Fastening an Interior Wall to Concrete

This story covers the different types of fasteners used for fastening framing to concrete.

Intro

Which type of fastener is right for you? For speed, it's impossible to beat powder-actuated fasteners. But unless you've already invested in this tool, you'll have to factor in the time involved in two round trips to the rental center and filling out the paperwork. If you're finishing an entire basement, you'll save enough time to make the rental process worthwhile. But it's a questionable call for installing a single wall.

No matter which fastener you choose, consider 1 inch of concrete penetration as the minimum. To increase holding power, choose a fastener that burrows deeper into the concrete or has a larger diameter. For example, a screw with a diameter of 1/4 inch has more than twice the pullout resistance of a 3/16-inch screw when both are driven 1 inch deep into concrete. Driving the fasteners 1-3/4 deep more than triples the pullout resistance for the 3/16-inch screw, and the 1/4-incher is nearly three times stronger. In shear (perpendicular to the long axis of the fastener), the 1/4-inch screw is nearly twice as strong as the 3/16-inch version.

Checklist

Time
The time varies widely from a few seconds each for powder-driven fasteners to several minutes' drilling time for other fasteners.

Tools
Wood bits and carbide-tipped concrete bits, drill, hammer, wrenches

Skills
Drilling

Prep
Lay out spacing of fasteners on sole plate: one fastener near each end of the wall, and one in every other stud bay.

Materials
Your choice of fasteners

Steel Track

With steel track, you can install a fastener as short as 20 mm, but a 27 mm length produces the better penetration and superior strength. Choose a 72 mm fastener length when working with 2x stock. The boosters (powder cartridges) are available in a variety of color-coded strengths to match the fastener to the density of your concrete. A yellow booster is about midway on the power range and is usually a good starting point.

Hardened Concrete Nails

If the concrete is less than a year old, you may be able to drive special hardened concrete nails. Some concrete nails are the cut-nail design, shown in the photo, with a thick flat shank and a tapering V-profile. Other nails have a thick shank that sometimes has spiral ridges for improved holding power. Choose a length that will penetrate the concrete at least 1 inch. Be sure to wear safety goggles when hammering masonry nails into concrete.

Masonry Screws

Masonry screws are an easy solution to concrete fastening chores. When you buy the screws, you'll also need to get a special bit that makes a pilot hole matched to the fastener. Drill at least 1/4 inch deeper into the concrete than the fastener's embedment, and suck dust out of the hole with a shop vac. The hex-head style has an integral washer to spread the bearing pressure for a firm grip.

Drop-In Anchors

There are several different styles of drop-in anchors. The style shown is called a sleeve anchor, and it installs easily through identical-size holes in both the sole plate and concrete. Tightening the hex nut pulls on the bolt and expands the slotted metal sleeve within the hole.

Hammer-Drive Anchor

A hammer-drive anchor requires only a small pilot hole; the one shown requires only a 1/4-inch hole. Drill the hole at least 1/4 inch deeper than the length of the lower portion, and vacuum or blow out the hole. Drop in the anchor, and hammer on the pin to expand the bottom of the shield against the wall of the hole.


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