How to Replace Damaged Bricks
As strong and sturdy as brick walls are (just think about which of the 3 little pigs’ houses actually withstood the wolf’s powerful breath), it is possible that a brick or two may crack or become damaged after years of weathering outdoor conditions.
A damaged brick needs to be replaced or they will continue to absorb moisture which will keep the wall from remaining intact for long.
Step #1: Identify which bricks need replacement
Before you go about actually replacing the bricks, you need to identify all the bricks that need to be replaced and analyze the type of damage so that you can replace only the ones that need it and not the surrounding bricks.
Step #2: Find replacement bricks
Finding bricks identical to those used in the original structure and maintaining the pointing (the mortar joints between bricks) requires a higher level of careful consideration than you might think. It’s not always an easy feat to find a perfect substitute for bricks when you have to consider the color, size, and texture especially if you want them to have a worn look to match an older brick structure. We’ve created an entire article on how to match brick so employ these 6 tips when searching for a replacement brick.
Once you’ve purchased the bricks, it is essential that you water them so as to increase their strength and make them consistent with the mortar that’ll be applied to them.
Step #3: Remove the damaged brick(s)
Using a cold chisel, scrape the old mortar around the brick then employ both the chisel and a club hammer to remove the brick. If you find that doesn’t work, use a power drill or masonry cutting wheel to drill holes in the mortar around the brick so that it crumbles out of its spot easily. After you’ve successfully removed the brick, make sure to clear the surface of any remaining brick and mortar. Then spray it down with some water.
Step #4: Apply mortar
When it comes to the mortar, you can choose one of three options: 1) Porter cement-based mortar, 2) a mixture of lime and sand, or 3) a ready-to-use mortar mix from the market. Once the cement mix is ready, dampen the area that you are planning to repair with water.
Apply the mortar to the base and horizontal sides of the open cavity and then on top of the brick using a sharp trowel. You want to create a layer of about 10 mm on all sides. Carefully slide the brick into the hole then tap it in until it’s even with the surrounding bricks. Using the handle of your trowel, match the new mortar joint to the joints in the rest of the wall to ensure a uniformed look.
Step #5: Remove excess mortar
After you’ve replaced the brick, remove any excess mortar using your hand or a flat chisel.
For the next 2 to 3 days, keep the replaced brick damp so that the mortar can dry and cure correctly (which takes about 24-36 hours). We also recommend covering the dampened area with a plastic sheet to properly retain the moisture.