The Easiest and Best Way to Attach 2x4s to a Concrete Slab

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The easiest way to attach a 2-by-4 to concrete is with a power nailer. This is best for applications such as attaching a stud wall to a concrete floor. For shelving on a wall, you'll want to use a concrete screw. Structural applications do best with a concrete lag sleeve and lag bolt. Choosing the right method for the job is important because you don't want the fastener to fail at the wrong time.

Things You'll Need

  • Power nailer
  • Yellow and green power loads
  • 2 1/2-inch power nails
  • Hammer drill
  • Drill bits
  • 3-inch concrete screws
  • Lag shields
  • Lag bolts

Power Nails

  • Place the 2-by-4 where you want it. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection.

  • Insert the head of a power nail into the power nailer barrel. Push the nail into the barrel until the tip is just inside the end of it.

  • Slide the barrel away from the handle to open the chamber. Look inside the chamber to see the small hole the same diameter as a power load. Insert a green power load into the hole and slide the barrel toward the handle to close the chamber.

  • Press the barrel against the face of the 2-by-4 at least 6 inches from the end of the board and press down, causing the barrel to slide closer to the handle. Pull the trigger. The power load will fire and drive the nail through the wood and into the concrete. Place one power nail every 16 to 24 inches to hold the 2-by-4 to the concrete.

Concrete Screws

  • Place the 2-by-4 where you want it. Install the drill bit that came with the concrete screws into the hammer drill. Set the hammer drill for normal drilling and drill through the 2-by-4.

  • Switch the drill to hammer mode and drill into the concrete. Make the hole 2 inches deep. When the screw cuts the concrete as it drives through it, the concrete dust is pushed into the hole, requiring extra space at the bottom of the hole. Concrete screws should penetrate the concrete at least 1 1/2 inches.

  • Install the screwdriver bit that came with the concrete screws into the drill. Set the drill to normal drilling mode. Place a screw in the hole in the 2-by-4, set the drill bit into the end of the screw and drive the screw through the board and into the concrete.

Concrete Lag Sleeves and Bolts

  • Drill holes in the 2-by-4 for each lag bolt along the middle of the 2-by-4 no closer than 2 inches from the ends. Spacing depends on the application, but 12 to 18 inches apart fits many purposes. Check local building codes to find out what is required in your area.

  • Hold the 2-by-4 against the concrete where you want it. Insert a hammer drill bit into each hole and tap it lightly with a hammer to mark the hole locations in the concrete. Remove the board from the concrete.

  • Install the correct size of drill bit for the lag shields into the drill and set the drilling mode to hammer drill. Drill into the concrete at each location just a little deeper than the length of the lag shield.

  • Insert a lag shield into each hole and tap into place with a hammer. Place the 2-by-4 against the wall and insert a lag bolt into each hole. Drive the lag bolt into the lag shield, using a ratchet and socket.

Tips & Warnings

  • The safety on the power nailer is the deactivated when you press the barrel against the board and the barrel is pushed back toward the handle. Opening the chamber also cocks the firing pin to make it ready to shoot.
  • If the power nail does not go all the way into the 2-by-4, switch to the yellow loads. If the plastic spacer is tight against the wood, the fastener is deep enough. The head may stand up 1/8 inch or a little more above the wood.
  • The power nailer is a gun that shoots nails using gunpowder. It is not a toy. Treat the power nailer like a gun and never point it at anyone or try to defeat the safety mechanism. Only use the power nailer to nail lumber to concrete or steel.

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References

  • Home Improvement 1-2-3; The Home Depot
  • Decks 1-2-3: The Home Depot
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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