Here are a number of frequently asked questions on the subject of anchors and other general fixing topics.

What is a concrete anchor? 

Concrete is a strong but potentially quite friable material.

If you have ever tried just putting a standard screw directly into concrete, then you will know why concrete anchors are typically required.

Essentially, if you don’t use an appropriate anchor you may find that your screw or other fixing simply pulls out of the concrete over time as the substrate crumbles.

How do I choose one? 

This isn’t easy to concisely summarise because there are a significant number of factors you will need to take into account.

One useful technique that might help you select the appropriate solution might be to complete the following checklist, either in your own mind or on a piece of paper:

  • how much load am I going to place on this item?
  • how is the load distributed?  Is it likely to be heavier at one end than the other?
  • as a result of the above, how much load is likely to be on each individual fixing and anchor?
  • is the load likely to be primarily sheer or tensile – in other words roughly at 90° to or vertically on, the fixing?
  • what is the exact nature of the substrate being fixed to and what condition is it in?
  • how close will I be working to the edge of the concrete (e.g., perhaps the mortar between two concrete blocks)?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you should be able to match your particular set of requirements against a particular option or two for concrete fixings.

There are plenty of available look-up charts on the internet through fixing suppliers or in some DIY outlets.

How many different types are there?

You’ll find that there are, quite literally, dozens.

Some of these will be relatively simple light hammer-based based solutions involving a nail being driven into a metal sheath inserted into a hole in the concrete.  This type of solution would have been very familiar to our great, great grandparents!

Some are very specialised heavyweight solutions, designed to support massive loads and best inserted using professional calibre heavy duty tools.

If the concrete is in poor condition or you are working close to an edge, you might want to consider resin based anchors and avoid those that are designed to significantly expand inside the drilled hole once inserted.

What is important is to select the right anchor for the right type of job.  If you are in any doubt whatsoever over your selection or just what the nature of your job is telling you about the type of fixings you might require, it might be advisable to take qualified advice.

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