The Best Concrete Anchors – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

Fastening surfaces together is something you don’t want to have to do twice. That’s why having the best concrete anchors for you is absolutely essential.

Most DIYers are familiar with fastening things to wood, plaster, drywall, or fastening pieces of metal together–it’s often pretty easy, and there are lots of tools that get the job done for multiple materials. Concrete (in addition to brick and cement), on the other hand, requires a unique type of fastener called a concrete anchor.

These come in lots of different formats, sizes, and strengths, but they all complete the same basic task.

Most require an already drilled hole to put the anchor into, before expanding the anchor until it generates enough friction to stay put and support the weight. The best way to drill holes into concrete is definitely with a hammer drill. A standard drill might work in softer brick, but you’ll most likely ruin your bits. Avoid that headache by investing in a hammer drill if you plan on working on multiple projects with concrete, brick, or cement.

Here’s our list of the top choices for the best concrete anchors currently on the market to help in your buying process. Let’s take a look.

Quick Overview: Our Best ​Concrete Anchors Choices

Though concrete isn’t always the first material a homeowner will encounter for their projects, it is the most commonly used base material in the world because it’s reliably strong, easy to make, and versatile. Knowing how to use concrete anchors will expand your scope of potential projects, both at home and professionally.

​Most of the anchors listed below come in multiple diameters and lengths. We’ve chosen to show a range of different sizes that are most commonly needed, but there are others out there too. If you see one you like but it isn’t the right fit, the product likely comes in other sizes.

Best Hammer-Set Anchor:

ITW Brands Red Head 35200 25PK 1/4 Hammer Anchor​

This hammer-set anchor–also known as a metal hit anchor, hammer drive, or mechanical drive anchor– is an excellent choice for those looking to fasten something light to medium weight to concrete.

The Red Head 1/4 Hammer Anchor’s come in two lengths: 1 inch and 2 inch, which offers just a little more support. As the name indicates, the diameter is 1/4 inch.

They consist of a zinc die cast expansion body & zinc plated steel expander drive pin. These are versatile anchors, and they work great in concrete, cement, block, and brick.

Try using them to fasten electrical boxes and conduit clips, shelf brackets, towel bars, garage brackets, plywood, or pretty much anything else weighing up to about 50 pounds.

ITW Red Head is a brand you’ll see a couple times in this buying guide. As one of the leading manufacturers of concrete anchoring systems of many kinds, that should come as no surprise.

Things We Like:

  • Zinc die-cast expansion body and zinc plated steel expander drive pin
  • Works in concrete, block, and brick
  • Great for fastening electrical boxes, conduit clips, roof flashing, plywood and lumber
  • Indoor and outdoor use

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Not to be used for overhead application

​Best Machine Screw Anchor:

CONFAST 1/4″ (Inside/Screw 1/4″ diameter) Machine Screw Anchor with 1 Setting Tool (100 per box)

These extra rust-resistant anchors are a great choice for humid environments or outdoor projects involving concrete, cement block, and brick. They consist of two parts: an anchor body made of made of antimonial lead and a cone made from zamac alloy, both of which are highly resistant to rust.

This anchor requires a ½ inch hole into the base material. Its diameter is a ¼ inch and its length is ⅞ of an inch, and in order for it to be secure, it needs to be completely embedded in the concrete. The Confast machine screw, like most other machine screws, requires a setting tool for installation.

Fortunately, that’s included in the price! To make sure it carries its weight and stays supported, make sure to space them at least 5 inches apart and 2 ½ inches from any unsupported edges.

Things We Like:

  • Rust-resistant
  • Great for outdoor and humid climates
  • Works on concrete, cement block, or brick
  • Lead and alloy structure extremely durable

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Requires a setting tool

Best Concrete Screws:

Ansen Tools AN-133 Diamond Tip Hex Head Concrete Screw Anchor 3/16″ x 1 1/4″. 100 Piece With Drill Bit​

Concrete screws are different than all of the others included in this buying guide because they don’t utilize any expansion to set them in place. Instead, they’re drilled into a hole slightly smaller than their circumference, using their strong and sharp edges to dig into the concrete.

Though these won’t withstand the toughest loads, they’re a sturdy and dependable option for most common projects that require cement anchors around the house.

They’re made from high-grade carbon steel and are coated with an advanced plating called Envirocoat that provides long-term corrosion resistance. The diamond tip offers complete precision, even when being used with extra hard materials.

These Ansen Tools Concrete Screw Anchors are incredibly affordable, and the drill bit they require for installation is included. Pretty good deal!

Things We Like:

  • Carbon steel
  • Envirocoat plating provides corrosion resistance
  • Diamond tip penetrates extra hard materials
  • ICC Listed for quality assurance
  • Hi-lo self-tapping thread design

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Not for tough loads or extreme durability

Best Medium-Duty Sleeve Anchor #1

The Hillman Group 370828 Hex Head Sleeve Anchor, 3/8 X 3-Inch, 20-Pack​

Though these aren’t the absolute strongest anchors on the market, they can still support quite a bit of weight: up to 385 lbs in 4000 psi concrete, 340 lbs in C-9 block, and 250 pounds in brick Their sleeve design makes them pretty easy to install if you’ve properly drilled the holes with a hammer drill.

Make sure the holes are the same size as the anchor, so it can tighten as it expands. Use these to install handrails, window frames, partitions, cabinets, shelves, and pipe supports to concrete or brick.

Things We Like:

  • Expansion type anchors used to fasten fixture into a variety of base materials
  • Made of Steel/Zinc
  • Holds up to 385 lbs in 4000 psi concrete, 340 lbs in a C-9 block, and 250 pounds in brick

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Requires pre-drilling, which can be a pain

Best Wedge Anchor:

Simpson Strong Tie STB2-50334 1/2-Inch by 3-3/4-Inch Bolt Wedge Anchor for Cracked and Uncracked Concrete, 25-Pack​

If you need incredibly strong anchors that can stand up to the toughest conditions, you should definitely get these.

The Strong Bolt Wedge Anchors are designed to perform just as well in cracked concrete as uncracked, due to their innovative technology that allows the anchor to expand further if cracks form near the anchor location.

They’ve been proven to withstand even the most adverse conditions, like static loading and seismic activity, and have received classification as a Category 1 anchor, the highest attainable anchor category for performance. So, Californians, you probably should look into the Simpson Strong Tie anchors too.

Things We Like:

  • Anchor diameter equals hole diameter
  • Available in 7 different head styles
  • Zinc plated carbon steel
  • 8,900-pound loading capacity
  • Pre-assembled for faster, easier installations
  • Can be installed through object to be fastened

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Pricier option, considering the strength
  • May be impractical for smaller use

Types of Concrete Anchors

Knowing how to use concrete anchors will expand your scope of potential projects, both at home and professionally.

Most of the anchors listed below come in multiple diameters and lengths. We’ve chosen to show a range of different sizes that are most commonly needed, but there are others out there too. If you see one you like but it isn’t the right fit, the product likely comes in other sizes.

There are so many different types of concrete anchors, all with different fastening mechanisms, strengths, and price points. Here are some of the most common ones:

Hammer Set Anchors

These anchors, also known as metal hit anchors or hammer drive anchors, are an excellent choice for a lighter level of support anchor. They work for fastening to concrete, brick, or block, and are tamper resistant once installed.

Hammer set anchors are usually found in two diameters: 3/16″ or 1/4″, and their lengths vary from 7/8″ to 3″. Make sure you drill the hole to the correct diameter and length of your anchors. 

Hammer set anchors consists of two parts: the body of the anchor and a steel pin. The hollow anchor body has a mushroom head, and the zinc-plated steel pin expands the anchor when it is hammered into the body.

Machine Screw Anchor​

If you need slightly more support than a hammer set anchor offers, try this one. Machine screw anchors also attach to concrete, cement, and brick with no problem.

They’re made up of two parts, an internally threaded cone and a sleeve. The size of machine screw anchors is determined by their internal threads–common sizes are 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8” and 3/4”.

One of the great things about these anchors is that their design allows them to work with irregular holds. Install machine screw anchors by placing the sleeve over the threaded cone and then inserting the pair into a previously drilled hole, which needs to be larger than the designated size of the anchors.

Most machine screw anchors are accompanied by a setting tool used to expand the sleeve until it is anchored into place.

Concrete Screws

The next level up is concrete screws. These are different than any other type of anchor mentioned because they don’t use expansion to set into concrete. Instead, concrete screws are a threaded screw with special hardened notched threads and high-low threads.

These dig into the sides of the hole while the screw anchors itself into the base material until the head is set tightly against the surface. For concrete screws, the hole needs to be smaller than the diameter of the screw, to ensure it is secure. So, for example, a 1/4″ screw should be drilled into a 3/16″ hole.

Sleeve Anchors

Depending on their size, sleeve anchors are a great choice for medium to heavy-duty needs. They consist of four different parts: a stud (which is threaded and flared or cone-shaped at one end), an expanding sleeve, a nut, and a washer.

The sleeve is placed over the stud, and the nut and washer are threaded onto the smaller side of the cone-shaped end. When you turn the nut, the stud is pulled up through the sleeve and it expands inside the hole until it is tightly fit.

Sleeve anchors are available in six diameters in the hex nut – 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”and 3/4”. The 1/4”, 5/16” and 3/8” also come in a flat, countersunk head. For medium support, use a 1/4”, 5/16”, or 3/8” sleeve anchor.

For heavy duty projects, choose one with a diameter of 1/2”, 5/8” or 3/4”. They work very well in concrete, brick, and cement block, and the hole drilled should be the same size as the diameter of the sleeve anchor.

Wedge Anchors

Wedge anchors are perfect for heavy-duty needs. These multiple piece concrete anchors can offer some serious support.

They consist of a steel rod and a clip. The steel rod, usually made from stainless or zinc-plated steel, is tapered in width, with a clip attached to one end. The anchor is inserted into a hole, and then a nut and washer are placed on the anchor’s threads and tightened.

When the nut is turned with a wrench, it pulls the anchor up, wedging the clip firmly against the concrete. For these, the hole drilled should be the same size as the anchor’s diameter.

Wedge anchors typically come in 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”, 3/4”, 7/8”, 1”, and 1-1/4” diameters, with different lengths suitable to different thicknesses of whatever material you plan to attach to the concrete.

Wrap Up

Applying adhesive materials to a variety of other materials may be relatively simple, but fastening concrete is a whole other ballgame. You’re going to want something that can get the job done and only requires a single application as to avoid unnecessary repairs.

It’s also important to note which kind of concrete anchors you’re going to want. From the many different varieties, one of them is sure to be the best concrete anchors for you, so be sure to keep your needs in mind when making your final purchase.

Our personal recommendation for our best concrete anchors are the Red Head Hammer Anchors, which allow for maximum versatility and performance without breaking the bank.

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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