How to Use Tapcon Screws

Written by michael logan
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How to Use Tapcon Screws
Fasten anything to concrete with Tapcon screws. (Photo by Steve Collar, Illustration by MJ Logan)

Attaching anything to concrete used to be difficult and time-consuming, and required either using power-driven nails or drilling large, deep holes for anchors and bolts. Tapcon screws are specially designed to cut into concrete, block or brick. Unlike power nails or anchor systems, they bite into the concrete and require a relatively small starting hole. Standard Tapcon screws come in blue or stainless steel, and the exact bits needed for the holes are supplied in the packaging.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Tapcon screws and bits
  • Hammer drill / driver
  • Material to be fastened to concrete
  • Standard drill bits (optional)
  • Tapcon tool kit (optional)
  • Screwdriver, sockets and driver (optional)
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select a Tapcon screw in the size, head type and length required for the job. Length is determined by the thickness of the material being fastened to the concrete. See the illustration.

    How to Use Tapcon Screws
    Choose the right screw for the job.
  2. 2

    Mark the spot where the Tapcon screw is to be installed. Remember that large-diameter (3/8-inch and larger) screws can only be installed in concrete or cement block, not brick or mortar.

  3. 3

    Install the special Tapcon bit that came with the screws in the hammer drill according to the instructions provided with your particular drill. Turn the hammer feature off to start the hole.

  4. 4

    Hold the drill bit against the material in the place marked previously. Turn the bit slowly to get the hole started.

  5. 5

    Drill a hole for the Tapcon screw. Switch the drill to hammer mode and drill a hole at least 1 inch deeper than the screw will be embedded. The extra hole space is required in order to hold the dust the screw will dislodge as it creates its own threads in the hole.

  6. 6

    Drill a hole into the material to be fastened. Use a bit just large enough to allow the screw to pass through easily. Skip this step if the object already has a hole or holes in it to be used for fastening.

  7. 7

    Drive a screw through the object being fastened into the hole just drilled. Use the driver feature of your drill with a bit of the proper type such as Phillips or hex. As the screw nears the end, use a properly sized screwdriver or socket to make the final turns and tighten the screw.

Tips and warnings

  • If the object being fastened to the wall or floor has fastening holes in it, selecting the proper sized screw is easy. Just choose the largest size that fits in the hole easily.
  • Use hex-head screws if you have a choice. They're easier to drive in and remove if necessary.
  • Good-quality Phillips head bits are worth it. Cheap ones will break off after just a few Tapcon screws due to the amount of force required and the hardness of the steel screws. Be sure to use the proper size bit. For Tapcon screws, that means one of two sizes, #2 or #3 Phillips.
  • The installation tool kit is another good purchase if you'll be doing more than a few screws. It has the proper driver bits and a driver tool for all four standard size screw heads. For large-diameter screws, you'll need to use a quality standard socket set.
  • Cheap sockets will just strip if a screw is going in hard, as is sometimes the case. You need a good-quality socket and ratchet for this job.
  • Wear safety glasses and a dust mask whenever you drill or cut concrete. Concrete contains silica dust, which is hazardous to your breathing.

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