Tapcon screws are self-tapping screws used to fasten materials such as metal, wood and foam to masonry or concrete. They are also known as confast screws, masonry screws, self-tapping screws, blue screws, and titens. Tapcon is a brand name that came from part of the definition of this type of screw, “taps its own threads into concrete.”
The first patent of a concrete screw is by Vincent Yotti done in the year 1975. It was designed to be an inexpensive and quickly-installed screw which had a greater strength of holding things in comparison to the other types of concrete anchors. In the United States, Tapcon is often used when referring to any brand of concrete screw, and we will follow that practice in this article.
Tapcons are made of carbon steel or stainless steel. Their color comes from the Blue Climaseal® coating that provides rust and corrosion resistance. A concrete screw does not necessarily have a protective coating just because it is blue; some inferior screws are merely painted blue. Always read the packaging very carefully to be sure you are getting what you want.
How to Use Tapcons
First, mark the spot where the pilot hole will be drilled. If you are installing a fixture of some type, you can drill the pilot hole right through it because tapcons do not require sleeves. Next, pick up your hammer drill and attach the right size drill bit. For the 3/16 inch screw you need a 5/32 inch bit and for the 1/4 inch screw you need a 3/16 inch bit. Bits are smaller than the screws because you are only drilling a pilot hole; the tapcon needs to be able to cut its own threads as it is driven in. The original tapcons come with their own special bit.
Drill the pilot hole at least 1/4 inch deeper than the length of your screw. The minimum you should drive tapcon screws into concrete is one inch and the deepest you can drive them is 13/4 inches. The head will shear off if you try to drive them any deeper. You are making the pilot hole deeper than the screw length so there will be room for the concrete dust to go as the tapcon is cutting threads.
Clean out the pilot hole and put a tapcon screw through the fixture’s or other material’s hole and into the pilot hole. Take a standard drill and put in a driving bit that matches the head of the screw. Then slowly drive the tapcon in. Remember to hold the drill straight and keep an even, steady pressure on it. It takes longer to drive a tapcon into masonry than it does to drive a regular screw into wood, so be patient. Do not place your screws too close together because it can weaken the concrete or masonry if you do.
Depending on the quality of the concrete, you can remove tapcon screws and place them back in the same holes later. However, every time you do this you are reducing the holding values.
Some of the Uses for Tapcon Screws
Some of the things tapcons are used for are: attaching metal lath to a wall before stuccoing; installing vinyl or wood siding over concrete or masonry walls; installing sub-flooring over concrete floors; mounting a flat TV over a brick fireplace; and many more.