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Thread: Hanging things off cinder block walls -- best method?

  1. #1
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    Hanging things off cinder block walls -- best method?

    I'm in the process of setting up a basement workshop. The workshop area is on the small side (20' x 10'), the walls are made of cinder block, and two of the walls are exterior walls. The house itself is at least 60 years old. I've painted the cinder block with Dry-Lok. I am now thinking about the best strategy for hanging things on the walls.

    I was thinking about attaching 2x2's or 2x4's to the cinder block with Tapcon screws and then 3/4 plywood to the 2x2's/2x4's, which would give me the most flexibility overall for hanging cabinets, tool racks, etc.

    I am hesitant to build a framing wall because I have read that due to the age of the house, it would be problematic to attach the floor plate to the concrete because of concrete brittleness, and because of the way that wires and pipe are running across the ceiling in my basement, attaching the top plate to the ceiling would also be problematic.

    What I don't know is how much stuff I can hang off the wall with the Tapcon-2x2-3/4" plywood system. Specifically, I'm worried about something like a lumber rack being too much of a load for a setup like this.

    Also, one of the exterior walls has always been a little damp, though I've never had real water in the basement. I've mediated the outside as much as I can, and the Dry-Lok has taken care of the rest. But should I be worried about screwing 2x material into a cinder block wall that used to be a little damp?

    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    My opinion Wilbur,

    If it is CINDER block you need to frame floor to cieling, avoid the

    wall entirely. If it is CONCRETE block you can use Tapcons in

    the joints and it will hold a ton. Thats a literal ton, not a figurative one.

    Per
    "all men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night....wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."
    T.E. Lawrence

  3. #3
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    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

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  4. #4
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    Can the ceiling joists carry some of the load? I would try and lose as little floor space as possible and think about french cleats and if possible the ceiling joists. But trust me when i say i have NO idea what I'm talking about

  5. #5
    As suggested on the other thread, regardless of the actual fasteners, put up rows of french cleats. Then you can move stuff around whenever you get the next inspiration. If you are like me, I seem to think my woodshop needs rearranging at least once a year.
    Eric in Denver

    There are only 3 kinds of people in this world -- those who can count, and those who can't.

    "Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes." --Author unknown

  6. #6
    We hung kitchen cabinets in our church on block walls. We tried drilling the holes with a conventional drill, the first hole took over 30 minutes. A friend stopped in and say our problem, he installed garage doors for a living and loaned us a Hilti Hammer drill. Holes took less than a minute. Take it from me if you have more than one hole to drill get a good Hilti Hammer drill and a number of bits to fit your tapcons. You'll also need a power driver with good torque and several properly sized sockets to fit the Tapcon head.

    The French CLeat idea sounds like a winner from where I sit.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Contribute

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Per Swenson
    My opinion Wilbur,

    If it is CINDER block you need to frame floor to cieling, avoid the

    wall entirely. If it is CONCRETE block you can use Tapcons in

    the joints and it will hold a ton. Thats a literal ton, not a figurative one.

    Per
    I'm thinking of doing something similar in my garage--is there a way to tell the difference other than drilling a test hole? Is one more typically used for a garage in the Northeast?

  8. #8
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    I have found one of the best anchors for these type of walls are expanding sleeve anchors. Toggle bolts also work pretty decent too as long as you use larger ones. If you have a Fastenal store nearby they carry literally 1000's of concrete anchors. Here is a link to a suggested fastener that they carry.

    http://www.itw-ramset.com/RH/dynabolt_prod01.asp

  9. #9
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    Drilling concrete block should be no problem for any hammer drill. Just make sure you use the right sized bit for the tapcons. Also take care when screwing in as the concrete can crumble and you end up stripping the "threads".

    Drilling into concrete walls is another story! I tried drilling into my Mom's exposed 45-yr old basement. Took forever and went through a couple bits just for 4-holes! Then proceeded to snap off several tapcons in the holes and had to re-drill.

  10. #10
    What Russ said! Drilling in is no biggie, but if you open the hole to much the tapcons will be loose. I've had it where I didn't strip the thread, but the whole was loose enough that the screw just kept spinning when I was trying to drive it in. Good luck.

    Dave
    Life is a gift, not a guarantee.

  11. #11
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    Wilbur,

    I have a basement shop that sounds very similar to yours, and it also shares the same issues as yours. Coincidentally, I'm currently installing shelving to help ease my cramped space.

    My shop is about 20 years old has cinder block walls which is the foundation system for my home. Although cinder block is not as strong as concrete block, it is still plenty strong to hang stuff from it. Here some of the things that I've learned over the years:

    1. I used either lead anchors with lag bolts, or tapcon screws to hang things. Lead anchors have superior holding power but may be overkill on some applications such as hanging pegboard backed with furring strips.

    2. When using tapcon screws, it is very important to use the correct size masonry bit. Make sure you drill the pilot hole as deep as the screw or deeper. Unlike drilling in wood, any holes in concrete/cinder block that are shallow will strip the screw.

    3. Buy the tapcon screws that have a small hex head instead of a phillips screw head. The hex head is much easier to drive with a hex socket attachment on a cordless drill.

    4. When drilling a hole in the cinder block, you will get black staining from the cinder block dust. Touchup paint may be required, or have a friend hold a vaccuum next to the hole as you drill it. Also, cinder block is fairly easy to drill. Just avoid a mortar joint. I used a 12V cordless drill with no problem eventhough I own a hammer drill.

    5. Store bought shelving systems can either be hanged by (a) hang the shelve standards from a top support bracket bolted into the sill plate [see illustration below], or (b) the standards can be attached directly into the cinder block wall with tapcon screws, or (3) the standards can go all the way to the floor. I used all three methods. The result is rock solid.

    6. Shelving systems are available at:
    a) Home Depot (Rubbermaid) which I was not impressed with;
    b) Lowes (Closetmaid) which are nicely made and decorative;
    c) John Sterling Corp which are a very heavy duty galvenized system available at Lee Valley, Amazon or McMaster-Carr.

    7. Covering up a block wall such that it cannot breathe may result in mold, mildew and effervescence on the wall and anything adjacent to it. Eventhough you used Dry-Lok (or ThoroSeal for me), the wall will eventually succumb to the moisture pushing thru it. I recommend keeping your cinder block wall exposed and accessible for future repairs.

    8. Drilling into concrete flooring that is over 50 years old is very difficult even using a Hilti hammer drill, or powder activated nail gun. When I finish part of my basement, we had a heck of a time doing this.

    9. Hanging cabinets using a french cleat is very good advice. I would lag bolt the cleat to the wall for maximium strenght. The french cleat also allows you to quickly remove the cabinets to inspect the wall for moisture penetration.

    cheers, Jeff


  12. #12
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    Wilbur,

    You have gotten some excellent advice here. I would like to add one suggestion: buy a hammer drill or a rotary hammer. I have a basement shop with poured concrete and conctrete block walls. I struggled with masonry bits in hand drills for years. I finally bit the bullet and bought a Bosch Bulldog 7/8" SDS rotary hammer for about $175 (the smallest one Bosch makes). It has proved to be one of the most useful power tools I own, not only in the shop, but anywhere else around the house where I need to drill into concrete, block, brick - or about anything else for that matter. I use it all the time. It goes through poured concrete like butter and it doesn't bat an eye at block or brick.

    There are two technologies for these things: Hammer Drills and Rotary Hammers. I don't know the technical difference, but the Bosch factory rep advised me to spend a little more and get a rotary hammer rather than a hammer drill. He said rotary hammers are more robust and will last longer. The price difference wasn't great and I've been very happy with my investment. I'm not pushing Bosch; lots of manufacturers make them. Since you're looking at drilling a lot of holes in your shop's block walls, I promise you would appreciate owning one of these tools.

    Hank

  13. #13
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    You mention that you painted the walls with DryLoc - if you have a water infiltration problem - you need to get that sorted out before you go punching holes in in the walls. That's a subject best handled by a professional (or a very skilled amature).

    I can't speak to how much weight it would hold - but in one house I lived in - I had to drywall an inside corner at the bottom of a staircase. The stairs were built so close to the wall - there was no space for studs. I used Liquid Nails to attach furring strips to the walls (bracing the strips while the adhesive set was sortof Keystone Kops meets This Old House) - but when the adhesive was set - I just hung the drywall with short screws. So far as I know - that wall has been there for 15 years and it's still going strong. I don't know that I'd hang a wall full of tools from it, however.

    bd

  14. #14
    I have cinder block walls in my basement shop and have gone with a french cleat system. The idea for my system was in FWW magazine a few years ago. By having cleats mounted at various points around the shop I am able to reorganize my wall storage as the shop evolves.
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