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I am adding shelves to my basement and I need to mount 2x6 to basement concrete.

I asked one of Home Depot folks and he suggested to use Tapcon as the most optimal option. He explained that a concrete nailer could be much more expensive.

I expect Tapcon screws are my lowest cost option. I wanted to post my question here and learn about my options.

Are there any other easier and cost effective options for mounting a 2x6 to concrete?

  • This seems like it might be a more appropriate question for DIY.SE. – Doresoom Dec 23 '15 at 15:13
  • @Doresoom, you are right. I did not know about DIY. How can I move this question there? – Allan Xu Dec 23 '15 at 20:22
  • Drill a hole in the concrete with a concrete bit the same size as the nail and drill a hole where you want it in the 2x6. Then drive a cut nail with a piece of tie wire in the hole. This will drive it right in and hold well. – John S Mar 8 '19 at 16:34
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If you have a hammer drill, then use tapcon. If you don't, then you're going to have to buy or rent tools anyway, and the decision isn't clear. Cost is largely a wash if you don't already have the appropriate tools for one or the other. Time is different, though. Drilling holes and then screwing in screws is much more time consuming than simply shooting a nail. The biggest advantage for screws, though, is that they can generally be removed if needed later. Nails can be too, but they may chip or spall the concrete, or you may have to cut them off and grind them down flush with the concrete later if you decide to remove the item they are attaching.

With screws you can use a regular drill and a concrete bit, but the bit wears down quickly and the drill proceeds slowly. If you have very few fasteners, though, this can be the most cost effective option. If you have many fasteners you'll want to rent a hammer drill, which works with the concrete drill bit to drill significantly more quickly and easily.

Chances are good that a cheap drill will have difficulty driving the concrete screw in, though. Again, a strong drill or a hammer drill improves the experience here, but isn't necessary. If you use the hex-head screws you can use a socket set to drive them in, and again is a cheaper option to buying a new drill if you aren't doing very many of them.

With nails the work goes very quickly. The powder actuated nailer isn't terribly expensive to buy or rent (cheaper than the hammer drill) but the consumables (powder and nails) are more expensive than the screws per fastener. However, you can't beat the speed you can attach something with. If you're doing many fasteners and don't have a hammer drill, being able to nail in the boards quickly allows you to move forward in your project.

Nails can cause problems, particularly in substandard concrete. If the concrete is soft, or has evidence of spalling or a lot of cracking, you should probably shy away from nails. You also have to make some decisions in the blind - without knowing how hard the concrete is you have to try a few different size powder charges to find the one that drives the nail to the correct depth.

And, again, if you believe there's a good chance someone will want to undo what you've done, screws can be slightly more forgiving in terms of removing them from the concrete and using that area in other ways. Nails are hardly a deal breaker, but they can complicate removal later.

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Are there any other easier and cost effective options for mounting a 2x6 to concrete?

Tapcon screws will be your easiest and cheapest means to mount a 2x6 to a concrete floor, by far. They will require a hammer drill to drill the holes in the concrete, but you can rent one from the store if you don't have one.

You could also use concrete expansion anchors too. However, these are quite a bit more expensive than Tapcons. They do have a lot more holding power, though.

They have an expansive sleeve that's threaded with a bolt you tighten, which causes the sleeve to bear on the concrete hole in friction. These are used quite often in industrial applications where heavy loads are present.

enter image description here source

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  • Adding: Careful not to over tighten tapcons they can strip out softer concrete pretty easily (they're especially easy to over tighten in brick). – Jason C Dec 21 '15 at 4:37
  • Thanks @grfrazee, What size of tapcon do you think would be adequate for supporting 2x6 and the shelf load? – Allan Xu Dec 21 '15 at 23:17
  • I can't really answer that not knowing what kind of load you're expecting, unfortunately. – grfrazee Dec 22 '15 at 0:49
  • You can check out the performance tables at Tapcon's web site. You will need to know the substrate material (cinder block or solid concrete) and the shear values (not the same as "weight of stuff on the shelf"). Note: if this is a support going on the floor then those values are irrelevant for a typical home shelf, as the Tapcon is there to keep the 2x6 from sliding around. If you are wall-mounting a shelf ledge then the math gets a little more... mathy. – user285 Jan 4 '16 at 23:56
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I'm not sure if this is cheaper in the long term but consider using adhesive, it's certainly the easiest option since you just apply, press the board into position and wait for the glue to cure.

Construction adhesive and epoxy are both viable here, as long as the concrete surface is in good condition, not friable and dust-free. With epoxy in particular you do want to be quite sure of the position of your 2x6 since moving it would be somewhat difficult :-)

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  • Interesting idea. Considering that I will be putting heavy stuff on my shelves, would adhesive be able to hold the load? – Allan Xu Dec 21 '15 at 23:15
  • Would you be bale to share a link to such adhesive on Homedepot website? – Allan Xu Dec 21 '15 at 23:15
  • @AllanXu, re. being able to handle the expected load it would depend on the load, the direction of the forces. Mostly downward (pressing a board down onto the concrete of a floor)? No problem at all. A lot of sideways force, and sustained? That could also be OK (especially with epoxy rather than construction adhesive) but then the specifics begin to matter more. – Graphus Dec 22 '15 at 13:07
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If you want the wood to be mounted permanently you can use a ramset and wood fastening bolts. Pretty cheap and extremely fast. Its like shooting a gun, bam! bam! bam! You're done.

If you value your money much more than your time, I would use ordinary masonry anchors because that will be the cheapest option.

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They have drill bits you can use in a regular drill for concrete. Not expensive at all. Then buy some cut nails and tie wire. The bit should be slightly smaller than the cut nail. Drill the hole through the board into the concrete and then cut yourself a piece of wire. Stick the wire in the hole so you have extra coming out like a couple inches. Then drive the cut nail and it won't come out. Good Luck!

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