How to attach wood to a concrete wall?

How to attach wood to a concrete wall?

Johann a TV mounting Technician and Editor
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Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Johann Holsinger

Concrete and wood can be difficult materials to work with, especially when you need to use them both together.

Have you ever found a rotten wood-to-concrete joint in your home left behind by previous owners?

Or maybe you’ve had a go at attaching wood to concrete using adhesive and ended up with a mess on your hands? There are steps to take to separate wood and concrete to avoid trapped moisture and rot and to make sure there is a strong secure connection.

Selecting the best wood to attach to a concrete wall

Using hardwood like oak or ash is the best way to attach wood to concrete for outdoor use because hardwood is denser and lasts longer than softwood in the elements; most hardwoods have natural preservatives to resist rot and decay.

Softwoods like pine are commonly used indoors and can also be attached to concrete but not outdoors without treatment.

Most softwoods and some hardwoods should be treated [1] before attaching to concrete and separated using (DPC) a thin strip of plastic or bitumen.

Concrete loses moisture gradually over time and can condensate meaning attached wood not separated can naturally absorb this which can lead to rot.

Mounting plate over concrete wall

Selecting the right fastener

Threaded rods are long metal rods with no tip or head that can be cut to your required length. Mostly used as anchor bolts, hangers, U-bolts, and clamps.

Plastic wall plugs are designed to sit snugly in drilled masonry holes and will hold a screw securely in place by expanding and clamping when a screw is inserted. Each type of fastener comes in several sizes depending on the size of screw you need to hold.

Masonry bolts like Dyna bolts or Trubolts are heavy-duty steel screws that are strong enough to be inserted into pre-drilled concrete holes and are fastened by expanding when being tightened to the sides of a concrete drilled hole.

Toggle bolts or butterfly anchors are fasteners used for hanging objects on hollow walls. This type of fixture features wings that expand inside a hollow wall to hold the fastener securely.

Here’s more wall fastening guide.

Bolted post to concrete

Selecting the right tools

  • Concrete nailer – a concrete nailer or a concrete nail gun is a powerful tool that is used to hammer nails into concrete.
  • Cordless drill – a battery-operated or wireless drill that usually has drilling and hammering capabilities, although is not as strong as tools designed specifically for these jobs like SDS or Dyna drills.
  • Dyna drill – a Dyna drill is a two-handed power tool that combines a hammer and drill in one easy-to-use machine.
  • Impact wrench – a tool designed for easy loosening of lug nuts but can also be used for hammering in large screws into pre-drilled concrete and timber.
  • Crescent set – a complete fastening tool kit for coach screws, nuts, and bolts.
  • Tape measure – to accurately measure lengths.
  • Laser level – the next-gen of spirits level, laser levels create a straight line across your wall. Some can even measure straight lines around corners.    

Crescent wrenches for fastening bolts and nuts

Concrete drilling concrete and wood

Attaching different woodcuts to concrete

1. Wooden fixing point to concrete (TVs, artwork, etc.)

If you’re putting your TV or hanging artwork on a concrete wall you may want to add a wooden fixing point.

Attach wooden beams or a sheet of plywood to concrete using sleeve anchors or raw plugs and screws. You can then attach your TV to a plywood plate or beams as normal.

Wooden beam for mounting TV

2. Wooden shelf supports

Shelves need to take a lot of weight, especially when you go to mount speakers up on the wall.

Adding wooden shelf supports can provide extra support. Drill a hole in the wall and use a sleeve anchor to hold each screw in place.

Floating wooden shelf

3. Wood-furring strips

Furring strips are thinner strips of wood that can be attached to concrete walls and function to create a gap for larger sheets of wood or planks or for mounting hardware.

The gap created by furring stip creates a space between the concrete and sheet of wood for better ventilation to stop wood decay and allows for more secure mounting without bumps in the concrete causing twisting or rocking in your hardware.

4. Wooden baseboard

Wooden baseboards or skirting can be attached to concrete using masonry nails or screws.

Use a countersink bit to push the screw below the surface of the skirting board. This can then be filled in to hide the screw.

5. Rail posts

Attaching a wooden post or rails to concrete steps is easier than you think. For a post, if you use a post bracket.

Drill holes into the concrete and tap a masonry bolt into each hole with a hammer. You can also use long Trubolts.

Or threaded rod if you can get to the other side of a concrete beam.

6. Handrails

For rails, use small stainless steel Dyna bolts or Trubolts to hold the handrail ends “firmly” into a concrete wall side.

7. Wood paneling

If you’re looking to revamp a concrete wall with wood paneling, you will first need to attach wooden furring strips (see above).

With the furring strips in place, you can place your paneling easily over the strips and screw boards into the firing strips with standard wood screws.

The firing strips should be thick enough to accommodate the brad pins or screws you will use to install the timber panels or the tongue and groove.

You can connect the strips with a combination of construction adhesive, and small concrete anchors.

Wooden panels on concrete

How to attach wood to concrete using heavy-duty concrete anchors?

Trubolts

Drill pilot holes into the concrete and the wood you want to attach at the same time.

Vacuum or use pressurized air to clear the hole of any dust and debris.

Place the Trubolt® anchor into the hole with the top bolt still attached and drive a hammer on the end to insert the bolt.

Leave enough of the anchor above the concrete surface to go through the wood you want to attach.

Remove the top bolt and place the piece of wood over the top. Add a washer and replace the bolt.

Tighten the bolt with a wrench.

Additionally, you can drill through the timber and the concrete at the same time.

Dyna bolts

Drill pilot holes into the concrete and wood using the appropriate drill bits.

Line up the hole in the piece of wood with the hole in the concrete.

Place the Dyna bolt into the hole and gently hammer the end until the bolt is sitting hard down on the timber with some clearance for a washer and a nut.

Screw the top of the bolt with a wrench. The Dyna bolt will expand out at the bottom of the concrete to create a strong grip on the sides of the concrete hole.

How to attach wood to concrete using plastic plugs

Measure out where you need to make holes on the concrete wall and wood and mark with a pencil.

Drill holes through the wood using a suitable wood drill bit.

Drill pilot holes into the concrete that are slightly deeper than the plastic wall plug.

Insert the plastic wall plug and gently hammer the plug into the drilled hole until the plastic end is flush with the surface of the concrete.

You can now securely attach the wood to the wall using a screw.

Hammered concrete wall plugs

How to attach wood to a brick wall?

If you have a brick wall with no concrete or studs behind, you may need to add your own support over the brick. Drill holes into the brick with a concrete drill bit.

Make corresponding holes in a wooden beam with a wood drill bit. Attach the wood beams to the brick face with a masonry bolt or other concrete screw.

Attaching wooden beam to a concrete

How and when to use a concrete nailer?

A concrete nailer or nail gun is a powerful tool used to fasten nails into concrete.

This can’t be done with a hammer you need high tensile pins and explosive force to drive a nail into concrete or steel.

  1. Load the nail into the gun.
  2. Insert the power load into the chamber.
  3. Position the nailer at a 90-degree angle to your work material.
  4. Pull the trigger.

Gauge finishing nailer attaching wood trims

How and when to use a cordless drill?

A cordless drill is a wireless electric drill that can drill into harder materials like concrete or wood with a masonry bit.

  1. Rotate the chuck sleeve in an anticlockwise direction.
  2. Insert the masonry drill bit and rotate the chuck sleeve clockwise until you hear a click.
  3. Drill into the concrete. Only suitable for smaller holes.

Using cordless drill to attach wood to concrete

How and when to use a Dyna drill?

Two-handed Dyna drills are most often used for light-to-medium demolition or shaping of concrete, masonry, asphalt, and similar materials.

And Dyna drills can also drill holes in concrete for anchors when hammer drilling is selected instead of straight hammering next to the handle.

How to attach wood to a concrete block wall using a Dyna drill?

Ensure you have set the drill and selected the correct bit for the job.

Apply steady, even pressure to the surface. Don’t force anything otherwise you could damage your drill bit.

Before you are close to breaking through, or you have reached the required depth for the bolt reduce pressure and allow the drill bit to stop.

Run the drill in reverse for a bit, and push the tool down and out repetitively from the hole, this will help to remove concrete dust.

You can use black tape around the drill bit so that you know the correct depth to drill.

Close up drilling of wood to concrete

When and how to use an impact wrench?

An impact wrench is useful when you need strong torque to loosen or drive nuts, bolts, and timber screws.

Select the correct socket that suits the drive on the impact wrench.

Close up attaching wood to concrete with air impact wrench

What to watch out for: My extra tips

  • Start drilling at the lowest speed for better control.
  • Always wear safety goggles when drilling concrete.
  • Apply light pressure and don’t force the drill.
  • Don’t overtighten any screws or fastenings as this will only make the mounting weaker and break the expansion mechanism.
  • If you are firing nails directly into concrete don’t shoot the points in at an angle as this can be dangerous and crack the concrete also.

Drilling wood beams to concrete

You just have to get the tools needed ready.

It’s easy to get confused about all the different types of screws and tools needed to attach wood to concrete.

But after this rundown, you now will know how to join wood to concrete to feel more confident about tackling those DIY projects you’ve been putting off until now.

More information:

  1. Pressure-treated wood code requirements at home, a guide from https://www.thespruce.com/pressure-treated-wood-code-requirements-1822480

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Johann Holsinger portrait

Hi, my name is Johann Holsinger, here at mountyourbox.com I share all of the tips and tricks I have professionally learned to help you set up your ultimate home entertainment system.