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Community and Q&A

Fasteners for concrete, brick, and CMUs

Martin Holladay | Posted in General Questions on

For an upcoming article on fastening various materials to concrete walls, brick walls, and CMU walls, I’d like to hear about your favorite fasteners.

I’m looking at fastening three types of materials:
1. 1×4 furring strips directly to a concrete wall, brick wall, or CMU wall.
2. 2×4 furring strips directly to a concrete wall, brick wall, or CMU wall.
3. Continuous rigid foam (2 inches thick or more) directly to a concrete wall, brick wall, or CMU wall.

I will also look at a fourth situation:
4. 1×4 furring strips over continuous rigid foam insulation to a concrete wall, brick wall, or CMU wall.

I’ll be looking at concrete screws (TapCons), powder-actuated fasteners, plastic cap fasteners, various Hilti systems, sleeve anchors, etc.

I’d like to hear from GBA readers. Have you performed any of these tasks? What fasteners did you use? Did everything go smoothly? What did you learn?


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  1. kjmass1 | | #1

    Hi Martin,

    I've done 2 home projects recently that involved attaching either 2x4's on to a brick/mortar parged wall, or a 2x6 flat on bricks as a sill to mount to. I used a hammer drill for the pilot hole and hammerset fasteners. The unevenness of my 1940's wall caused me a little trouble getting a couple of them to bite well (but manageable), but on a flat concrete foundation wall they would work great. Definitely get long ones as you want as much as possible in the wall. I also found it helpful to remove the nail from the sleeve so you can get the sleeve in place before hammering it home as sometimes the nail would start to set before the sleeve was fully embedded.

    I haven't had too much luck with Tapcons other than extra large screws to hang my pictures in my plaster walls. I'm sure they have a place though.

    I have had also luck with this method in a pinch:

    Just 2 nails that will lock together when hammered home.


  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate it.

    Now that you've gotten the ball rolling, I hope to hear from other readers -- especially if any readers have had better luck than you have with concrete screws like TapCons.

  3. Yupster | | #3

    Pre-drill a hole, insert a piece (or pieces) of copper wire, hammer in an spiral nail. Classic method of securing to concrete. Cheap too. Would provide good shear strength and when it's done right, they are very difficult to pull out.
    I've used many Tapcons, they work fantastic. You have to be careful not too overdrive them and you have to make sure you drill the hole about 1/2" deeper than the length of the screw. Do it right and they are the bees knees. Incidentally, that's also what I wanted to call my beekeeping business when I was 13. Settled on Hive Five Honey Farm. Very relevant to this conversation.

    Maybe consider adding adhesives to your list of concrete connectors?

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Thanks, Yupster.

    Keep those comments coming.

  5. Expert Member

    Like Yupster I'd suggest adhesive when possible, especially when trying to attach to soft porous masonry. PL Premium Fast Grab is my favourite.
    After too many sheared-off heads I've given up on Tap-cons. I find these more robust for hard concrete:

  6. rocket190 | | #6

    Whether it’s fastening sole plates, ledgers, or strapping, I have very little faith in Tapcons. Even with a hole drilled to their specification about 1 in 4 tends to twist the head off before they are fully set. This is in installation to solid concrete, so block might work ok.

    I have had good success with the hammer in split pin anchors. If you drill a hole you can’t screw it up. They grab hard enough to suck in a warped board, and you can drive them flush into framing lumber without countersinking. I also like the hammer set anchors, but I don’t think they are as strong in shear and the heads won’t sit flush without countersinking.

  7. user-7031471 | | #7

    When it really matters I use grk concrete screws. Vacuuming out the dust before driving in the screw helps. Tapcons I use only when little strength is required- decking screws work too, if the pilot hole is sized right

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