Do you drill into the brick or mortar when you are going to hang a picture, TV, or shelves on a brick wall? I get this question all the time when people watch our first how to hang shelves on a brick wall video.
There are all sorts of experts on the web, with varying degrees of expertise, who will weigh in on this topic. I work 80% of the time in 120 year old brownstone row houses, where there are many brick walls. I have hung many TVs, heavy mirrors, large pictures, etc. on brick walls. So I have an opinion about what is best that is based on experience.
Do You Drill Into Brick or the Mortar?
I've seen lots of crumbling mortar in the old buildings I work in, and some bad brick, but I always drill into the brick. If you are drilling into cinder block or cement block, I drill into that and not the cement pointing around the block.
In my mind, bricks are stronger than the mortar around them. They can hold an anchor and a screw or bolt well. I suggest using plastic anchors for lightweight objects, and lead anchors for medium weight items. For heavy things like TVs, you should use sleeved anchors. Be aware that once you put a sleeved anchor into brick or block, it probably won't come back out, its permanent. Something to consider if the house is a rental.
When drilling into cinder block, aka cement block, most blocks have hollow spaces in them, so you may be pressing on the drill and then you will hit the hollow space, and the drill will slam into the cement face. If the cinder block is an outside wall, the hollow spaces may be filled with cement and rebar (reinforcing rod) if you hit rebar with the drill bit, its not good. The drill bit will be damaged and you can't drill through rebar with a masonry bit.
You get what you pay for when buying tools, especially with masonry bits. Don't cheap out on them.