Concrete and Masonry Fasteners
A survey of anchors reveals some surprising alternatives to lead and plastic.
Synopsis: This is a survey of the various types of masonry anchors on the market, including a discussion of where each type is most useful and helpful pointers on how they are installed. It includes a list of manufacturers.
“If a horse can’t eat it, then I don’t like it.” That’s what Richie Allen, then a first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, said when AstroTurf was installed at the Houston Astrodome. As a carpenter, I’ve always had similar feelings about concrete. If my saw can’t cut it and if I can’t hammer a nail into it, then I don’t like it. But just as Allen had to play on AstroTurf, I’ve had to work with concrete.
I’ve never been comfortable fastening material to masonry—attaching a ledger board to a foundation wall to support a deck, installing a threshold on a concrete slab, or hanging kitchen cabinets on a brick wall. Like most residential carpenters, I usually chose lead anchors, also called lag shields. These were the only anchors I knew about, and the only ones available in most hardware stores and lumberyards, except for plastic anchors, which I always thought were pretty wimpy. Powder-actuated fasteners weren’t appropriate because I didn’t want to risk splitting the wood, or blowing out the concrete and having to use additional fasteners in one place.
I recently discovered that there’s a whole industry out there devoted to concrete and masonry fasteners, with trade associations, testing and regulatory agencies, manufacturers, importers, distributors, and lots of nifty fasteners. But most of the applications for these fasteners fall into the domain of commercial/ industrial construction, and that is where the marketing efforts are aimed. Many residential builders don’t know about all the different masonry anchors available…