How to Remove Old Brick

How to remove old bricks can be a daunting question and task, as bricks and masonry work are made to last for many years. Examples of bricklaying can be found as far back as the Bronze Age.

What if you decide you need to make some changes to your brick structure such as a brick fireplace? How do you remove the old bricks without damaging the surrounding bricks? Perhaps you want to make an opening in a wall such as a window. Is it possible to salvage the removed bricks for matching up the old bricks and future projects?

A Guide To Remove Old Bricks

The first step in removing old bricks would be to make a plan. How many old bricks are you going to remove and where are they located? Are you going to salvage these bricks for future use? If you are just knocking down an old brick wall not as much care has to be taken in removing them. If you are removing only a particular area and need to pay heed to the surrounding areas of brick it can get a little tricky and requires more planning. Special tools will help you along the way. If you are just repairing a brick that is damaged around the edges or crumbled a bit, you might try “Repointing”.

Repointing

If you are wanting to remove an old brick simply because it is damaged or the mortar is falling out and cracking, you might want to consider repointing it. To repoint you chisel out the old mortar and use a trowel to replace it with new mortar. It is very important that you do this job with care using the right materials and the right tools.

Chisel and Chipping

Chiseling and chipping with a chipping hammer is the easiest way to get mortar out from between bricks. Chipping hammers come in different sizes perfect for breaking away cement mortar between bricks. Usually, the smaller ones are powered by electricity. Often times you will have to resort to mechanical grinding as you get closer to the brick.  The positive note is the mortar is softer than the brick on most occasions with more air pockets. This same method is employed in cleaning up the bricks if you are saving them. Most of this work can be done by hand with chiseling and chipping away at the mortar. The fine-tuning of surface edgings and on the brick itself can be cleaned up with a steel wire brush.

Grind Mortar

When removing bricks start at the top first of where you are removing them. In some jobs, you will have to be more precise than others, especially if you are saving the bricks. Use an angle grinder and disc to grind mortar or get rid of pieces that you didn’t remove with a chipping hammer. When you have the brick free use a steel wire brush to remove any mortar still clinging to the bricks as mentioned earlier in “Chiseling and Chipping”. An industrial vacuum is a good friend when it comes to removing small chips and dust so they do not get in your way, and as a final cleaning for the bricks. You can also rinse the bricks in water when your task is completed to get rid of leftover residue.

Muriatic Acid

Muriatic Acid also known as hydrochloric acid (even though it is not pure) is sometimes used to dissolve mortar around bricks. Great caution has to be used when employing any corrosive as it will not only dissolve the part you are trying to remove, it will dissolve the part you are trying to keep. Muriatic Acid is not really recommended for removing and cleaning up bricks, even though it can do the job when great care is used. It is very important that you take safety precautions when using Muriatic Acid as it can be very dangerous. Make sure the area you are working in is well ventilated. Protective gloves, goggles, and chemical resistant clothes must be worn when working with corrosive substances at all times.

Remove Old Bricks with Success Overview

Removing old bricks and cleaning them up is not the daunting back-breaking task one might perceive it to be. Take your time and remember how the old bricks were laid in the first place. Many times the tools and resources we have today weren’t available when the bricks were laid. With patience, a good chipping hammer, and perseverance you will quickly become a master at “How to Remove Old Bricks”.

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