How to cut though brick outside walls to put in doors & windows

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you wish to add more light to a room with a new window or include a new exterior door to access a new deck, cutting the opening in an exterior brick wall can be successfully accomplished with a little preparation and the right tools for the job. The removal of a portion of an exterior wall may have an impact on the structural integrity of the wall. You should consult your local building department regarding building regulations before beginning this project. It is recommended that, prior to beginning removal of the exterior brick, the interior wall finish be removed at the opening location to fully plan the demolition required.

Mark the location and dimensions of the new opening on the exterior surface of the brick with white crayon or chalk line. In determining the dimensions of the opening, be certain to allow for any perimeter framing the manufacturer of the door or window specifies for securing the unit to the brick wall and/or interior wood framing.

Set the depth of cut for the masonry blade on the circular saw to approximately 1.2 cm (1/2 inch). Wearing safety glasses and a dust mask, slowly make the initial cut in the brick wall around the full perimeter of planned opening.

When the first cut is complete, readjust the saw's depth of cut to approximately (1 inch) and repeat the cut around the opening perimeter. Repeat this cutting, resetting the depth of cut incrementally by 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) with each new cut until the full depth of the masonry blade is reached. This will create a near complete cut through the exterior bricks.

Using a masonry hammer, strike at the cut bricks just inside the cut line to dislodge a few and begin removing the bricks from the opening. Depending on the age and condition of the mortar joints between the bricks, older bricks may begin to come loose fairly easily, while newer mortar is harder and it may take a few strikes with a small sledge hammer to begin dislodging the bricks.

Continue to remove sections of bricks until the entire opening is cleared to the plywood sheathing and framing structure beneath. Use a stone chisel to clean rough edges of the cut brick to complete wall opening.


Use a white or yellow coloured chalk in your chalk line to make lines easier to distinguish during initial cutting procedure. Care should be taken to not disturb the brickwork around the outside of the opening's perimeter.


Cutting brick or masonry of any type is a slow, methodical process, and care should be taken to create a stable and secure platform, such as a section of horizontal scaffolding, from which to perform the work.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Builders level
  • Pry bar
  • Masonry hammer
  • Stone chisel
  • 8 1/2 inch circular saw equipped with a carborundum or masonry blade
  • 4.5 kg (10 lb) sledge hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust masks
  • Work gloves
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About the Author

Paul Massey has been writing since 2009, drawing on a 35-year career in the construction industry. His experience includes 15 years as a general building contractor specializing in architectural design, custom homes, commercial development and historic renovations.