What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls?

What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls
Deterioration/Age of Building Materials – Building materials have a set lifespan. For extremely old homes, the age of the house may cause the materials to slowly deteriorate. In time, walls sag and the mortar loosens to cause brick cracks, Also, the constantly long years of exposure to the elements detrimentally impact the condition of the building materials,

When should I be concerned about cracks in a brick wall?

Are Cracks in Brick Normal? The Pros Explain How to Tell Cracks in brick aren’t normal and shouldn’t be accepted as “par for the course” if you own a brick home in Alabama. Cracks in your home’s brick exterior, retaining walls, or any other wall can signal that something’s wrong with the home’s foundation—hands down the most important, though rarely seen, part of your house.

Here we explain why bricks crack and what different types of brick cracking can mean. Brick is a porous—but strong—building material that naturally expands and contracts over time. Temperature and moisture (humidity) impact the rate of expansion and contraction. The location of the brick (like exposure to direct sunlight), and the integrity of surrounding building materials also play a role.

Bricks begin to crack when they either don’t have enough room to “do their thang,” or uneven pressure is applied from an outside force. At Alabama Foundation Repairs and Home Improvement, we customize our repair to match your needs. Every home and homeowner is unique and is treated as such! What follows is a brief overview of what your brick crack could signal and the potential repair.

Stair-step cracks are appropriately named and are the most common type of brick crack cited by homeowners. A stair-step crack is a diagonal, right-angle crack that travels through the mortar surrounding the brick since mortar is not as strong as brick. The resulting crack looks like a staircase going up and down.

A stair-step crack will usually point to the area of the foundation that is sinking or settling. Stair-step cracks in brick are often due to uneven, moisture-related settling of the foundation. Below are two examples of stair-step cracks around the window sill of a home’s exterior in Alabama. What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls Stair-step brick cracks on the exterior of a home, pointing to moisture-related foundation settling. Horizontal cracks can result from a combination of factors, some foundation related and some not. A horizontal crack can emerge because:

Dirt or wind is pushing against the brick wall. Moisture is running rampant from clogged gutters or unresolved flood damage. The soil underneath the foundation is weak.

Are you seeing horizontal cracking low on one of your foundation walls in the crawlspace or basement? If so, please call immediately. The soil pressure may be causing the foundation to buckle and a horizontal crack may signal a looming collapse. Horizontal brick cracks indicate that a wall may soon give way.

  • Vertical cracks in a brick home’s exterior can be an,
  • Vertical cracks will vary depending on your foundation material (basement, crawlspace, concrete slab-on-grade, etc.).
  • Small, thin vertical brick cracks can show up right after a home has been built and can be traced back to some initial foundation settlement.

Though usually minor, these cracks should still be examined by a professional. Wide vertical brick cracks, on the other hand, are serious indicators of a foundation problem. Wide brick cracks will often vary in width from one end to the other. What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls Let’s say you have an exposed brick wall inside your home. It looks beautiful, stylish, and oh-so farmhouse chic until you notice a vertical crack in one of the inside corners of the wall. Yikes. Vertical cracking is typically due to brick expansion (remember, bricks are porous and absorb/release moisture like a sponge).

  1. Bricks can grow in size as they are exposed to humidity.
  2. As bricks grow, they can cause cracking at the seams of walls.
  3. In Alabama, vertical cracking in an interior wall usually isn’t an,
  4. Instead, it means that the builder didn’t leave enough space between the bricks to allow for thermal expansion.
  5. Cracks in brick are not normal and are not something you want to patch up on your own.

A quick layer of plaster won’t fix the underlying issue. Alabama Foundations can help diagnose the cause of cracks in your home’s brickwork, and if needed, provide you with an affordable solution. We repair cracked brick for good. : Are Cracks in Brick Normal? The Pros Explain How to Tell

Are cracks in brick walls normal?

What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls WiP-Studio / Shutterstock.com Brick buildings give a presence of sturdy structures. With many homeowners embracing the “exposed brick” look on their homes, there are bound to experience some problems. Brick cracks are a common issue for brick walls. While this problem doesn’t always indicate serious structural damage, cracked brickwork can make your home prone to water damages and mould.

Does cracks in brick mean foundation problems?

Noticing Cracked Bricks on Your House? Cracked bricks on a house are the most common sign of foundation settlement. If a house has stair-stepped cracks in the exterior brick, it is likely that the footing has broken and is settling. But just because there are cracks, does not guarantee that the house is settling.

How do you tell if a crack in a wall is serious?

What direction does the crack run? – Vertical cracks are usually less serious than their horizontal counterparts because they run in the same direction as your home’s drywall. They often form as your house settles, and unless they start on a ceiling and continue down into the wall in a straight line, you don’t need to be too concerned.

What is the life expectancy of a brick wall?

Masonry is one of the most durable components of a home. Chimneys, fireplaces, and brick veneers can last a lifetime, and brick walls have an average life expectancy of more than 100 years.

Why are my walls suddenly cracking?

Sometimes, it can feel like the list of home improvements, DIY jobs and general sprucing up tasks that need to be completed in your home is only getting longer. Things break over time or from overuse and certain objects or appliances may need upgrading or replacing.

  1. But when you spy a crack in a wall or ceiling, you may instantly panic.
  2. Luckily, most cracks are completely normal in all sorts of houses, even new builds, and are simply a sign that the house is settling.
  3. Other causes of cracks include change in temperature or humidity levels and vibrations from traffic if you live near a busy or fast road.

Some cracks can be longer and deeper than others, but when should a crack start to worry you? Read on to find out.

Do cracked bricks need to be replaced?

Download Article Download Article Good brickwork can definitely stand the test of time, but bricks aren’t impervious to damage. Once a brick splits, cracks, or flakes, go ahead and replace it to prevent moisture seepage or structural issues. If you want to do the job yourself instead of calling a professional brick mason, check below for a helpful step-by-step guide.

  • After removing the old brick and mortar, either clean cosmetic damage on old bricks so they can be reused or use old bricks to find the correct size and shape for replacement bricks.
  • Trowel the bottom layer of the new brick’s hole and in thinner layers, trowel the left and right sides of the hole.
  • After applying a thick layer of mortar on the top and sides of the replacement brick, insert the brick at an angle and scrape away excess mortar.
  1. 1 Drill a series of holes into the mortar all the way around the bad brick. This method takes a bit more time than using an angle grinder, but is easier for the average DIYer. Use a masonry bit and drill into the mortar as deep as the bit allows. Drill the holes as close together as possible to break up the mortar and free the brick.
    • Drill into the mortar closer to the bad brick than to the good surrounding bricks. Otherwise, you may damage them.
    • Squirt or spray water onto the area before you start drilling, and frequently while drilling, to reduce the amount of masonry dust.
  2. 2 Cut into the mortar with an angle grinder instead of using a drill. This is a faster alternative to drilling, but carries a higher risk of damaging the surrounding bricks. Put a masonry blade on your angle grinder, then cut straight into the mortar with the spinning blade, all the way around the damaged brick.
    • Just like when using a drill, spray or squirt water over the work area before you start and every so often during the process.

    Advertisement

  3. 3 Try to jiggle the brick free once you’ve broken up the mortar. If the brick is already really loose or broken in multiple pieces, it’ll probably come out fairly easily by hand. If the brick won’t come out this way, move on to using a chisel or drill to get it out.
  4. 4 Knock through any stubborn mortar with a chisel to loosen the brick. Hold the wide, beveled blade of your bolster chisel against the mortar and smack the flat tip of the handle firmly with your lump hammer (small sledgehammer). Keep chipping away at the mortar until the brick is loose enough to remove by hand.
    • A bolster chisel has a wider blade than a cold chisel. Both chisels, along with a lump hammer, are essential tools for any brick removal job.
  5. 5 Drill through and break up the brick if it refuses to come out. Even when damaged, some bricks really don’t want to leave their spot! If you can’t pull or chisel out the entire brick, use a masonry bit to drill a series of vertical holes in the brick’s center. Hit the brick with your lump hammer alone, or with your hammer and cold chisel, to break it into pieces. Remove the broken pieces of brick from the wall.
  6. 6 Chip away the mortar around the brick’s former location with a chisel. Set the blade of your bolster chisel or cold chisel against a section of the remaining mortar and lightly tap the handle with your lump hammer. Strike only as firmly as is needed to break free the mortar. Work carefully so you don’t damage the surrounding bricks. Try to get every bit of mortar you can.
    • Use your fingers and a hand brush to sweep all the mortar chips and other dust and debris out of the opening.
  7. Advertisement

  1. 1 Use the removed brick to find a color and size match. If the damaged brick came out in one piece, use it to find a color, style, and size match. If you only have broken pieces, use those for a color match but also write down the length, width, and height measurements of one of the remaining bricks in the wall.
    • If there are manufacturer markings on the brick, you may be able to track down a perfect match. Otherwise, aim to get the closest match you can find.
    • Look around in a basement, garage, shed, etc. for any spare bricks left behind from when the wall was built. You may be in luck!
  2. 2 Consider reusing the removed brick if it has only superficial damage. If the face of the removed brick is just stained or marred, or even if it has only small cracks or light spalling (flaking), you should be able to simply flip it around and reuse it! So long as the brick still looks and feels structurally sound and solid, it’ll be fine to reuse.
    • To reuse the brick, though, you’ll have to carefully chip away all the remaining mortar that’s stuck to it.
  3. 3 Soak the replacement (or reused) brick in water for about an hour. Fill a bucket about halfway with water and then fully submerge the mortar-free replacement brick (or salvaged brick from the wall) in it. Soaking the brick ensures that it doesn’t suck up the moisture from the mortar and dry it out too quickly.
  4. 4 Mix up about 1/10 to 1/5 of a bag of brick mortar mix. A typical 80 lb (36 kg) bag of brick mortar mix, when combined with water, makes enough mortar for about 40 bricks. That means you only need to mix up about 10-20% of the bag’s contents to install one brick and have some extra mortar if needed.
    • Start using this batch of mortar within 30 minutes of mixing it.
    • If you want to more closely match the existing brick mortar, stir in a few drops of mortar coloring (available alongside mortar mixes) according to the package instructions.
    • To get an even more precise color match, mix up several very small batches of mortar with varying amounts of mortar coloring in them 24 hours beforehand. Apply the mortar samples to cardboard and compare the colors when they dry.
  5. Advertisement

  1. 1 Wet the surrounding bricks first so they suck up less mortar moisture. Spray all the existing bricks that will be adjacent to the new brick with a hose or a spray bottle until they are completely damp. Otherwise, they’ll leech out the water from the new mortar too quickly, which makes it brittle.
  2. 2 Trowel a thick layer of mortar on the bottom of the opening in the wall. Scoop up a nice glob of mortar from the bucket with your pointed trowel, then deposit it on top of the brick or bricks that are directly below where the replacement brick will go. Add more mortar as needed and spread it out like cake frosting so you have around a 1 in (2.5 cm) layer of mortar.
    • Don’t worry about making the mortar look nice and neat here—just make sure to create a nice thick bed for the new brick to squish down onto.
  3. 3 Spread thinner, fairly even mortar layers onto the left and right sides. Once you’ve added a thick bed of mortar to the bottom of the opening, scoop up some more mortar and press it against the bricks to each side. Aim to make the mortar around 1 ⁄ 2 –1 in (1.3–2.5 cm) thick on the sides.
    • Some of the mortar will fall off—don’t worry about that. Just try to get an even layer with full coverage.
  4. 4 Pull the new brick from the water and “butter” its top and sides. Hold the brick on the bottom with one hand and use your pointed trowel to add a good 1 in (2.5 cm) layer of mortar to the top of the brick. Then add 1 ⁄ 2 –1 in (1.3–2.5 cm) layers to the two sides that will be embedded in the wall.
    • This is called “buttering” the brick—just like your morning toast!
  5. Advertisement

  1. 1 Insert the brick at an angle and wiggle it into place with your fingers. Line up the brick with the opening, then tilt the face (the side pointed towards you) slightly downward. Slide the brick into the opening and lift the face side to level the brick.
    • Line up the new brick as perfectly as you can while the new mortar is still soft.
  2. 2 Use a trowel, with or without a brick jointer, to press in more mortar. If you don’t have a brick jointer, load up mortar along one side of your pointed trowel and press into each joint around the new brick. This process is faster and neater if you have a brick jointer—a tool that looks like a straight or angled rod. In this case, use the jointer to slide mortar off of the trowel and into the joints. Keep pressing mortar into the joints until they simply won’t take any more.
  3. 3 Use a trowel handle or jointer to tidy up and shape the mortar joints. Most brick walls have concave—inward dipping—mortar joints. Assuming this is the case, slide the rounded handle tip of your trowel, or the concave edge of your brick jointer, along each mortar joint so they match the concave look of the existing joints.
    • If the wall has flat mortar joints, skip this part.
  4. 4 Scrape away the excess mortar on the bricks with a trowel blade. Work carefully so you don’t mess up the nice concave (or flat) joints you made in the mortar between the bricks. Make short, quick scrapes across the face of each brick in the area to remove the excess mortar.
    • Use a damp rag to wipe away any remaining bits of mortar on the bricks.
  5. Advertisement

Add New Question

  • Question How many bricks can you safely remove at one time? If I need to replace six bricks in one spot can I take them all out at once or should I replace one at a time? At one end of the course of bricks, take out two bricks. Then replace one brick with new mortar. Once set, take out the next brick, maintaining a gap of only one brick.
  • Question The damaged brick I want to replace is London Stock. What should the pointing be made up of? Don’t use cement-based mortar, it is too hard. Use lime mortar – level 3 hardness for outside, but level 2 is okay for inside.

Ask a Question 200 characters left Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Submit Advertisement

While not absolutely necessary, consider spraying the repaired area with water a couple of times a day for 3 or 4 days. This will help the mortar to cure more slowly and adhere better to the bricks.

Advertisement

  • While replacing one brick is often a manageable DIY job, replacing multiple, contiguous bricks is usually best left to the pros. Attempting a complicated DIY masonry job that you’re not experienced enough for, then having to hire a mason to fix your mess, will cost you more money in the long run.
  • Always wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and work gloves when doing brickwork.

Advertisement

  • Protective eyewear
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Drill with masonry bit
  • Spray bottle
  • Water and mixing buckets
  • Bolster chisel
  • Cold chisel
  • Lump hammer
  • Pointed trowel
  • Brick jointer
  • Mortar mix
  • Mortar coloring (optional)
  • Angle grinder (optional)

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 136,820 times.

How much does it cost to repair a cracked brick wall?

Averages Across The Board – The cost of a masonry repair will vary, sometimes significantly, based upon the specific task that you need to have completed. Patching some cracks in brick will naturally cost less than fully redoing an entire stone porch, for example.

Is cracked brickwork covered by insurance?

Your home insurance may cover the cost of repairing cracked walls, if the cracks were caused by an event that you are insured for. For example, if a broken pipe caused flooding, which ultimately lead to cracks in the walls, your home insurance would likely cover the cost of repairs.

Do cracks in walls always mean foundation problems?

Is Your Wall Crack Caused By A Foundation Problem? – Wall cracks are usually a sign of foundation movement but they don’t necessarily mean there’s structural damage. In other words, a foundation can move slightly and cause a wall crack, but that doesn’t mean there’s any structural damage requiring a foundation repair. Of course, a wall crack can also be a sign of structural damage. This structural damage might have been caused by expansive soil, vibration, drainage problems, seismic activity, a severe wind storm, or something else. Cracks caused by structural damage are almost always more noticeable.

Vertical wall cracksHorizontal wall cracksStairstep cracks in brickBowed wall with cracksCracks in stuccoBasement wall cracksA crack caused by a wall that’s separating from the ceiling or floor

Is it normal for walls to crack over time?

Find out what’s causing those unsightly squiggly lines that have marred your paint job—and learn how to remedy the situation. – What Causes Cracks In Brick Walls Photo: istockphoto.com Q: I recently noticed a few cracks in our living room wall. I’m not sure if they’ve been there for a while and I just missed them, or if they’re new. Are cracks in the walls easy-fix cosmetic problems—or signs of a structural issue that will need extensive repairs? A: Wall cracks are fairly common in both new and older homes and are often the result of normal house “settling” that can quickly, inexpensively be remedied by re-taping the joints—the seams where the drywall panels meet.

Can a house collapse from cracks?

Imagine coming home from the grocery store and while you are pulling into the driveway you notice a crack in your home exterior wall. After you put your groceries away, you head back outside to check. The first question that comes to mind is, can a house collapse from foundation issues? The answer is yes, however, it is also not that simple. Major foundation damage

Is a brick wall always load bearing?

An Important Distinction – The first distinction that needs to be made is whether the brick masonry is load bearing or non-load bearing. All brick walls are one of the two. Load bearing walls are an integral part of the building structure. They carry the weight of the building and as such need to comply with regulations to make sure they keep it up.

  1. Most load bearing walls are on the exterior but are less common these days as there are now easier, more economical ways of providing the load bearing part of a structure.
  2. Non-load bearing walls only need to support themselves and the weight of whatever cladding is on them.
  3. They are not required to carry the weight of the structure.

These are often used as partition walls to divide the rooms of the building and can be demolished without causing any structural damage. Equally, as per the point above, you could have a non-load bearing wall on the exterior if the structure is supported by an interior wall or veneer.

When should you replace bricks?

#2. Is the Brick Damaged Beyond Repair? – Bricks that are badly worn and crumbling at a significant depth may need to be completely replaced.

What’s worse vertical or horizontal cracks?

Why do the cracks form differently, and is one worse than the other? The simple answer is yes. Vertical cracks are usually the direct result of foundation settling, and these are the more common of foundation issues. Horizontal cracks are generally caused by soil pressure and are normally worse than vertical cracks.

What do settlement cracks look like?

Settlement cracks in walls can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal and in floors they aren’t necessarily straight. They can vary in width but, if crack widths are less than 2mm wide, they are unlikely to affect the structural stability of your home.

How can you tell if a brick wall is structural?

Load-Bearing Wall Checklist – Here is a checklist to tell if the wall you want to take down is load bearing: Grab your blueprints — A great place to start is by digging out the original blueprints if they’re available. The original blueprints for the home will tell you which walls are load bearing and which ones are not.

  • If a wall is marked as “S” in the blueprint, this means “structural,” thus showing it’s a load-bearing wall.
  • Check your ceiling — Take a look at your ceiling to identify any load-bearing beams that run across the house.
  • Any walls beneath these beams are probably also load bearing.
  • If there is no load-bearing beam below the wall you are considering getting rid of, it’s most likely not load bearing.

Assess your basement — Look in your basement or crawl space for steel beams or joists. If you do spot joists in your basement and there is a wall that runs perpendicular, this wall is most likely load bearing. If the wall is parallel above the joists, it’s most likely not a load-bearing wall.

Do cracked bricks need to be replaced?

Download Article Download Article Good brickwork can definitely stand the test of time, but bricks aren’t impervious to damage. Once a brick splits, cracks, or flakes, go ahead and replace it to prevent moisture seepage or structural issues. If you want to do the job yourself instead of calling a professional brick mason, check below for a helpful step-by-step guide.

  • After removing the old brick and mortar, either clean cosmetic damage on old bricks so they can be reused or use old bricks to find the correct size and shape for replacement bricks.
  • Trowel the bottom layer of the new brick’s hole and in thinner layers, trowel the left and right sides of the hole.
  • After applying a thick layer of mortar on the top and sides of the replacement brick, insert the brick at an angle and scrape away excess mortar.
  1. 1 Drill a series of holes into the mortar all the way around the bad brick. This method takes a bit more time than using an angle grinder, but is easier for the average DIYer. Use a masonry bit and drill into the mortar as deep as the bit allows. Drill the holes as close together as possible to break up the mortar and free the brick.
    • Drill into the mortar closer to the bad brick than to the good surrounding bricks. Otherwise, you may damage them.
    • Squirt or spray water onto the area before you start drilling, and frequently while drilling, to reduce the amount of masonry dust.
  2. 2 Cut into the mortar with an angle grinder instead of using a drill. This is a faster alternative to drilling, but carries a higher risk of damaging the surrounding bricks. Put a masonry blade on your angle grinder, then cut straight into the mortar with the spinning blade, all the way around the damaged brick.
    • Just like when using a drill, spray or squirt water over the work area before you start and every so often during the process.

    Advertisement

  3. 3 Try to jiggle the brick free once you’ve broken up the mortar. If the brick is already really loose or broken in multiple pieces, it’ll probably come out fairly easily by hand. If the brick won’t come out this way, move on to using a chisel or drill to get it out.
  4. 4 Knock through any stubborn mortar with a chisel to loosen the brick. Hold the wide, beveled blade of your bolster chisel against the mortar and smack the flat tip of the handle firmly with your lump hammer (small sledgehammer). Keep chipping away at the mortar until the brick is loose enough to remove by hand.
    • A bolster chisel has a wider blade than a cold chisel. Both chisels, along with a lump hammer, are essential tools for any brick removal job.
  5. 5 Drill through and break up the brick if it refuses to come out. Even when damaged, some bricks really don’t want to leave their spot! If you can’t pull or chisel out the entire brick, use a masonry bit to drill a series of vertical holes in the brick’s center. Hit the brick with your lump hammer alone, or with your hammer and cold chisel, to break it into pieces. Remove the broken pieces of brick from the wall.
  6. 6 Chip away the mortar around the brick’s former location with a chisel. Set the blade of your bolster chisel or cold chisel against a section of the remaining mortar and lightly tap the handle with your lump hammer. Strike only as firmly as is needed to break free the mortar. Work carefully so you don’t damage the surrounding bricks. Try to get every bit of mortar you can.
    • Use your fingers and a hand brush to sweep all the mortar chips and other dust and debris out of the opening.
  7. Advertisement

  1. 1 Use the removed brick to find a color and size match. If the damaged brick came out in one piece, use it to find a color, style, and size match. If you only have broken pieces, use those for a color match but also write down the length, width, and height measurements of one of the remaining bricks in the wall.
    • If there are manufacturer markings on the brick, you may be able to track down a perfect match. Otherwise, aim to get the closest match you can find.
    • Look around in a basement, garage, shed, etc. for any spare bricks left behind from when the wall was built. You may be in luck!
  2. 2 Consider reusing the removed brick if it has only superficial damage. If the face of the removed brick is just stained or marred, or even if it has only small cracks or light spalling (flaking), you should be able to simply flip it around and reuse it! So long as the brick still looks and feels structurally sound and solid, it’ll be fine to reuse.
    • To reuse the brick, though, you’ll have to carefully chip away all the remaining mortar that’s stuck to it.
  3. 3 Soak the replacement (or reused) brick in water for about an hour. Fill a bucket about halfway with water and then fully submerge the mortar-free replacement brick (or salvaged brick from the wall) in it. Soaking the brick ensures that it doesn’t suck up the moisture from the mortar and dry it out too quickly.
  4. 4 Mix up about 1/10 to 1/5 of a bag of brick mortar mix. A typical 80 lb (36 kg) bag of brick mortar mix, when combined with water, makes enough mortar for about 40 bricks. That means you only need to mix up about 10-20% of the bag’s contents to install one brick and have some extra mortar if needed.
    • Start using this batch of mortar within 30 minutes of mixing it.
    • If you want to more closely match the existing brick mortar, stir in a few drops of mortar coloring (available alongside mortar mixes) according to the package instructions.
    • To get an even more precise color match, mix up several very small batches of mortar with varying amounts of mortar coloring in them 24 hours beforehand. Apply the mortar samples to cardboard and compare the colors when they dry.
  5. Advertisement

  1. 1 Wet the surrounding bricks first so they suck up less mortar moisture. Spray all the existing bricks that will be adjacent to the new brick with a hose or a spray bottle until they are completely damp. Otherwise, they’ll leech out the water from the new mortar too quickly, which makes it brittle.
  2. 2 Trowel a thick layer of mortar on the bottom of the opening in the wall. Scoop up a nice glob of mortar from the bucket with your pointed trowel, then deposit it on top of the brick or bricks that are directly below where the replacement brick will go. Add more mortar as needed and spread it out like cake frosting so you have around a 1 in (2.5 cm) layer of mortar.
    • Don’t worry about making the mortar look nice and neat here—just make sure to create a nice thick bed for the new brick to squish down onto.
  3. 3 Spread thinner, fairly even mortar layers onto the left and right sides. Once you’ve added a thick bed of mortar to the bottom of the opening, scoop up some more mortar and press it against the bricks to each side. Aim to make the mortar around 1 ⁄ 2 –1 in (1.3–2.5 cm) thick on the sides.
    • Some of the mortar will fall off—don’t worry about that. Just try to get an even layer with full coverage.
  4. 4 Pull the new brick from the water and “butter” its top and sides. Hold the brick on the bottom with one hand and use your pointed trowel to add a good 1 in (2.5 cm) layer of mortar to the top of the brick. Then add 1 ⁄ 2 –1 in (1.3–2.5 cm) layers to the two sides that will be embedded in the wall.
    • This is called “buttering” the brick—just like your morning toast!
  5. Advertisement

  1. 1 Insert the brick at an angle and wiggle it into place with your fingers. Line up the brick with the opening, then tilt the face (the side pointed towards you) slightly downward. Slide the brick into the opening and lift the face side to level the brick.
    • Line up the new brick as perfectly as you can while the new mortar is still soft.
  2. 2 Use a trowel, with or without a brick jointer, to press in more mortar. If you don’t have a brick jointer, load up mortar along one side of your pointed trowel and press into each joint around the new brick. This process is faster and neater if you have a brick jointer—a tool that looks like a straight or angled rod. In this case, use the jointer to slide mortar off of the trowel and into the joints. Keep pressing mortar into the joints until they simply won’t take any more.
  3. 3 Use a trowel handle or jointer to tidy up and shape the mortar joints. Most brick walls have concave—inward dipping—mortar joints. Assuming this is the case, slide the rounded handle tip of your trowel, or the concave edge of your brick jointer, along each mortar joint so they match the concave look of the existing joints.
    • If the wall has flat mortar joints, skip this part.
  4. 4 Scrape away the excess mortar on the bricks with a trowel blade. Work carefully so you don’t mess up the nice concave (or flat) joints you made in the mortar between the bricks. Make short, quick scrapes across the face of each brick in the area to remove the excess mortar.
    • Use a damp rag to wipe away any remaining bits of mortar on the bricks.
  5. Advertisement

Add New Question

  • Question How many bricks can you safely remove at one time? If I need to replace six bricks in one spot can I take them all out at once or should I replace one at a time? At one end of the course of bricks, take out two bricks. Then replace one brick with new mortar. Once set, take out the next brick, maintaining a gap of only one brick.
  • Question The damaged brick I want to replace is London Stock. What should the pointing be made up of? Don’t use cement-based mortar, it is too hard. Use lime mortar – level 3 hardness for outside, but level 2 is okay for inside.

Ask a Question 200 characters left Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Submit Advertisement

While not absolutely necessary, consider spraying the repaired area with water a couple of times a day for 3 or 4 days. This will help the mortar to cure more slowly and adhere better to the bricks.

Advertisement

  • While replacing one brick is often a manageable DIY job, replacing multiple, contiguous bricks is usually best left to the pros. Attempting a complicated DIY masonry job that you’re not experienced enough for, then having to hire a mason to fix your mess, will cost you more money in the long run.
  • Always wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and work gloves when doing brickwork.

Advertisement

  • Protective eyewear
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Drill with masonry bit
  • Spray bottle
  • Water and mixing buckets
  • Bolster chisel
  • Cold chisel
  • Lump hammer
  • Pointed trowel
  • Brick jointer
  • Mortar mix
  • Mortar coloring (optional)
  • Angle grinder (optional)

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 136,820 times.

Do cracks in walls always mean foundation problems?

Is Your Wall Crack Caused By A Foundation Problem? – Wall cracks are usually a sign of foundation movement but they don’t necessarily mean there’s structural damage. In other words, a foundation can move slightly and cause a wall crack, but that doesn’t mean there’s any structural damage requiring a foundation repair. Of course, a wall crack can also be a sign of structural damage. This structural damage might have been caused by expansive soil, vibration, drainage problems, seismic activity, a severe wind storm, or something else. Cracks caused by structural damage are almost always more noticeable.

Vertical wall cracksHorizontal wall cracksStairstep cracks in brickBowed wall with cracksCracks in stuccoBasement wall cracksA crack caused by a wall that’s separating from the ceiling or floor

When should I be concerned about settling cracks?

Wall cracks – Not all wall cracks indicate structural issues with your home. Some level of cosmetic cracks can simply be a part of the settling process. Settling cracks will be vertical, between two and six inches long, and 1/16 of an inch in width. If the cracks you’re seeing are horizontal or wider than 1/16 of an inch, that could indicate improper settling.