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Thread: Drilling concrete slab

  1. #1
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Default Drilling concrete slab

    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. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Are you using a hammer drill? Makes a huge difference. Powder activated nails are quick.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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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?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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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.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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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. #6
    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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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.
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    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    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.
    Master Plumber Mark:

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great advice. I'll buy me a hammer drill then and some lead sleeves.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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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. #10
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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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. #11
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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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.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  12. #12
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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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. #13
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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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.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  14. #14
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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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. #15
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Still sounds like a lot of work!

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