Before we begin I feel the need to remind you that this is a DIY article.
If you do not feel confident in your ability to replace a brick after reading this, or if you have a large section of bricks that need to be replaced, I suggest contacting Point Brik brick and mortar restoration.
Still determined? Then you’ve come to the right place.
When replacing a single brick, sometimes called “cut and plug” brick replacement, there are three simple steps. These are preparation, removal, replacement.
Step 1: Preparation
In any DIY job, but especially with masonry, it’s important that you have all of the right tools BEFORE you begin. For our purposes, the tools have been separated into the step when you will need them.
For removal: ear and eye protection, dust mask, gloves, a grinder with a diamond blade (preferably 4½”), a skill saw with a diamond blade, and a Sawzall with diamond grit. These can frequently be rented or they can be purchased from your local hardware store. I recommend using saws instead of a hammer and chisel to remove the brick so you minimize damage to the surrounding wall and so you can flip and reuse the brick you remove. You’ll need blades with diamond dust, or grit, on them to avoid damaging your blade or the saw and to make your job easier and faster. There is also a technique using a drill, but it will not be covered in this article.
For replacement: grout, water, a bucket to mix grout, a sponge or cloth, a brick that matches, a large trowel, and a pointing trowel. Make sure to match the color and texture of your grout. Often your local hardware store can help you with this. Finding a brick that matches can be tricky, especially for older homes. Ideally, you’ll be able to remove the brick whole and simply flip it around to plug back in place, but just in case everything does not go to plan be sure to have a matching back up brick on hand.
Step 2: Removal
Once you have donned the proper safety equipment, begin by using the grinder on the mortar surrounding the brick. The horizontal mortar lines give you a little bit of leeway to the left and right of the brick, but be careful not to damage bricks below or above it as you remove the mortar. Once you have created a channel with the grinder, move on to the skill saw to remove as much of the remaining mortar above and below the brick as you can. You can then use the Sawzall to remove any remaining mortar, including on either side of the brick. This should sufficiently loosen you brick so that it falls out or is able to be pulled out. If you have removed all of the mortar and it remains in place, resort to a chisel. Make sure your new hole is clear of all debris.
Step 3: Replacement
Mix your grout to the desired consistency and slather onto the bottom of your hole. Butter up the sides. Place more mortar on top of your brick and wiggle it into the hole. Load up the larger of your two trowels with mortar and use your pointing trowel to thoroughly fill in all remaining gaps. Clean with a slightly damp towel or sponge being careful not to remove mortar from the cracks. Leave it to dry.
That’s it, three easy steps to a beautiful new brick.