As a construction contractor, you may be asked to complete wide variety of tasks in order to complete a larger project. Some of those tasks may be very necessary but are just outside your area of expertise. For lots of contractors like you, that deficit between experience and necessity appears when it comes time to work with anchor bolts.
These specialized pieces of attachment hardware see regular use in many industrial settings. However, using them correctly requires some knowledge of their purpose, especially when it comes to transferring force.
In order to get you up to speed on these best practices, we’ve created this helpful guide. Herein, you’ll learn about the best times to use anchor bolts, as well as the proper method for installing basic anchor bolts into concrete, brick, and drywall surfaces.
When Should You Use Anchor Bolts?
The proper times to use an anchor bolt actually lies right in its name.
In essence, whenever you want to anchor down a large object (such as an industrial appliance or machine), you should make full use of a set of anchor bolts. This can be done in several ways, including setting the bolt in fresh concrete or drilling the bolt down into an established surface material, such as brick or drywall.
In any case, anchor bolts are designed as a mostly permanent solution to securing a large object.
While anchor bolts may be removed if necessary, they are designed to keep an object in place against a great amount of force and horizontal sheer. So, be sure to keep this in mind when deciding whether anchor bolts are appropriate for your upcoming installation project.
How to Use Anchor Bolts
Here is just one method for utilizing an anchor bolt to secure a large object.
This method covers “post-installed” anchor bolts, which can be installed into existing concrete, brick, or drywall surfaces. This differs from “cast-in-place” anchor bolts, which are primarily set into wet concrete before it dries out.
Step 1: Acquire Materials and Prepare Site
Before beginning any drilling or bolt insertion, you’ll need to acquire all of the materials necessary to complete this task. This includes picking an anchor bolt type and size that is appropriate for securing your target object. Besides this, you’ll also need a hammer drill, a masonry drill bit, a piece of chalk, and a Shop-Vac.
With these items in hand, you should start by positioning your target object at its desired location. Then, using your chalk, mark on the floor where you intend to drill in your anchors. These should be as precise as possible to ensure that your anchors can perform properly when it comes to transferring sheer force.
Before proceeding further, it is also recommended that you wear ear and mouth protection. This is because the process of drilling masonry materials can throw up dust and debris that can irritate your eyes and lungs easily.
Step 2: Drill Insertion Point
Once you’ve marked your intended insertion point, you can mount your chosen masonry drill bit into your hammer drill.
Then, you’ll want to line up the tip of the bit with your intended insertion point. From there, you can begin to slowly drill into the masonry surface while increasing your speed after breaking the surface. Be sure to control your drill while it is in motion to prevent an uneven bore and to prevent its bit from boring too deep.
Once you’ve drilled out a hole, you’ll want to clear it of any remaining debris. A Shop-Vac is best suited for this job, though it can also be done with water in some cases.
If you need more help with this step, read my guide on using hammer drills.
Step 3: (If Necessary) Insert Sheath or Base
Depending on the type of anchor bolt you’ve chosen, you may need to insert a sheath or anchor support system into your newly bored hole before bolting down your target object.
Each anchor support system works a little differently, so it is best to follow the instructions that came with those bolts to achieve a desirable outcome.
In all cases, ensure that your anchor bolt sheath is fully flush with the floor before proceeding.
Step 4: Insert Bolt and Secure
Now that your anchor point is prepared, you can align your target object over the hole.
At this point, you should ensure that all anchor points are aligned up to their attachment points on the target object. Once this is done, you can begin inserting and tightening down your chosen anchor bolts. As you do this, your target object should become more stable.
Depending on the manner in which your target object is going to be used, you may need to test if it has been adequately secured.
However, this should only be done with qualified assistance on hand to prevent personal injury.
Using Anchor Bolts with Different Materials
The process described above is suitable for most general uses of anchor bolts. However, each standard masonry material presents different challenges when it comes to utilizing this type of hardware. Described below are some special considerations associated with using anchor bolts in concrete, brick, and drywall.
Concrete & Bricks
When it comes to drilling into concrete and bricks for the purpose of installing an anchor bolt, the process is effectively the same as described above. However, when working with bricks, all drilling should be done cautiously to prevent them from losing their structural integrity.
Also, concrete presents the unique opportunity to use a special kind of anchor bolt known as a cast-in-place anchor bolt.
These bolts are anchored into a concrete slab while it is still wet. As a result, the structure of these bolts is more permanent and often more sturdy. If you are planning on building a space from scratch, you may consider using this kind of anchor bolt to adequately secure your target objects.
Setting anchor bolts in a drywall surface is not challenging and can be done without any specialized tools.
Most standard drill bits can work through drywall with ease, which allows space for a sheath or anchor support to be inserted with a hammer. From there, an anchor bolt can be inserted with ease and tightened down as desired.
However, if you are able to access the space behind drywall with ease, you may be able to utilize several special kinds of anchor bolts. These include toggle bolts, which can distribute the pressure placed on the anchor bolt more effectively.
Some toggle bolts can even be inserted through the bored hole, which eliminates the need for rear-side access.
Once you get down to it, using an anchor bolt isn’t too difficult – even if you are planning to attach your target object to concrete, brick, or drywall.
In the end, this process comes down to choosing the right kind of anchor bolt and then installing them in accordance with their practical method of application. So long as you take your time and plan ahead, you should have no problems utilizing anchor bolts going forward.