There are specific types of nails and anchors that can be used to securely attach objects like shelving to concrete walls. To properly install these nails and anchors into the concrete surface, specific tools are needed to make guide holes in the concrete or hammer the fasteners into the surface correctly.
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Hammer drills are drills with bits that are designed to make holes in masonry, brick or mortar. While regular drill bits can work on softer pieces of concrete, they will burn out on harder surfaces and will also wear down quickly after a number of uses. The bits on hammer drills, many of which are made of carbide and are incredibly difficult to wear down, are designed for the tough surfaces and extreme friction of even the hardest concrete. Hammer drills are relatively expensive to purchase, so unless you plan on using one regularly, renting a hammer drill is probably the most economical way to go.
For lightweight concrete nails and anchors, a heavy steel hammer is all you need. Simply hit the nails hard and square and they should penetrate softer concrete mortar with ease. To install anchors in this way, use a nail that is slightly bigger than the anchor, make the hole, remove the nail and then insert the anchor into the hole, gently hammering it home the rest of the way. Insert a screw into the plastic anchor, which will expand and not allow anything to pull out of the wall. This process only works effectively on very soft concrete or mortar.
A variety of different tools are needed to clean the guide hole you have made for your screw or anchor. Wire brushes that are used to clean metal and wood surfaces can be used for this application, as can cans of compressed air that are also used to clean computers and electronics. Vacuums and blowout bulbs are also useful for this purpose. As much of the dust as possible should be cleared from the hole so that the anchor or nail will smoothly fit into the hole.
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