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Handy Man Tips : How to Cut a Hole in a Brick Wall FAQS

Updated on April 6, 2016
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Getting Started

It's great if you are able to line up at least one side of the cut--not to mention the top and/or bottom--with either end of the brick or a mortar joint..Unfortunately for us, this cut had to be centered for cosmetic purposes.
It's great if you are able to line up at least one side of the cut--not to mention the top and/or bottom--with either end of the brick or a mortar joint..Unfortunately for us, this cut had to be centered for cosmetic purposes. | Source

Getting Started

If you are a handyman or do-it-yourself type of person, there may come a time when it is necessary to cut a hole in a brick wall or foundation. At one time this project would entail using a chisel and hammer to break and chip the brick and mortar from the proposed area. Today however, there are masonry blades to fit a circular saw which makes it much easier to cut the proposed hole. This article will take you step-by-step through the planning and cutting stage of penetrating through a brick wall or foundation.



Planning and Marking the Cut-out


The photos accompanying this article illustrate the procedure for cutting a hole in a brick foundation. The owner of this home needed more ventilation beneath his house to help rid excess moisture causing mold and mildew to form on the sub flooring and floor joists. This is a single trace thick brick foundation wall to be cut and removed so a vent may be installed.

The same procedure can be followed for larger openings, such as for cutting an extra door or window opening. For these openings it is important to start at the top of the proposed opening and to insert a header as soon as possible to hold up the remaining brick above the opening. Without such a header the brick and mortar above the proposed opening may crack or collapse without anything to support it.

It is important to first find out what is behind the brick you are planning to cut away. In this case it was critical to not cut a hole in front of the concrete pillars supporting the floor. These pillars would block the flow of fresh air and render the vents useless.

The possibility of plumbing and electrical wiring being in the cutting area should be taken into consideration before attempting to make a cut. For this job it was necessary to look under the house to ascertain no such problems would arise.

For wider openings you may wish to know what studs to cut between and if a header is needed to support the wall. You may even decide to cut the inside wall first to make sure of obstructions before cutting the outer brick wall. Once the dimensions are decided it is time to mark the brick for cutting.

A piece of chalk is useful to mark the desired cutting lines. Try to avoid leaving small brick pieces on either side of the hole. It may be helpful to move the lines a little left or right to help avoid this occurrence. When you are satisfied with the dimensions you may now chalk the lines for cutting.

Cutting the Hole

Marked and ready to be cut
Marked and ready to be cut | Source
Cutting the brick with the saw
Cutting the brick with the saw | Source
With the cuts made as deep as possible, it's no time to start removing the brick.
With the cuts made as deep as possible, it's no time to start removing the brick. | Source

Cutting the Brick With A Masonry Saw

Although the masonry blade is not sharp, it can still cause injury to exposed skin so be very careful as always when using any power tool. Be sure to use a quality pair of safety glasses and gloves for the hands. A dust mask of some sort is also recommended to keep from inhaling the mortar and brick dust being expelled from the cut.

Because it is hard to keep the saw perfectly aligned with the mark it is recommended you cut slightly inside the lines to avoid damaging the remaining brick. It is easier to trim any brick away after the final cut if needed.

A plunge cut is used to start the hole. Set the saw to its deepest cutting level even though it may not cut completely through the brick. Start away from the corners and slowly lower the blade into the cut. A firm grip is needed to keep the saw from jerking when it contacts the brick.

The saw will try to go the direction of the blade rotation but not enough to make it hard to hold steady. You will quickly learn to maintain the saw enough to cut easily and quickly. Do not cut past the marked corners as these will be finished by hand. If possible, make your upper and lower cuts in the mortar as this material is easier to cut than the brick.



Getting Through?

In this case we had to punch out brick in the center because of the odd location of the vent,  Once you remove a few brick the rest will be easy to get out.
In this case we had to punch out brick in the center because of the odd location of the vent, Once you remove a few brick the rest will be easy to get out. | Source
In another spot we were able to punch out the top trace of brick and continue on down easily.
In another spot we were able to punch out the top trace of brick and continue on down easily. | Source
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Finishing the Job

Trimming and Installing the Frame


Once the brick has been cut to your satisfaction it is time to remove the debris from the area. If the saw blade did not cut completely through the brick you must finish the cut by hand. Here is where using a hammer drill will speed the process and help avoid wielding a chisel more than necessary.

Using a masonry bit, drill a series of holes along the sides of the cut and along the top and bottom too. The more holes you drill the less you will have to chisel. The safety glasses are worn during the entire process including drilling and chiseling.

A good set of masonry chisels makes the difference is how easy it is to complete the job. Like using the saw, you soon learn how to remove the excess brick with the chisel.

Once you have completed the hole it is time to frame the opening. In this example pressure treated 2x 4’s are used. The top and bottom pieces can be cut slightly shorter than needed but the sides should be cut tight enough to give support to the brick above the hole.

Concrete screws are used to attach the frame firmly to the sides of the hole. The hole is now ready for installation of the vent or whatever purpose needed. Once you have completed your project you will have gained valuable experience for future construction endeavors.

This includes projects involving cutting and expanding openings in brick or block wall. As always, be extremely careful both in planning and cutting the hole. Good luck with your project!

Comments

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    • privateye2500 profile image

      privateye2500 7 years ago from Canada, USA, London

      goodie - now I know how to not just run into them! ;}

      Melanie

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      We learn something everyday Melanie!

    • shanel profile image

      shanel 7 years ago from Seattle

      Great instructions. Love the suggestion to cut out the inside wall so that you know what you are dealing with before burrowing through the brick. Nice hub!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks shanel, for reading and the comments!

    • chrislloyd515 profile image

      chrislloyd515 6 years ago from UK

      Well I'm actually going to attempt this for the first time this weekend, using your guide combined with some others I've found online! So I won't hold your solely responsible ;)

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Take your time and be sure to check behind the proposed hole area before beginning if you can. Thanks Chris, and good luck on your project!

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa

      Randy Godwin

      ''The owner of this home needed more ventilation beneath his house to help rid excess moisture causing mold and mildew to form on the sub flooring and floor joists.''

      Whenever there is a mold condition, the source creating the mold need to be resolved first. The appearance of mold many times is related to water dampness and need to be corrected .Should ventilation be required, the total area should be taken in consideration. The calculation of the venting area is related to the space requiring ventilation.

      Mold is a serious problem that may require an inspection from a qualified service to determine a solution to the mold problem.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      You are correct, Jon! We had to install 3 separate vents to overcome the amount of moisture collecting under the house. The house was built up against the side of a hill, allowing moisture to seep under the foundation.

      A new drainage system was installed which channeled the water around the sides of the house. This, along with the extra vents, solved the problem. Fortunately, I am experienced in just such problems as this is not uncommon here in the humid south!

      Thanks for your comments1

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa

      Randy Godwin

      Don't neglect removing the mold and associated areas. The mold will spread if not removed. A professional should inspect the area. If the person would decide to sell the house, they may be required to disclose the mold situation. In most states there are requirements that need to be followed when mold is found. Mold is a health hazard and can effect the health of the occupations if present.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I appreciate your advice, Jon! The mold has been taken care of and everything is fine. The house belongs to my brother and will never be sold because it is part of our family farm. And I am a professional, believe it or not! LOL!

    • profile image

      Allan McInnes 6 years ago

      Hi, great tips. I want to replace a window in my garage wall with a door and smaller window. There is a steel header above at present. Do I need to drill thru the header to secure the frame for the door/window?

      Thanks

      Al

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      The door frame will require strong support, Allan. I would attach the frame to the steel header using self tapping screws. If you use a 2x4 for this purpose, make sure the screws are at least 3/4 of an inch longer than the thickness of the 2x4 or else countersink the holes.

      The weight of a the door itself ensures the need for this support. Thanks for the question!

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa

      Randy Godwin

      THE FAMILY FARM HOUSE

      Check it out, the government has some great tax credits for updating for insulation, caulking, windows, solar water heating and other green improvements on older buildings.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks again, Jon! We try to take advantage these tax credits whenever we can! Not only for the credits but because of the energy and money saved!

    • profile image

      Allan McInnes 6 years ago

      Thanks Randy. Much appreciated. Allan ( from bonnie Scotland.)

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      No problem, Allan! And some of my ancestors are from your neck of the woods! Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Eva 6 years ago

      Do you know how I can remove a scratch from a brick

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Check in the tile department at either Lowe's or Home depot! Some tinted tile grout might match the desired color. Stucco coloring tints might be made to match also!

      If you have a sample of the brick to take with you to compare colors it would help. I assume the scratch is deep?

      Sorry I have no better answer, but this is the first time I've been asked this question!

    • profile image

      brian Rule 6 years ago

      good practical advice - should be more of it

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks for reading my hub, and for the comment, Brian!

    • profile image

      Fran 6 years ago

      how much did this cost?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hello Fran, since we did this job ourselves, it didn't cost anything but time. But I have no idea what anyone else would charge for cutting the hole. Sorry!

      Randy

    • profile image

      JW 5 years ago

      So, if the blade does not completely cut through then it is best practice to drill holes through the brick and then crack with a chisel or bolster?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hello, JW. Even if the blade doesn't cut all of the way through the brick you may still remove the rest with a chisel or drill marking holes and cut from both sides.

    • profile image

      Gary 3 years ago

      How does the home handyman punch out a cut hole 1000mm X 1000mm and stay safe - not have it fall on him?

      Local Hire Shop here in the Sydney area has a 14" diameter electrical (and also petrol) hand-held brick saw available. So it will cut all the way through.

      With the size of my job - the horizontal cut at the base would be first due to weight pulling down on itself - onto circular blade?

      You mention the importance of installing a header. Is this also known a as a lintel? Can one install a horizontal thick piece of timber at the top, and then two verticals at the sides to support the brickwork above?

      Or do I need to cut a fat 'T' shape and install a metal (or timer) RSJ/I-beam?

      Job is for underhouse access (to store kayaks and excess timber, I guess) while also allowing air ventilation.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yes Gary, a header does the same job as a lintel, that is, it supports the weight of the bricks over the hole one is cutting through the brick wall traces. Very important when a large hole is to be cut. One usually installs a steel header first in such a case.

      An I-beam will work depending on the size hole being cut through the wall. Base the size beam on how many traces uou are cutting through.

      Good luck!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Maria, what is an RSJ?

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