Get an Idea About All the Different Types of Masonry Anchors

It’s probably safe to say that one of the very first tasks every DIY’er learns is how to drive a nail ( … presumably straight) into a piece of wood. And of course, with enough time and practice – and bent nails and Band-Aids – we master it, before proudly moving on to more substantial building materials. Eventually, however, we finally accumulate the techniques, the tenacity and even the tools needed to tackle the top rung of building materials – masonry – only to realize there are almost as many different types of masonry fasteners being produced as there are types of masonry.

Fortunately, it’s not a completely unnavigable list, but it is helpful to have an idea of what’ll work best, and for precisely which substrate … that is, before breaking ground on that new carport.

An Anchor for Any Job

From the thimble-sized, light-duty ribbed anchors typically used to hang pictures, to the massive seismic-certified wedge anchors used to secure entire structures to concrete foundations, masonry anchors are designed specifically for fastening wood or metal elements to aggregate-based materials like cement, stone, or cinder block.

For the average DIY’er – as well as most tradesmen – anchors made specifically for hollow wall substrates and light-duty aggregates like plasterboard, brick or light concrete are usually more than stout enough for most jobs they’re likely to undertake … and have all the strength and corrosion-resistant qualities of their beefier, brawnier brethren.

Luckily, there are quite a few fastener types that fit the bill of suitability, and favourably, it also means that despite their attributes and benefits, you can rightfully expect them to be:

  • Acceptable for indoor or outdoor use;
  • Manufactured from high carbon steel, or 316 stainless steel;
  • Easy to install in pre-drilled holes;
  • Available in a broad range of anchor-head and drive screw head styles;
  • Rated to apply a positive grip that doesn’t weaken or destroy the substrate.

So, let’s take a look at this group of most consistently relied upon light-duty fasteners, and it should be easy to recognize why when it comes to masonry, wall anchors really aren’t as complicated as they seem.

The Heavyweights of Light-duty Anchors

When it comes to picking out which anchors are the true heavyweights of light-duty masonry; while the choices of manufacturers may be pretty lengthy, the choices about which types of hardware are best qualified to do the job couldn’t be much simpler.

Plasterboard Anchors

Made from nylon or zinc, plasterboard anchors (sometimes called drywall anchors) aren’t just the most common of masonry fasteners, they’re also the quickest and easiest to install … as well as to remove and reuse if desired. These anchors are installed simply by placing them against a plasterboard wall, and driving them directly into the substrate with a Phillips screwdriver. Their flush fixing and usability with almost any length of #6 or #8 screw makes them the cornerstone of versatile masonry anchors.

Plasterboard Anchors

Sleeved Hollow Wall Anchors

Used with a matching diameter hole that’s drilled into hollow material like plasterboard or brick, these zinc-plated or stainless steel anchors are a complete assembly consisting of a screw, a flat washer and a collapsing sleeve to wedge themselves against the rear of the substrate. Best used to maximum wall thicknesses of 38mm, these anchors are also known for their flush fitting and anti-rotation characteristics, and can be reused by inserting the screw partially into the anchor and hammering the drive screw head inward to re-expand the sleeve.

Sleeved Hollow Wall Anchors

Nylon Frame Anchors

Consisting of a permanent nylon sleeve and zinc-plated drive screw up to #24, these anchors are drilled flush and hammered countersunk into substrates like light concrete, hollow slab block or brick. Anti-rotation barbs on the sleeve prevent these anchors from spinning in their holes, and are suitable for anchor lengths up to 160mm.

Nylon Frame Anchors

Nylon Anchors

Differing from nylon frame anchors in being removable, these small diameter fasteners can also be used across a full range of solid and hollow substrates, are available in a range of sleeve head styles, and can be drilled to a depth of 75mm. Following the recommended drill diameter, these anchors expand when their drive screws are inserted, allowing the driver head to become flush with the sleeve head upon tightening. These anchors also boast drive screws that can be easily removed and reused.

Screw-In Anchors

These zinc-plated or mechanical galvanized drive screws are self-tapping and suitable for either solid or hollow concrete, brick or block. forged from hardened high-carbon steel and boasting flanged heads with serrated washer faces, these screws are designed to resist embedding or clamping into their fixing elements. Installation is as straightforward as drilling a hole of the recommended diameter to the correct depth, and letting the screw cut its own thread until firm. The 25° thread angle provides optimum holding capacity while their sawtoothed design allows prompt evacuation of the radiused debris … plus these anchors can be removed and broadly reused.

The Fastener Finale

As you can see, there’s no shortage of anchors to choose from when it comes to light-duty masonry and hollow wall fasteners – nor is there a need to be intimidated by what’s available.

As broad as the selections may be, however, a lot just depends on the job that needs to be performed. That means you always want to use the right masonry anchor for the job, and you always want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions concerning drilling diameters and torquing standards.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to speak with a retailer that has the broadest selection of screws, anchors and fastening hardware possible; and once they’re referred you to that one proper fastener for the job you have in mind, you’ll be amazed by what you’re able to accomplish.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.