Anchoring in Masonry Walls


Dear NH,
I want to install a mantle on a brick fireplace. Do you recommend plastic or metal wall anchors? Should the holes for the anchors be drilled into the actual bricks or the mortar between the bricks?
RA from Milpitas, CA

The plastic anchors work just fine as long as they fit tightly into the holes. Because the anchors act as a wedge to hold the screws into the very hard cement or brick, you can use a larger screw than you would use if installing the same anchor in drywall. In other words, if you are using a #6-8 anchor, use either an #8 or #10 screw.

There are special purpose anchors designed to be used in masonry, made from lead and steel, but for all but the most heavy duty jobs the plastic anchors will work just fine. In fact, even a tightly fitted wood dowel would expand enough to firmly hold a screw in masonry, provided the dowel is not too much larger than the screw. Again, the principle is that the screw when installed will expand the anchoring medium so that it is tightly wedged against the sides of the hole in the masonry. As an aside, this is why plastic expansion anchors do not work well in drywall... the drywall is fairly soft, so that the anchor cannot wedge tightly against it. Instead, the drywall deforms slightly, providing a very minimal amount of holding strength.

Back to your question, you may drill into either the brick or the mortar. However, I prefer to fasten to the mortar for cosmetic reasons... it is easier to touchup holes in the mortar if you someday take down the mantle. You cannot do too much to disguise the holes in the brick face unless it is painted or you are very artistic. In that case the holes can be filled with virtually any filler suitable for wood or cement prior to being touched up with paint.

Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page

The Natural Handyman Site Directory

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book