How Wall Anchors Can Aid Your Installation

Properly anchoring all types of equipment to a variety of surfaces is a skill that is often overlooked. Here are a handful of different wall anchors that can aid your installation.

In March we took a look at the use of adhesives that make our work easier, more productive and professional.

We’re going to continue on a similar theme with a skill that is often overlooked and assumed everyone will learn on their own: properly anchoring all types of equipment to a variety of surfaces.

Just the other day I had the opportunity to observe a technician who appeared to be in a hurry, did not have the right equipment, or was just plain lazy. The finished product was a control box mounted to a wall.

The tech did this by overlaying a cross-cross of black electrical tape and then small screws at each end of the tape cross to hold everything, including the control box, to the wall. As someone once said, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

I hope those who read this month’s Tech Talk will at least come away with some good ideas on how to secure or anchor their equipment in a professional manner.

Remember, take pride in your work, even if it takes a few extra minutes. With all the DIY intrusion into our industry we have to make that extra effort to differentiate between the amateurs and pros.

Hollow-Wall Anchors

When you install control boxes and equipment to wallboard and basically hollow walls, do you have a plan or just grab a few handy screws and hang the box? How about location of equipment? As always, securing to a solid stud(s) has priority.

Find a location that will give you good access to 24-hour AC power, a good earth ground, and effective cable distribution to system sensors and other equipment. Do you prefer installing a solid plywood back plate for multiple equipment?

Now there are myriad hollow wall anchors on the market. If you have done any installation I’m sure you have gone through the traditional learning curve. First, we have the basic plastic anchors that come with the equipment. Overall I would avoid these anchors. Many do not even have a lip so they easily get pushed into the wall and end up in never-never land.

Here are some styles that I really like using.

SnapSkru — This is a self-drilling drywall screw anchor. There is no need for drilling a hole, just screw the anchor in until flush, mount the device and screw-in the screw. The tip will pop open behind the wall providing wings to secure the anchor and device.

SnapToggle — A heavy-duty anchor that’s good for those large HDTV mounts on ½- to 5 ⁄8-inch walls. Comes with a special link to pull the toggle open when placed in wall, as well as a short bolt.

GripIt — A uniquely designed hollow-wall anchor with a camlike wing configuration. Good for heavy loads.

Solid-Wall Anchors

Many challenges arise when trying to find the best anchor to hold equipment on solid walls such as concrete, brick, stone and tile. Since most anchors deal with some sort of expansion, extra care must be taken not to crack the wall or floor material.

Tip: Make sure holes for equipment anchor bolts on floors have an extra inch so you can drive unused bolts flush with the floor when not needed any more.

Tapcon — These have been a workhorse in the industry for years. Be careful to drill the right size holes. Make sure to check out their pro installation kit as well.

Alligator — Basic solid-walls anchors with specially formulated polypropylene body that flows into the anchor cavity and locks up. Bonds screw to concrete brick and stone and seal the hole against moisture.

Confast — A double-expansion type anchor. These anchors expand very carefully and are particularly effective at reducing cracking problems with questionable concrete, brick, etc.

Sammys — A special type of anchor screw with a threaded attachment for hanging rods. Installs just as easily upside down.

Fastener Guns

One of the best time savers for good, solid wall anchors is the application of powder-actuated guns. Anchors and fasteners are driven in concrete and other solid walls with the force of a powder gun cartridge or solid propellant.

Hilti DX Series — Digitally enabled, fully automatic, high productivity and versatile power-actuated tools. Powerful enough for fastenings on even steel. Must have certification to handle these babies.

Nitro Ninja — These guns use solid propellant instead of gun powder. No loud gunshots. Operators do not need certification. However, they are very powerful and care is very much needed when using. Comes as a lightweight pole version for ceilings (see Tool Tip below).

Tool Tip

I’ve been told that solid propellant powered fastener guns have been around for some time in Asia. Now U.S. technicians can take advantage of this convenient and economical way to power anchor equipment into solid walls. Equipment features include; lightweight, no piston/no kick, and low maintenance. Nitro Ninjas come with a nonslip ribbed rubber grip for comfort and to make the device nonconductive, according to the company.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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