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Installing Tapcon Masonry Screws: Step-by-Step Instructions

For many homeowners, landscapers, and businesses, keeping their lawn healthy, green, and mowed is a primary goal for their landscaping. Other homeowners cultivate homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs. And others nurture all manner of plants and shrubberies and flowers.

No matter what your goal is for your yard, one thing is certain. You’re going to need water—and you’re going to need a hose.

Hose reels come in many styles, from the utilitarian to the decorative. Fastening a hose reel to an exterior brick or concrete slab means that hose will always be where you need it to be, and won’t risk being run over by a car or cluttering the yard.

To fasten a hose reel to brick, as with many other projects, a Tapcon masonry screw may be the fastener of choice.

Tapcon Masonry Screws

Tapcon masonry screws are made for light duty fastening. They are manufactured with special threads that will thread into a predrilled hole in masonry material, such as concrete, concrete block, and brick.

These screws embed into the material by “tapping” the threads through the material surrounding the hole. The tapping of the threads into installation materials requires the threads to be properly cut. Removing the dust and debris from the hole is essential in achieving proper installation. 

1. Get ready to install

  • Before a Tapcon masonry screw can be installed, a hole must be drilled into the masonry.  
  • Use a hammer drill to ensure that the hole has the proper tolerance.
  • The switch on the hammer drill must be in the hammer and rotation mode before starting to drill. The hammer motion breaks up the masonry material and the rotation removes the dust from the hole.
  • Use the proper sized carbide tipped bit.
  • Make sure that the bit meets ANSI standards. This will ensure the hole meets proper hole tolerance. 
  • The carbide bit diameter required for the 3/16” screw is 5/32”. For the 1/4” screw a 3/16” carbide tipped bit must be used.
  • Hole tolerance is critical; using the correct diameter ANSI standard bit with a hammer drill will ensure proper hole size allowing the Tapcon screw to achieve desired holding strength.
  • Determine the correct length of screw to use should before installation. The minimum length screw to use for any specific application is determined by adding the thickness of the material being fastened to the minimum embedment of 1 inch. The maximum length of screw to use is determined by adding the thickness of the material being fastened to 1-3/4 inches.

2. Drill a hole to the proper depth

  • Drilling the hole to the proper depth is critical. 
  • Set the depth gauge provided with the hammer drill to the required depth. If a depth gauge is not available, wrap tape around the bit at the correct embedment depth.
  • When setting the depth gauge or using tape, make sure that the bit is in the most protracted position in the chuck. 
  • The minimum depth of embedment for the Tapcon screw is 1 inch, and the maximum embedment is 1-3/4 inch. 
  • The depth of the hole should be drilled to allow a minimum space at the bottom of the hole of 1/2 inch.  
  • The minimum depth of the hole equals 1 inch plus 1/2 inch or 1-1/2” inches.
  • The maximum hole depth equals 1-3/4 inch plus 1/2 inch or 2-1/4 inches.

3. Prepare the hole for installation

  • Before inserting the screw, clean the hole of all dust and debris that was created during the drilling process.
  • Use a wire brush that is the same diameter as the hole.
  • Use a twisting, turning, and up and down motion with the brush. Vacuum the hole, and repeat.
  • Compressed air can be used to clear the hole of all dust, but this creates a lot of dust in the air and may not be suitable for all situations.

5. Install the Tapcon

  • Insert the screw through the fixture and into the predrilled hole in the concrete. 
  • With a rotation drill, drive the screw slowly into the hole. Very little pressure is required. 
  • With the flat head Phillips, a #2 driver is required for the 3/16-inch screw and a #3 driver is needed for the 1/4-inch. 
  • The 3/16” hex head is installed with a 1/4-inch hex driver and the 1/4-inch uses a 5/16” driver.  

Helpful tips

  • Do not over torque the Tapcon, as this may cause it to spin in the hole, which causes the holding value to be lost. Turning the screw by hand the last couple of revolutions can help to prevent this situation.
  • During installation, make sure that the anchor is tight against the surface of the material being fastened. This can be accomplished by turning the screw by hand the last couple of turns.
  • Be cautious of head shearing. Head shearing is cause by any combination of these factors:
  • The hole was not drilled deep enough; the masonry screw is bottoming out in the hole. Drill the hole deeper.
  • The hole was not cleaned out and the debris is filling up the hole, the anchor is bottoming out in the hole. Clean out the hole.
  • Too much torque is being applied. Turn the screw by hand the last couple of revolutions.
  • The base material is so hard that the bit is wearing out and the hole is getting smaller. Try for a shallower embedment or use a different type of fasteners such as a hammer drive anchor or split drive anchor.
  • The embedment depth is too deep for the base material. Try using a shorter anchor.