A damaged brick on your exterior wall is more than just an eyesore – it can allow moisture to seep into the wall. During a freeze-thaw cycle, the moisture expands and contracts, causing further damage to the entire masonry surface. Signs of damage include cracked or crumbling exteriors, missing mortar, holes, or a brick that can be pulled out of the wall. The following guide can help with replacement.
#1: Prepare the replacement brick
The hardest part may be matching the brick, so you will need to visit a builder's supply or brickyard to find the closest match. Once you have your brick, soak it in water for a few hours before placing it in the wall. This allows the brick to absorb moisture so it it doesn't suck the water out of the mortar too quickly once the brick is set. Mortar that dries too fast can crumble instead of adhering to the brick properly.
#2: Remove the old brick
You will need a drill with a masonry bit to remove the old brick. You should also wear eye and face protection and gloves, since brick shards can cause cuts. Drill into the mortar surrounding the damaged brick. Place the holes right next to each other to form an unbroken line around the brick, removing the bulk of the mortar. At this point, the brick should be adequately loosened. If you still can't wiggle it out, scrape away any remaining mortar with a chisel and then pull the brick free.
For badly damaged bricks that you don't plan to reuse, you can drill around them as above, and then use a chisel and mallet to break them up for easier removal. Once removed, use the chisel and mallet to remove any mortar in the hole in the wall.
#3: Lay the mortar
It's finally time to begin installing the new brick. First, wet the inside of the hole so the bricks don't suck the moisture out of the mortar too quickly. Next, mix your mortar according to package instructions. If your home has colored mortar, you will need to mix in a mortar dye a little at a time until you match the color.
Apply a thick layer of mortar over the bottom of the hole, using a pointing trowel. Make the layer slightly thicker than the adjacent mortar lines. Then, carry the mortar up the side of the hole. Finally, take the replacement brick and coat the top with mortar. Slip the brick into the hole.
#4: Finish it off
There will likely be some mortar gaps on the top and sides of the brick. Force mortar into these gaps with the point of your trowel. Now, slide the the back the trowel over the mortar joints, smoothing them to the same depth as those on the rest of the wall. It will take the mortar several days to cure fully.
If you need more help, contact a local masonry contractor such as Nicholas Bianchini Masonry.