Drilling concrete slab

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Ian Gills, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    I am remodelling my basement and fixing metal stud framing around the exterior wall area. I am using screws.

    This is all going fine except drilling into the concrete slab to fit the trough using anchors and tapcons is proving difficult.

    I have tried using concrete drill bits and even ones for granite but on some areas a single hole will dull an entire bit.

    Is there an easier way to do this that will save me cash on going through drill bits?

    I do not want to use nails though (or is this why people use nails?).
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Are you using a hammer drill? Makes a huge difference. Powder activated nails are quick.
  3. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    No, I am using an ordinary drill. I thought hammer drills were really only effective on more porous materials like brick or mortar?
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I must admit I don't use that many tapcons, but I have used a box or two, and with a hammer drill, into concrete, it's like drilling into hardwood...goes pretty fast. Just rotating will create lots of heat and ruin the bit quickly in concrete.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    A small rotary/hammer drill costs around $100 or so. The use SDS bits which are quite reasonably priced and will drill holes in concrete like gangbusters. When I need to attach something to concrete, I drill the hole then insert a lead sleeve. Then a sheet metal screw through the object being attached and into the sleeve. I've tried Tapcons, but I had the same problems it sounds like you are having. They are hard to drive.
  6. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

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    Tapcons work great, but you MUST drill the hole properly and use the proper bit. And of course, the longer the screw you are trying to use, the more difficult this method becomes.


    As far as securing to concrete, my experience is:

    A regular drill + standard masonry bit will work ok on brick, but terrible on concrete.

    A hammer drill + standard masonry bit will work ok on cement, but drilling is slow and the bits wear out quickly.

    A rotary hammer drill + SDS bit will drill holes in concrete very fast and the bits hold up well.

    A powder actuated nail gun will secure nails fast and easily, however it takes experience to be able to use one effectively so that the material gets snugged down securely and the chance of blowout is minimal. I prefer this method over all others for framing, especially since the nails I shoot have washers on them to increase surface area of the nail head.
  7. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Someone steered you backwards, Ian. Brick and mortar is porous, so you don't need a hammerdrill. It helps, but a rotary will get you by (as long as you don't let the bit overheat). In concrete, the hammer action is an absolute necessity. You must be so frustrated by now! Just the thought...

    Get a hammerdrill. You won't regret it.


    ...Grab some lead sleeve anchors while you're at it. Much more user-friendly, and more effective, than tapcons.
  8. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Thanks for all the great advice. I'll buy me a hammer drill then and some lead sleeves.
  9. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Just to add a note to the hammer drill purchase. These usually come with an small assortment of chisels and several bits. Additional bits are not at all expensive and wear very well. I wouldn't want to do a major demolition job with one of these, but I find mine to be very useful every now and again. I've drilled holes in concrete from 1/4" to 1/2" and broken out larger holes in concrete with the chisels.
  10. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Well I bought the rotary hammer drill (which I have learnt is not the same as just a hammer drill) and some SDS bits. The holes are a lot easier to drill now and the bits are lasting.

    The lead sleeves are working well too!

    It's just a shame I had to use the more traditional approach on the last two walls. Nevermind, there is lots more to do.
  11. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

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    I think that you are doing more work than is necessary. First, try driving masonry nails into the concrete with a hammer. This will work depending on how hard the concrete is(sometimes it works great for me, other times the cement is so hard it doesn't work it's way in) If that doesn't work, then use the power guns with bullets. If the nail goes down halfway, just put another bullet and hold the gun over the half driven nail, after the second bullet it should go down all the way.

    Drilling and putting anchors I think is the worst way to do it.
  12. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    But it is so easy to correct mistakes or pull down.

    You should see the trouble I have had removing the nails from the last attempt at putting stud framing up (a previous owner, twenty or so years ago, studs here and there). I needed a crow bar to get some of those things out. And it damaged the concrete too.

    Nothing beats the craftsmanship of screws and, for those us that have time, a rotary drill. I'm cheating enough using a rotary hammer!

    Plus I am using metal framing....
  13. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

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    If you have it in mind to reverse the work then screws are definitely the better choice. I thought these were going to be permanent walls.

    The nails drom the power guns don't usually grab so good to the concrete. I usually don't have much trouble just tugging on them with the back of the hammer.

    Here in New York, they build what they call pressure walls. They are temporary and the don't use any screws or fasteners. They just build them snug against the floor and ceiling. Then they could dismantle them without leaving any damage to the floors or ceilings.
  14. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

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    Glad to hear you bought a rotary hammer instead of a hammer drill because the latter is useless IMO. Screws and lags is a very slow appoach. I would suggest that if you want to drill, then assemble the stud to the floor with metal "hits" which is faster and you won't have to fuss with alignment issues.
  15. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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  16. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Ramsets often don't grab in well-cured concrete, the way they do in fresh.

    Also - he's not a pro - when is he ever gonna need a ramset again? A hammerdrill will get used for other things, inevitably, eventually.
  17. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

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    I bought one of these on a job last month ... the ramset model I used has the charges in a plastic strip instead of loose. I find these are very consistant going into block but going into cured concrete is a crapshoot. Going into a floor is not that critical and would have worked fine ... then ebey when done.
  18. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    I am in Key West at the moment enjoying the sun.

    But I maintain that screws and anchors are the way to do this in the spirit of craftmanship.

    I am approaching a gas pipe that runs the length of one wall across the basement ceiling. It is positioned about 5 inches from the wall which means I have a choice.

    I can either box it in behind the stud wall (which would mean I could not access it) or in front of the wall but cover it behind the suspended ceiling.

    Which is better? I either lose access and a little square footage, or maintain access but lose some ceiling height.
  19. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

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    Number one, I don't believe you are allowed to bury the pipe behind the stud wall. Second, 5" is a lot of room to waste. Definitely build the wall against the foundation and build a soffit to cover the pipe. Then if you have to make a repair or replace the pipe it's much easier to get to.

    Rerouting the pipe is also an option if it's bothering a lot. More time and money, but you are already investing a lot of time and money to finish the basement. See if there's another path for the pipe.
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