How to Replace Broken Bricks in a Foundation or Wall

Living in an older home I find that repairs and especially replacing deteriorated materials (siding, fascia, trim, etc.) is required more frequently. During a recent inspection of my home’s exterior I noticed that several bricks in the steps leading up to my front entrance as a result of water seeping into small cracks and freezing had broken. Some of these were more severely damaged than others. The most severe had actually shattered to the extent that the face had separated from the body of the brick leaving an ugly, ragged red surface which seriously detracted from the appearance of my house.

I found that replacing these broken bricks was a job I could do even with limited experience in masonry. I would like to share my method with those who may need similar repairs, but lacking experience may have been reluctant to attempt a repair of this type.

Tools and Equipment required:

Bricks equal in number to those being replaced
A Steel Chisel
A hammer
A two gallon water bucket filled with one gallon of water
One bag of Cement-sand mix
One small cement mixing pan ( a disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan works fine)
A mason’s trowel
A stiff-bristled brush (plastic or wire bristle)

Step 1 – Using the steel chisel and hammer carefully remove the broken brick by cutting it into smaller pieces. I start by placing the chisel in the middle of the brick, striking the chisel and breaking the brick in half and then proceed to cut the halves into quarters. This allows the removal of pieces of brick without risking damage from the chisel to the adjacent bricks.

Step 2 – Once all of the pieces of the damaged brick are removed carefully remove the cement which had bound the old brick to the adjacent ones. In most cases the old cement can be easily removed with slight pressure from a hand held chisel. If possible do not use the hammer and chisel to avoid breaking the undamaged bricks. Once all old cement is removed use stiff bristled brush dipped in water to clean the cemented surfaces on each of the four sides.

Step 3 – Place bricks equal in number to those being replaced into the water filled bucket.(This will allow the brick to better absorb the cement)

Step 4 – Following mixing directions on the bag for the cement-sand mix, measure out the quantity required for the number of bricks to be replaced, add water and thoroughly mix cement until it reaches the consistency of very thick pancake batter.

Step 5 – Remove one brick from the water bucket and shake off excess water. Using trowel spread cement approximately 1/2 inch thick evenly on all four sides.
of the brick.

Step 6 – Insert brick into the opening allowing and excess cement to be squeezed out and fall away (excess cement ensures adequate surface coverage in the joints). If there are gaps or cement voids in the joints use trowel to insert and push additional cement into the gap.

To ensure proper alignment with the existing bricks I use an 18 inch 1 X 4 board placed on the face of the brick on which I use to tap the brick into place with the trowel handle. When the overlapping ends of the board come in contact with the existing brick faces on each side I know the brick is properly aligned. I repeat this procedure for any exposed surface of the brick.

Step 7 – While there is special tool for doing this step (I don’t have one) I use my finger after dipping in water to smooth out the exposed cement joints. This leaves a smooth, rounded face in the joint.

Step 8 – Repeat steps 1-7 for each damaged brick.

Step 9 – Allow the cement to dry for one hour. Using stiff bristled brush dipped in water clean brick surfaces of excess cement.

Step 10– Using hose with nozzle set on fine spray gentle sprinkle all the new cement surfaces. Repeat spraying every 24 hours for two days at which point the cement is set.

The above procedure worked well for me. My repair of four damaged bricks was completed in a couple of hours and at minimum expense. With the exception of slightly altered color in the cement joints the repair is unnoticeable.

I hope this helps you.

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