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How to Drill Through Brick Slips?

Drilling through brick slips is a technical and risk-taking job. They can easily fell off and ruin your wall appearence.

I also once had to drill in to my brick slip wall for mounting a new television set so I experimented a few different ways and came up with a hassle-free drilling technique that I will share with you. Below is the complete guide.

How to drill through brick slips? To drill into brick slips, assess your wall’s structure. Drill slowly into your brick slips with a masonry bit. Replace the bit with a twist drill bit and drill through your insulation panel behind brick slips (if it’s there).

Switch back to the masonry drill bit, and drill into the brick wall. If there’s plasterboard behind the insulation panel, use a wood bit, or twist drill bit instead. Insert the suitable plug into the wall, and screw in.

For a stronger hold, drill with a hole saw bit, embed a space plug in the insulation panel, and drive your screw within it.

When drilling into brick slips, you’ll have to make sure your wall is structurally sound. Type of material your wall is made of, drill machine, drill bits, wall plugs, and screw also has significant roles in securing perfect drilling through the brick slips.

Before jumping straight into the drilling technique, you need to consider the following essentials related to brick slips.

An Overview Brick Slips

1. What are brick slips?

Brick slips are thin slices (20mm mostly) of real bricks strongly glued to walls, either exterior or interior. They come in different colors and textures.

Brick slips are in trend because;

  • They can adhere to the previously built walls.
  • Don’t occupy much space.
  • Give off traditionally classical vibes.
  • Overall, expense efficient.

Brick Slips are similar to conventional bricks because both are;

  • Made of sand, clay, and lime.
  • Excellent in strength.

2. What is the best adhesive for brick slips?

There are two kinds of adhesives that are used to fix the brick slips;

  1. Mortar-based (one component is cement): It is used on porous surfaces that absorb water like brick or concrete.
  2. Epoxy-based (one component is epoxide): It is used on non-porous surfaces like polystyrene or plastic backing (insulating sheets) that don’t absorb water.

The right sort of adhesive for your specific kind of wall is crucial because it will determine how much weight your brick slips can sustain. The wrong pairing will result in weak bonding.

3. What are brick slips attached to?

  1. Brick slips are attached directly to the drywall (made of plasterboard, gypsum panels, etc.) or a solid wall (made of brick, concrete, metal, etc.).
  2. Brick slips are bonded to insulation panels that cover the exterior of a solid wall or drywall.

Insulation material (polystyrene, fiberglass, mineral wool, etc.) is in the form of boards or panels with a thickness of 75-100 mm.

Sometimes, insulation panels are overlaid with a steel mesh for additional strength and underlaid by a plastic sheet for weather resistance.

4- Can you drill through brick slips?

Yes, you can drill through brick slips as they are super strong like brick walls when they bond using a proper adhesive. You will need proper drill bits and anchors concerning the end goal. Normally, you can drill them using standard masonry drill bits but avoid the hammering feature turned on.

Now that you have pondered upon the basics, let’s go through the process of drilling

Steps to follow to drill through brick slips:

Step 1: Inspect your wall before drilling through brick slips:

a. Check Quality of the wall:

  • Since brick slips are made of real bricks, they have an average life span of 500 years. Make sure your brick slips are not too thin. Otherwise, they might crack if you drill through them.
  • Brick slip adhesives may become brittle or shrink with age, but manufacturers certify their products before bringing them to market, so you don’t need to worry about your brick slips detaching if you’re drilling through them.
  • If your brick slips are attached to the plasterboard, you need to make sure it is not old enough. The average life span of a gypsy wall is 50 years.
  • If your brick slips are attached to an insulation panel, you should be aware that it is replaced after 80 to 100 years. 
  • If your brick slips are attached directly to your masonry wall, you are good to go as it takes ages to become brittle or too porous.
  • Ensure your wall is structurally sound so that your cabinets, mirror, etc., and the brick slips don’t get damaged.

b. Consider electric wires or pipelines:

When you’re drilling, be sure you don’t drill into electric wires. There are certain codes of practice that electricians have to regard.

An electric wire will always run perpendicularly to the switchboard. It won’t be diagonal. So keep in mind the route of the electric wires when drilling.

Step 2: Choose a mid-toruqe drill machine

  • If your brick slips have plasterboard, insulation panel on the back, or both, a hammer drill will be okay. You will be only using the drilling effect on the brick behind the insulation panel, if needed.
  • If your brick slips are bonded to a solid brick wall, a hammer drill or SDS rotary drill machine will be compatible. SDS is a more powerful and fast working drill machine.

Step 3: Choose a suitable masonry drill bit

You will be changing your drill bits during the course:

1- For the brick slip layer, use a masonry bit.
2- For the insulation panel, use a twist drill bit or carry on with the masonry drill bit.
3- For plasterboard, use a twist drill bit, wood drill bit, or masonry drill bit.
4- For brick walls, use a masonry drill bit.

  • If you’re not confident in drilling on a single go, always make a pilot hole on your brick slip first.
  • Drill bits come in 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch size (suitable for home and workshop). Larger bits also come in 5/16-inch to 1/2-inch size if you need them for more heavy drilling.
  • The carbide or titanium coated drilled bits are stronger, sharper, and produce less friction.
  • If you are planning to drill deep, always use longer-length drill bits.
  • If you plan to drill a large hole, you will use a hole saw drill bit throughout the course and not use the hammering effect.

Step 4: What plugs do I use for brick?

Choosing the wall plug or anchor depends on depth, the material of the wall your plug will flush in, and how much sustainable fixing do you want.

a. Brick slip -> Insulation panel -> brick wall:

If your brick slips are attached to the insulation panel that is further attached to a brick wall, then you will aim at making your wall plug sit deep in the brick. This is because the insulation panel and brick slip can not withhold weight. The screw will pull out and tear the insulation, and your brick slip would crack.

A wall plug diameter is the same as the drill bit diameter. For this operation, you will need wall plugs used with the masonry drill. Their color denotes them;

  • Brown (7mm diameter, 35mm length) works with a 7mm drill bit.
  • Red (6mm diameter, 30mm length) works with a 6mm drill bit.
  • Yellow (5mm diameter, 25 mm length) works with a 5mm drill bit.

b. Brick slip -> Insulation panel -> plasterboard wall:

Your wall plug will now hold on to the back of the plasterboard wall. You will need to use a butterfly, plasterboard, or a toggle plug. They keep the fixing firm by spreading their wings or segments behind the hollow plasterboard. Different sizes are available. Choose according to your need and drill bit size.

Plastic toggle bolts can hold up to 20 pounds of weight, while metal can hold more than 50 pounds.

There’s another awesome anchor called space plug. They work too well on an insulated plasterboard wall with brick slips on the front and concrete on the back. You’ll need a hole saw bit to make a comparatively bigger hole for the plug to flush in.

Step 5: Pair your anchor with a screw:

A plug and a screw usually come in pairs. So you won’t have to worry about finding the right or suitable screw for your anchor. Just buy them together.

Now that you’re equipped with theoretical knowledge, let’s get into action!

Step 6: Mark Your drilling spot:

With a pen or something that highlights the spot, mark the area you want to drill in.

You may also want to stick a paper tray to the wall below the area to collect the brick slip debris that will exude out of the drilled hole.

Adjust your depth guide with the thickness of the brick slip (20 mm). The depth guide is a long, slender iron rod that is attached to the drill. If you don’t have one, you can always use masking tape on the masonry drill bit.

Step 7: Drilling the brick slip portion of the wall:

(This step is same for all kinds of walls, as all of them have brick slips on their front)

Start drilling into your brick slip by first making a pilot hole with the masonry bit. This way, your drilling bit won’t wander across.

Then go deep. Keep your drill slow and in normal mode, don’t use the hammer action. It might crack your brick slips.

Before drilling, make sure your drill machine is not over your shoulder. Keep it just about the armpit and your face away from the wall.

Your drill machine needs to be at the right (90 degrees) angle to the wall. Also, wear shielding goggles, masks, and earplugs.

According to SpringerLink’s research, anchors inserted in mortar joints surpass pull-out strength than anchors injected in bricks. So, you may opt for drilling into your brick slip’s mortar lines.

Step 8: Drilling through the insulation panel of the wall:

Swap your masonry drill bit with a twist drill bit. Adjust the depth guide (75- 100 mm). Drill in normal mode.

Once you have reached the end of the panel, rotate the drill in the opposite direction to pull it out. Clear out the debris.

Step 9: Drilling through the brick wall or plasterboard segment:

a- Brick wall:

Change your drill bit back to the masonry drill bit. Start with a pilot hole without turning on the hammering feature. Once you are 1/2″ inch deeper, gradually increase the speed and turn on the hammering feature if required.

b- Plasterboard:

You can use a twist drill bit, wood drill bit, or masonry drill bit. Insert your drill tip into the hole made in brick slip and insulation panel, and start drilling slowly once you’ve reached the end, back out with the opposite spin.

Your wall might have an order like brick slip -> plasterboard -> Insulation -> concrete. For this kind of sequence, space plugs work great.

Use a hole saw drill bit for making a comparatively bigger hole in the insulation panel of your wall. Your space plug will occupy this space. Further in the concrete, a universal-plug will be inserted in the wall.

Step 10: Insert the plug:

Please select the right size plug, and slip to the end of the hole. The plug must fit exactly in the drilled hole. Otherwise, the fixing would be bad.

If your wall has a longer breadth, the universal plug won’t work alone. Use a space plug or any other similar plug. Space plug will be embedded in the insulation bed of the wall.

Step 11: Drive the screw in:

Change the drill’s bit with the suitable screwdriver drill. Turn on the screw driving mode of the drill.

Lightly hit your screw into the plug with a hammer. Now drive the screw with the drill machine into the plug. Go deep to the limit you want your screw inside the plug.

If you are fixing a cabinet, etc., you will have to drill a hole in it. You will screw this fixing along. Driving the screw alone is done when you’re planning to ‘hang’ something.

That’s it, in the above mentioned 11 easy steps you can drill through and fix in your brick slip walls!

Related Questions?

  1. How to drill a large hole in a brick wall?

You will need a power drill, a right size core drill bit (carbide or diamond type), a guide drill bit, and a suitable arbor.

Secure your core drill bit into the drill machine with the help of the arbor. Insert the guide drill bit into the center of the core drill bit.

Mark a spot on the wall where you want to drill. Put your guide drill bit onto it, and slowly start drilling. Don’t use hammering action as it will damage the core drill bit. After the pilot hole has been drilled, remove the guide drill bit and resume drilling. Take pauses in between to let your drill bit cool down.

Drilling a large hole is a longer procedure, so you should be patient and don’t push your drill bit onto the wall, let the drill machine and drill bit do their task.

2. What do you use to stick brick slip?

If you’re sticking your brick slips to a porous surfaces like brick or concrete, youse cement based adhesives. If your surface is non porous like polystyrene or plastic backing, use epoxy based adhesives.

The right sort of adhesive for your specific kind of wall is crucial because it will determine how much weight your brick slips can sustain. The improper pairing will result in a dull bonding.