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One of the most popular renovations for historic brick homes is removing the plaster on an interior wall to expose the natural beauty of the brick. Warm and inviting, it adds a textural dimension, and lends an extra layer of historical authenticity to your home’s interior.  Although the exposed brick gives visitors an idea about the history of the house, it doesn’t really tell your part of the story. To do that, you’ll want to personalize the room with family photos and other meaningful mementoes, once you understand a few basics about how to hang things on brick walls. 

Do You Drill the Mortar or the Brick?

Historic brick walls are softer than their modern counterparts, but with proper preparation they can still adequately support your hanging items.

Light items such as picture frames can hang in the mortar, as can mid-weight items with multiple support anchors. Should you ever change your interior design and move things around, it’s easier to repair a hole in the mortar than in brick. That being said, very heavy items or items that will be frequently used, should be hung on the brick in the same way you’d mount an exterior flagpole.

You Can Hang Almost Anything on a Brick Wall

For the most part, you can hang the same sorts of things on a brick wall as you could hang on other types of walls. This includes many decorative and functional items such as artwork, shelving, mirrors, sconces, and coat hooks.

To hang items on the wall, you will need chalk, a level, masonry anchors, a drill, appropriately-sized masonry bits, a rubber mallet, picture hooks or support brackets, screws, and a screwdriver. It is always a good idea to cover nearby items with a drop cloth. Drilling into brick walls can be dusty and messy.

  1. Use a piece of chalk to mark the location of the hangers. 

  2. With a masonry bit, drill deep enough to accommodate your wall anchor. 

  3. You will need multiple anchors spaced several inches apart to spread the weight out for heavy pieces. 

  4. When using multiple anchors, always use your level to ensure everything lines up straight.

  5. Tap the anchor into the hole with the mallet.

  6. Use the screwdriver to place the screw into the anchor.

Always account for the position of the hanger on the item itself—things like wire will hang slightly lower once on the support.

Helpful Tips for Hanging Your Items

When it comes to hanging things on brick walls, the biggest tip is to practice your layout first! First, cut out the size and shape of your items from paper to make templates. Then, use the templates and painter’s tape to mock up how you intend to hang the items, moving the templates around until you’re satisfied.

  • Safety first! Wear eye and ear protection, as well as a dust mask.

  • Make sure your wall anchor is the right size and correctly rated to hold the weight of your item.

  • Don’t skip any anchors or screw holes; your item could become loose or fall off.

  • Place your anchor against your drill bit to check its length. Next, wrap a piece of painter’s tape around the drill bit where the head of the anchor is. You’ll know that you’ve drilled far enough when the tape hits the wall.

  • You'll need a hammer drill if you’re drilling into the brick itself.

  • Avoid drilling near the edges of the brick to prevent chipping and cracking.

If your mortar or brick is already chipping, cracking, bulging, or missing in places, it’s best to have it inspected by a historic brick specialist before moving forward with your hanging projects. They can accurately assess the wall’s condition and let you know if it’s safe to start drilling. If repairs are needed, you’ll be able to get those taken care of before you even approach the wall to hang that first item. Best of all, you’ll be confident that your photos, artwork, and other decorative things will be securely hung and displayed precisely where you want them for years to come.

Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration and historic preservation, specializes in the restoration of a historic brick building’s mortar joints using traditional methods (tuckpointing) and materials. Contact us for a free site visit and project quote.

Post by Christina Wilson
Jan 26, 2023 8:30:00 AM