Hanging Cabinets from Concrete Walls and Steel Studs

A discussion of fastener choices when installing cabinets on concrete, masonry or steel-framed walls. June 23, 2006

I'm installing some upper cabinets into one wall that is 60 inches, cement behind drywall, and another wall that is about 8 feet long with steel studs. 90% of the time, I do residential installations into wood framing. What anchors work best in cement and steel studs? These cabinets will be expected to bear over 150 pounds each.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
For cement or block I have used tapcon screws that are designed for this purpose. You first use a hammer drill to bore a hole and then simply screw the tapcon in (they even give a drill bit when you buy the screws). You can purchase tapcons at Home Depot or Lowes - they are pretty easy to find and work really well.

For steel stud I use the same screws that I use for installing into wood studs, 2 1/2" type 17s. The first time I saw this done, I was really nervous and didn't think that they would hold, but they do. I have installed hundreds of upper cabinets into steel and find them to hold really well with just grabbers. Try it - you will like it.

From contributor E:
I agree. I use the same screws for wood and steel studs with no problems. Make sure you're using the self drilling type. Home Depot carries decent ones in a 1lb. box. The only thing I would worry about is the gauge of the studs. I do a lot of installs in a seven story building, so all the steel is heavy gauge. The studs you get at HD or Lowes are pretty thin. If you're not sure, err on the side of safety with a couple extra screws in each cab.

As for the concrete, the Tapcons will work, but it may be easier to attach a couple of hanging rails 1" thick to the concrete with lag shields. It makes the cabinets go up quicker - you just need end panels to cover the gap.

From contributor R:

I kept hearing about Tapcon screws, so I decided to try them. They either snap off or they strip out. I have a Hilti concrete drill, so I used my bits and even tried the crappy bit that came with them. My opinion - expensive homeowner crap. Rent/buy a proper percussion drill and use Hilti type fasteners. As for steel studs, it depends on the gauge. If they're light, use two screws where you would normally use one.

From contributor D:
Tapcons work fine. Don't use one that is too long for the application. Drill your hole with the correct diameter bit, and then *blow out the dust*. If you do this, you will never have problems again.

From contributor G:
Drywall glued to cement? What I come across more often is drywall over 3/4" furring over mostly hollow block. Sometimes furring is t-nailed over 3/4" Thermax panel (exterior wall). Those of you in Fla know what I'm talking about. Sometimes the furring is lucky to hold drywall, let alone cabs. Tapcons work great in solid concrete (clean holes sized right a must), but sometimes don't grab well in a mortar joint, hollow cell, crack, etc. In steel studs I try to hit inside edge of flange, and use extra screws - go slow, will strip out easy. Ideal world, blocking before drywall, but I guess we all must deal with the real world.