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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just another brick in the wall....

In my Seven Things post from yesterday, I noted that I can hang a sign in a brick wall. And in comments, Scott Spiegelberg asks how to do this. So, here's the procedure, for you handy-types:

The tools you will need are a power drill with screwdriver heads, a masonry drill bit, and masonry screws. I prefer the Tapcon brand -- these work very well. I use them at The Store not just to mount signs in the brick walls, but I also used them to fasten our flag braces to the outside wall of the building, and only one came down due to wind after being up almost a year (and that was on an extremely windy day by Buffalo standards). Make sure you match the drill bit size with the screw -- this is extremely important. If you drill too large a hole, the screw's double-helix thread system won't be able to cut the threading patterns into the sides of the hole. (If you do a lot of this sort of thing, it's worth buying the 100-count box of Tapcon screws, because the nice folks at Tapcon include a bit of the correct size in those boxes.)

So, using the masonry bit, first drill a hole into the brick or mortar. In my experience it's easier to drill into mortar than into brick, but there are times when that isn't an option. Start drilling slowly, and then increase the speed of the drill as the hole begins to deepen. The key is to be patient with the drilling; don't apply lots of pressure to the drill. Just let the bit do its work. If your drill is good enough, this should only take a few minutes. (At The Store, we use a DeWalt 14.4 volt drill.) Drill your hole to a depth that is at least 1/4 inch deeper than the screw.

When the hole is deep enough, remove the masonry bit from the drill and pop in the screwdriver head. (Tapcon screws come in either Philips head or hex heads.) Place the tip of the screw in the hole, and then just drive it right in. If you're hanging a sign from the screw using string, then leave the screw protruding by a quarter inch or so; otherwise, drive it in until it's flush. You shouldn't need to torque the screws in too tightly, because Tapcon screws actually cut their own threads into the walls of the hole, so unless your mortar or brick is very soft, the thing should not just pull out of the wall.

That's it. Besides having the right size masonry bit, the most important thing is to have a quality drill for this task. At The Store, we used to have a really bad drill before we bought the DeWalt, and this task could take up to forty minutes just to hang a simple sign that only needed a screw in each corner. Now I can do the same job in about fifteen minutes, tops. And what's nice about the Tapcon screws is that they're designed to go right into the concrete, so you don't have to pound in plastic wall-anchors.

So there you go!


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the simple and clear instructions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info! I wasn't sure if it was better to go into brick or the mortar. Now I know it really goes either way!