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How to Anchor a Steel Handrail to Concrete Steps

September 29, 2016

Drill, Drive, DONE—Finally a concrete anchor that works

Attaching steel to concrete is rarely as simple as it ought to be. There are all sorts of fasteners available for attaching steel and/or wood to concrete:

  • Lead shield anchors
  • Expanding bolts
  • Wedge bolts
  • Drive-pin anchors
  • Drop in anchors ...

What most of these fasteners have in common is that they can be unpredictable and unreliable when it matters most. Fasteners that don't work as planned cost both time and money.

The project in this video illustrates a typical scenario: attaching a steel base plate to concrete. We do the same thing with decks and porch columns. Once the base plate is in place there are specific places where anchor bolts must be placed. A hole is drilled. A wedge bolt is inserted and tightened ...

Then it spins, slips, or pulls out.

Emoji indicating distress over a wedge bolt pulling out of steel attached to concrete

Now what?

Most times the fastener is too stuck to be removed but too loose to hold.

Even if the fastener can be removed the hole can't be reused because it didn't work the first time.

And you can't always move the base plate and drill a new hole.

I know you've been there or you wouldn't be reading this.

With over 30 years in construction trades I've had my share of frustration with concrete anchors—almost all of them. Learning about Large Diameter Tapcons (LDTs) recently, made me gulp with anticipation.

I picked some up at my lumber yard and gave them a try on this handrail for concrete steps.

Bottom Line:

Thumbs up emoji illustrating success with attaching handrails for concrete steps

—Matt Jackson is a master carpenter, remodeler, SketchUp Wiz, YouTuber, and contributing editor to ProTradeCraft. He lives and works in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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