How to drill into brick without a hammer drill – Step by Step Guide

So, you’ve just scheduled your next home improvement project, and the task involves drilling into brick without a hammer drill.

Well, drilling into concrete without a hammer drill is doable, but the process might be harder and a little bit slower compared to using a hammer drill.

What Are Concrete Bricks Made Of?

A concrete brick consists mainly of sand firmly stuck together. As its significant component is tightly packed sand, drilling a hole through it might take some hard work.

A hammer drill appears to be the best tool for carrying out this job. This type of drill is designed to move forwards and backwards while drilling through bricks, concrete, stones, and related hard surfaces.

What Else Can You Use To Drill Into Brick Besides A Hammer Drill? 

Perhaps you’re asking yourself what else you can use to drill into brick apart from using a hammer drill. When it comes to drilling into brick, most people only consider using a hammer drill, but there are other tools that deliver the same results albeit at a much slower pace.

Sure, hammer drills are special and super durable drills that are best for these situations. However, there are circumstances when these tools are out of reach and the job has to be done anyways.

In this guide, we’ll focus on how to drill into brick without a hammer drill. To drill into brick without a hammer drill, you can use the masonry or concrete drill bits as an alternative option. You can also utilize an impact driver if it’s within your reach.

Do Masonry Drill Bits Really Work?

Yes, masonry drill bits work and are often used alongside a hammer drill. This is where the drill bit uses the turning action to simultaneously hammer the concrete away, clear out the openings and penetrate the brick material.

In our situation, however, we have no hammer drill and we wish to drill into brick without it anyways. Therefore, we need to utilize the turning action of the drill bit to work in our favor and drill into brick.

This is a step-by-step guide on how to drill into brick without a hammer drill. So buckle up, and let’s get going.

Tools & Materials Needed: 

  • Masonry drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Leather work gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Protective eyewear
  • N95 respirator
  • Measuring tape
  • Canned compressed air
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Wall anchor
  • Mop (optional)
  • Shop vacuum (preferably with prefilter)
  • Adequate water

Drilling Into Brick without a Hammer Drill: A Step-By-Step Guide 

  • Step 1 - Get several masonry drill bits with different sizes on hand

It would be best if you had several different-sized masonry drill bits on hand before you get started. A regular drill is not as powerful as a hammer drill in penetrating through the concrete. For this reason, you’re gonna have to begin with smaller masonry drill bits as you work your way up.

  • Step 2 - Measure and mark the locations of the holes

Once you’ve assembled a few quality masonry bits of various sizes, go ahead and mark the holes where you want to drill. You need to keep three things in mind: position of the hole, size of the hole, and depth of the hole to be drilled.

For the purposes of accuracy, it’s best if you use a tape measure and a pencil or a marker to mark the spot on the brick that you intend to drill. You need to measure and mark the hole locations depending on what you wish to use the hole for.

To double-check the hole locations, hold the shelving unit, artwork, TV mounting brackets, or other templates directly over the marks. In so doing, you get to understand how accurate you are with your holes.  

  • Step 3 – Get equipped with your protective gear

Of course, your safety comes first when drilling into brick using any power tool. Put on your leather gloves, safety goggles, N95 respirator, and hearing protection equipment before you get started.

Dust coming from brick and mortar entails an airborne component known as crystalline silica. This can be a health hazard even if you inhale a small amount of it.         

An N95 respirator will be useful during the drilling and cleanup process as it filters up to 95% of airborne particles. These airborne particles can cause serious lung problems like lung scarring.

Also, if your job has to do with using a ladder, choose one with strong steps and make sure the legs are resting on a solid surface. Then be sure to get in a position where you can apply a considerable force to the tool while maintaining great stability.

  • Step 4 – Start drilling slowly using a smaller masonry bit

Position your pilot drill bit perpendicular to the brick wall and set the drill on low speed while holding it with two hands. One of your hands should hold the pistol grip and the other one should clasp the auxiliary handle.

Ensure the drill is level and accurately perpendicular to the wall. If you drill at an angle, you may cause some mounting alignment problems that can greatly affect the hole’s holding power.

Start to drill your brick slowly, without pushing too hard, so the drill bit can do its work. For the start, we recommend using a smaller masonry bit with a sharper tip to penetrate the concrete.

Starting slowly is important because it prevents the drill from getting too hot, which can make it dull or blunt. If your drill has a single speed, then it’s advisable to drill in short bursts to avoid overheating.

  • Step 5 - Have water or lubricant close by

A regular drill isn’t designed for concrete drilling. The drilling action is going to generate a lot of heat due to the friction process of turning round and round against the brick material. That means without the hammering action of a hammer drill, the masonry or concrete drill bit will become too hot too fast.

Excessive friction and heat may eventually cause damage to the drill bit. Thus, you need to protect your masonry drill bit against any possibilities of destruction, so it lasts longer and stronger.

To do this, add water or lubricant to the drill site regularly. Apply it both in the hole and on the drill bit to prevent the device from overheating. Also, make sure to apply water to your drill bit immediately if its motor starts sputtering.

  • Step 6 – Gradually transition to bigger masonry bits

After creating a starter hole or pilot hole on your brick wall, it’s time to transition into larger masonry drill bits. Swab your drill bits and position the drill bit perpendicular to the pilot hole created in the previous step.

Make sure the drill is level and perpendicular to the wall to prevent the mounting alignment issues from coming up later. If necessary, slowly and gradually increase the size of the masonry drill bits to expand the size of the hole. Use these larger bits to re-drill the hole.

How you’re going to use the hole is significant even as you keep transitioning to larger masonry bits. If you’re gonna plant a bolt in the brick to hold something in place, consider the weight of the item, because that will determine the length and size of the hole.

Moreover, the bolt you intend to plant will determine the size and depth of the drill. In general though, start with a smaller drill bit and steadily work your way up until you get the perfect result. This will also make the task easier and quicker for you.

  •  Step 7 – Scour through the blockages

At some point, your masonry bits may refuse to go any deeper or even get stuck before you achieve your proper depth. In that case, you need to first break up any blockages (like stones in the concrete) by smashing them with a nail and a hammer.

Then, firmly hold the handle of the drill with both hands and stand in a solid upward posture. Ensure that your two feet are steadfastly planted onto the ground, and are slightly spread apart to keep things steady should the tool produce any kickback.

Use the index finger of your dominant hand to pull the trigger on the inmost segment of the drill. And then, simultaneously apply a constant amount of pressure to the actual brick with the drill.

This process needs you to use your entire body strength to press the masonry drill bit into the brick as far as you possibly can. Nonetheless, never force your drill bit too hard as you may end up breaking the tool.

  • Step 8 – Constantly lift the drill out of the hole

While drilling into brick without a hammer drill, it’s very important to regularly be lifting the masonry drill bit out of the hole.

You can do this by picking up a bit of speed and moving the drill bit straight back and forth so as to blast any excess dust and debris out of the hole.

By keeping the drill bit spinning and lifting the drill forwards and backwards, you are practically removing excess dust and other material from the hole, thus preventing the flutes of the drill bit from clogging up.

Removing the excess dust and debris from the hole not only clears the flutes but also allows the masonry drill to function more effectively and create minimal friction.

  • Step 9 – Have your wall anchor installed

After drilling a hole or holes through the brick, now is time to slot in the wall anchors that can support the item’s weight. Make sure to properly attach the wall hanging or exterior fixture using robust screws that guarantee longevity.

  • Step 10 – Thoroughly clear any remaining debris out of the work area

This is the final step that involves clearing up any loitering mortar or brick fragments using a broom and a dustpan. Your eye protection and respiratory gear should still be in place while carrying out this job.  

Use a shop vac (one fitted with a pre-filter is highly recommendable) to suck up any lurking dust from your work surface. Alternatively, clean up the floor of your worksite using a mop and rinse it when done.

Once your worksite is clean and clutter-free, take off your shoes outside and blow off the remaining dust with compressed air. Be sure to take a shower and wash your clothes as soon as you’re through to avoid spreading the perilous silica dust all over your house.

Final Though

As you can see, the process of drilling into brick without a hammer drill is one involving a lot of pounding, flushing, drilling, and a bit of cooling.

Although the task might be slower compared to using a hammer drill, the job is perfectly doable in the end. You can use the masonry drill bits to drill into hardened brick materials when a hammer drill is not within easy access.

So, if someone asks you how to drill into brick without a hammer drill, tell them this task can be completed perfectly well even without a hammer drill. Using masonry or concrete drill bits is the most ideal way of drilling through brick walls without a hammer drill.

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