest downside of mortar is its softness, which means that drilling into it can cause it to crumple and deteriorate. Furthermore, you cannot make bigger holes, which is not the case with brick, where you can choose your own drilling depth and diameter.

Finally, I do not recommend drilling into the mortar if you want to hang something heavier. Mortar is only suitable for lightweight things that do not weigh more than four pounds. So, keep that in mind when deciding whether you want to drill into brick or mortar.

Pros and Cons of Drilling into Brick

Brick walls look amazingly well with accessories like pictures or hanging plants. But to achieve that look, one must drill into brick - that is, of course, without cracking it. If the brick chips, you could be in a world of trouble. That said, here are the Why and Why Not's of drilling brick:


The main reason you would try drilling into brick is that this sturdier material can withstand heavier weight. If drilled properly, you can add an anchor and a nail to hang up to 100 pounds. Bricks are also generally larger, so you will have enough space to manipulate and choose where exactly you want to drill. You can make small and large holes, shallow or deep holes - it is up to you!


Still, there are a few cons of drilling into brick. First, when you try to penetrate brick, you must hold the power drill at the right angle, use the right drill bit, drill only into new brick, or drill into concrete or burnt clay bricks. You might damage the brick beyond repair if you do not pay attention to how and where you are drilling.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Drill into Mortar or Brick

milwakie drill

When you want to drill brick, you must take a few things into consideration, including the type of hole you need to make, the type of brick you will be drilling into, the anchor type, the state of the brick wall, and most importantly - the weight of the item you need to hang. Here is more information on each of these deciding factors:

Hole Diameter and Depth

As mentioned before, mortar is only suitable for smaller holes. You cannot make a hole larger in diameter than the mortar joint, as it will be impossible to drill that way. You must always stick to a drill bit of the desired depth and diameter. If making such holes in the mortar is impossible, you might need to do it in brick.

Brick Type

There is more than one brick type, and not all are suitable for drilling. The best bricks for drilling are concrete and burnt clay bricks, as they are the sturdiest and can withstand the force with which a hammer drill or rotary hammer drill functions. You can also use a regular drill, but you must be careful when drilling into hard surfaces.

The other two brick types include fire brick and sun-dried brick. With these, you could notice cracks as soon as you start drilling. That would compromise the entire wall, so I don't recommend using them.

State of the Brick

If you have old bricks in the wall that have been there for decades, if not even longer, you should put off the drilling. That is because the pressure and speed of regular or hammering drills are too much for fragile bricks. Not only are they not as tough as the new ones, but they could also be of deteriorating quality and prone to damage.

Anchor Type

There are also several wall anchor types you could choose between. There are expansion anchors, concrete, plastic, or self-tapping anchors. You should check the type of anchor suitable for your type of brick or mortar while also being careful with the diameter and depth of the anchor. It should perfectly fit the nail or screw you plan to use.

Item Weight

A final but crucial thing is to consider the weight of the item you want to hang. Depending on how much weight you want to hang, you can choose between drilling into brick or mortar. Mortar can only hold items weighing up to 4 pounds, whereas bricks can hold up to 80 or 100 pounds.

Tips for Drilling into Mortar or Brick

Dewalt Drill

Before drilling, you should know more about the process to avoid drilling incorrectly. Here is how the drilling should go:

Put on Protective Gear

First things first - you must use protective gear. You do not want parts of the brick flying into your eyes or the dust going into your lungs as you inhale while drilling. You must wear safety glasses, a dust mask, earmuffs, and gloves. Furthermore, your clothes must be tight so the extra fabric does not get in the way. Finally, keep your hair out of the way and remove all jewelry.

Prepare the Drill

Next, you need to choose the right drilling equipment. You can choose a regular drill if you want to make small holes. If you want to make a larger hole, go for the hammer drill or rotary hammer drill.

As for the drill bit, brick drilling calls for a tungsten carbide-tipped masonry bit that is brand new. You should not be using a dull drill bit. The drill bit should be the right size for the desired drilling holes, but if it is longer, you can use a depth gauge. The diameter must always be the same with the anchor or masonry screws.

Make a Pilot Hole

The pilot hole is a small guiding hole you can use to guide your drill. You make it using a small nail or center punch right where you want to drill the hole.

Drill the Hole

Finally, you are ready to start the drilling process. You must keep the drill perpendicular to the wall while also starting at a slow speed. You can increase the speed and pressure as you go but never exceed medium pressure. Using as much pressure as the drill offers could cause damage to the wall.

At the same time, try not to hit any electrical wires or pipes in the wall. Avoid tough material as it can damage the drill bit too. Consider using a drill stand if you cannot keep your hand steady.

Hang Your Items

Now you are ready to hang your items, but only after adding the expansion-style anchors and screws to the new drill hole. If you change your mind and want to make another hole instead, you can try filling holes with mortar and making new ones.


Thank you for reading this detailed guide on drilling into brick and mortar. I hope you learned a lot of valuable information and now know whether to drill into brick or mortar when you want to hang something on the wall. You could hang them on the mortar if you only need some light exterior lighting. If you want to hang a whole TV, your only option is the brick.

If you have any experience with mortar or brick drilling, please let me know in the comments. The other readers and I appreciate your tips and tricks, and we would love to know your drill and drill bit recommendations as well.

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