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How You Can Fix Holes in Brickwork in 7 Easy Steps

Brickwork is appealing because it looks consistent. The tessellation pattern of the bricks, and how they contrast with the colour of the mortar, can really define the facade of a home. 

Unfortunately, this means that damaged sections draw the eye precisely because they break the flow of the pattern. Read on to learn how to fix holes in brickwork so that you can keep your facade up!

What You’ll Need

Before you dive in and start ripping bricks out of your wall, you’ll need to get some tools to help you. These include:

  • Basic protective gear – safety glasses and sturdy gloves at a minimum
  • Bucket and sponge
  • Wire brush
  • Portable vacuum
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pointing trowel
  • Jointer tool
  • Mortar mixing tray
  • Replacement brick (make sure it’s the same size and colour as the other bricks)
  • Replacement mortar (make sure it’s the same colour as the existing mortar)

Once you have all of your equipment ready, you can start fixing the holes in your brickwork.

Step 1: Remove Damaged Brick

Equip your protective gear and remove the damaged brick with the hammer and chisel. To do this, chip away at the brick and remove it in pieces. Remember, the aim isn’t to remove the entire brick in one piece. 

Also take care not to accidentally damage the adjacent bricks. The last thing you want to do is fix one brick, and crack three others in the process!

Once the bulk of the brick is gone, use your chisel to remove any stubborn pieces and make the surfaces of the hole as smooth as possible. Then take your brush and scrape away any debris. Next, using your vacuum, get rid of any brick dust that was too fine for the brush to handle. The last step is to wash out the area with water. 

Step 2: Prepare the Mortar

The general rule for mixing mortar is four parts sand, and one part cement. Then add your water to the centre of the mix and stir it by repeatedly drawing the mixture from the bottom to the top. However, stick to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure quality results. 

Also take care that your mortar isn’t too runny or too dry. If the mortar has the consistency of thick peanut butter, you are on the right track.

Step 3: Apply the Mortar

Once your mortar is ready, take your pointing trowel and spread mortar evenly over the sides and bottom of the hole. Keeping with the peanut butter comparison, do this with a similar motion to how you would spread peanut butter over bread. The layer should be about an inch thick, without any obvious thick or thin spots.

Once you are satisfied with the mortar in the hole, dampen the replacement brick with water and spread mortar on its top and sides. Use the same spreading technique, and ensure that the thickness of the layer is consistent.

Step 4: Fill the Hole with the New Brick

When you put the brick in, mortar should be displaced and run out the further the brick goes in. If this doesn’t happen, you may not have used enough mortar. Also take care to centre the brick in the hole, with a similar width gap on all sides.

When you finish putting the brick in the wall, add more mortar if necessary with the pointing tool until it is flush with the face of the brickwork. You can also use the pointing tool to scrape away any run-off.

Step 5: Joint Tooling

Using your joint tool, scrape mortar out of the joints around the new brick until the depth and shape mirrors that of the existing brickwork. Take your time with this step because it will be really obvious afterwards if the depth of the joints differs from the current pattern.

Step 6: Brush Away the Excess

Once you are happy with it, let the mortar almost dry. Then, using your wire brush, scrape away any mortar that may have splashed onto the face of the bricks. Don’t do this too aggressively, the last thing you want is to accidentally push the new brick off centre. 

Step 7: Curing

By this stage, you should be completely happy with how the repair looks, because curing the brick is essentially ‘setting’ it. Over the course of the next three days, keep the area damp. You can do this by spraying it with a spray bottle. If the area is hit by direct sunlight, consider covering it to limit how often you have to keep spraying it. 

If the mortar sets too quickly, it can be brittle. By allowing it to slowly set over a three day period, it will stay strong. While the laborious part of the repair is over, this step will actually determine the lasting quality of your work, so make sure you continue to do it for the full three days.

Your Brickwork is Fixed, but what Caused the Damage?

So there you have it, you’ve filled the hole in your brickwork! 

But have you questioned why it was there in the first place? Crumbling or cracked bricks can be a sign of spalling. Spalling is a process where years of weather and moisture damage erode the mortar in brick joints, causing the bricks themselves to crumble or crack. 

If this is happening, replacing individual bricks won’t be effective, as the issue is likely causing damage to the entire facade. To prevent or alleviate spalling, professionals such as Period Home Brick Restoration and Construction can repoint your brickwork. Give them a call for a quote today.

Learn more about how to identify when your bricks need repointing.