How to Replace a Damaged Brick
This home repair is one that can be attempted if you are repairing one brick or up to four adjoining bricks and the wall you are repairing is not load-bearing. On brick homes, the brick wall is typically a "veneered" brick wall. Veneered means it is a brick skin over wood framing. If that is the case with your home, then the brick wall is not load-bearing and can be repaired. However, if the brick wall is solid brick, then it's load-bearing. For walls that are load-bearing or need more than four contiguous bricks replaced, consult a professional mason.
If that's not the case, then let's see how this repair is performed:
Needed Tools and Materials
- Matching brick(s)
- Mason's cold chisel
- Wire brush
- Power drill and masonry cutting wheel (desired, not required)
- Pointing trowel
- Joint strike tool
- Mortar mix and pigment (if needed to match existing mortar)
- Eye protection
- Leather work gloves
Select the Replacement Brick
Selecting the right replacement brick may sound easy but it's essential to the aesthetic success of the repair and not as easy as it sounds on an older home. Even the standard red bricks can vary by color and size. If you have an old piece of the brick you're replacing take that with you along with the dimensions of the brick face to a brickyard and find an acceptable replacement.
If the brick is very old, you may also try an architectural reclamation company where old reclaimed architectural materials are sold.
OK. Have your replacement brick in the right color and size? Then let's proceed.
Remove the Damaged Brick
To remove one or more damaged bricks proceed with the following steps:
- Put on eye protection and leather gloves.
- Using a cold chisel and heavy hammer break apart the damaged brick piece by piece. If you are removing several bricks, then start at the top and work down.
Note: As an alternative, you may also use a power drill and masonry cutting wheel to score the old bricks before cutting them out with a chisel. If you have these tools handy it makes the work a little shorter but using a drill and cutting wheel is not required.
- Be very careful not to damage surrounding bricks.
- Once the brick pieces are removed, chisel out any old mortar, making the voids as clean as possible.
- Clean the joints of any loose mortar with a wire brush and vacuum the opening clean of any dirt or dust.
- Rinse the cleaned area with water including all four sides of the opening.
Mix Mortar and Prepare Hole to Receive New Brick
Once the damaged brick is removed and the opening cleaned, proceed with the following steps:
- Mix the mortar according to the manufacturer's directions. If the repair is such that matching the existing mortar color is important, you may have to experiment first with mortar pigment to obtain the properly dried mortar coloration.
- Next, use a pointing trowel to "butter" the bottom and both sides of the existing opening with mortar about one inch in thickness.
Prepare and Place the New Brick
Once the hole is ready to receive the new brick we next prepare and place the brick as follows:
- Get the replacement brick slightly wet so it will absorb the mortar.
- Now "butter" the brick by applying mortar to the top and both sides of the brick.
- OK, here's the fun part. Now slide the brick into the opening. Mortar should ooze out slightly as the brick is being pushed into the wall. Tap into place until it is flush with the existing bricks. Often the brick is tapped into place with the base of the pointing trowel.
- Once the brick is in place, make sure the mortar is full to the face of the brick by adding more with the pointing tool if necessary.
- Remove excess mortar by scraping it away with the side of the pointing trowel.
- Tool the mortar joints with the joint strike tool so the mortar joint matches the adjacent mortar joints.
- Once the mortar is almost dry, use a wire brush and gently brush away leftover mortar.
Keep the Brick and Mortar Repair Damp
This last step is very important. Keeping the repair damp allows the mortar to cure properly.
- Spray the new repair lightly with water to aid in the proper curing of the mortar.
- Keep the area misted with water for three days.
- Cover the area with a plastic sheet if desired to help retain moisture.