How To Attach Wood To Concrete Without Drilling (Do This!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Wood and concrete: is there a more classic combination? In almost every building and outdoor patios, you will see a combination of wood and concrete in one way or another. In some cases, you might even be asked to attach wood to concrete. Usually, this requires a drill, but there are some ways to work around it if you need to…

Attaching wood to concrete without drilling is possible when you use cut nails. These nails are square and tapered with a tip. You can drive them through the wood and into the concrete without breaking apart the concrete. It’s the same type of process as nailing wood to a wooden floor.

Making sure that you safely attach the wood to your concrete without damaging the structure is a must. Otherwise, you might not be able to trust the structural integrity of your project.

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Ways To Attach Wood To Concrete (No Drilling)

Whether it’s due to the worrying about a drill breaking apart concrete or just not having one, there will be times where you will need to put concrete and wood together without using a drill.

Currently, there are three reliable ways to get wood and concrete to attach without using everyone’s favorite power tool. Let’s talk about each.

Nailing Wood To Concrete

Yep, it’s true, you can nail in your wood if you get the right supplies. However, this is not always the easiest way to do things.

Wood tends to bound when it’s being nailed down into solid concrete, so it can take some effort and serious holding down in order for this to work well. These tips below can help:

  • Before you do anything, check the concrete. Not all types of concrete can be nailed on. If it’s a consistency that’s prone to chipping, you should opt for another method.
  • Use a sledgehammer and the right nails. You will need cut (also known as masonry) nails for this, which are typically made of stainless steel. You can pick up concrete nails at your local store. If you cannot find regular masonry nails, you might want to try hardwall hangers or powder-actuated fasteners.
  • If you want to go with a more foolproof option, you can also use an air-powered nail gun. This is the easiest way to get enough force to drive your nail into the concrete without bouncing.
  • Always nail your nails straight down. Trying to nail your wood down at an angle will crack the concrete. Ideally, your nails should be totally perpendicular to the concrete. This is the best way to avoid damage to your concrete and nails.
  • If you are working with heavy-duty concrete, it may make sense to drill entirely through the concrete and bolt the wood through it. This does not work with lightweight concrete, since it is far more prone to flaking. If you are not sure what type of concrete you’re working with, ask for help.

What You Need To Know About This Method

It’s worth noting that nailing your wood to the concrete isn’t always the best option. Wood that’s nailed on has a tendency of getting loose, particularly if a lot of movement happens on the construction.

Moreover, nails can crack both the wood and the concrete. If you are not very skilled at hammering things in, this is not a method you should try.

Gluing Wood And Concrete Together

Nailing concrete and wood together is not the best choice, which is why most people prefer to glue them together whenever possible.

However, this isn’t just something you can do willy-nilly. These tips will help you get the most out of this type of adhesion:

  • Always make sure that your wood and concrete are both clean. If you glue them together while they’re dirty, the glue will adhere to the dirt rather than the wood, giving you a less stable grip.
  • Use a flexible adhesive or an adhesive that’s made for bonding your specific type of concrete to wood. Quikrete, for example, makes an awesome adhesive that works with wood, concrete, and stone. Another great option is Liquid Nails, which is readily available on Amazon. 
  • To ensure that you get a good grip on the wood, use clamps to hold the two items together until the glue is dry. When you’re working with this kind of adhesive, you can’t just lightly rest the wood on the concrete. That may not be enough pressure to get a firm grip.
  • If at all possible, do the gluing in an area that is dry. Humidity may weaken the bond or make it less powerful than it once was.
  • Some forms of construction may work better if both the wood and concrete are shaped to interlock with one another. An interlocking design is a surefire way to help add more stability to your construction, especially when you consider how hard it can be to keep glue working at its full capacity. It’s the same concept that builders use to make a fence that won’t sag.

What You Need To Know About This Method

Gluing things together is a safer method, but glue can always wear out. If you want a longer-lasting build, it’s best to double up with both nails and glue. Or better still, use an interlocking design.

To ensure that you made the right choice with this method, read up on the glue type you’re using and make sure to avoid using this method on its own in areas that may be conducive to glue rot.

Sticking The Wood In Cement

While this isn’t exactly the same thing as gluing or nailing wood into pre-poured concrete, it’s still worth noting.

After all, there are plenty of times where you might need to put a wooden post into a bucket of concrete as a way of weighing things down. It’s a common method for helping stabilize tents and anchor gazebos without drilling.

Want to use this trick instead? Here’s what you need to know:

  • This is a method that’s not meant to have tons of weight relying on it, nor is it meant to stick around for decades on end. It’s important to remember that wood can and will eventually rot, especially if you’re using this outdoors. Do not make this the foundation of your home or a foundation of an item you will rely on for decades.
  • Be realistic about what this is for. It’s great for anchoring down things or adding a stable portion to your fence.
  • To get the best results, have something to hold the wood in place while you wait for it to dry. This will give you the straight angle it needs. Rope and clamps can both work, depending on what you’re building.
  • You might not be able to get the cement out of the bucket easily. Though it can be possible depending on the method that you use to pour the cement, you shouldn’t bet on it unless you go out of the way to make it happen.

What You Need To Know About This Method

In terms of adhering cement to wood, this is often one of the less reliable. Wood can rot when left in cement, and you can’t always get a perfect grip.

If you’re working on building a structure that needs high levels of integrity, using bolts and interlocking designs is a far better option. This is usually a good choice for more casual, utilitarian needs.

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Will Hammering Nails Into Concrete Cause It To Crack?

It all depends on the type of concrete and the technique that’s being used to hammer into the floor. If you are dealing with lightweight concrete, there’s a higher chance of having a crack occur. However, there’s no guarantee it’ll crack just based on the material alone.

A bigger issue you need to be aware of is the technique you use, as well as the speed. Hammering fast, at an angle, or using the wrong nails can be a fairly good predictor of a crack in your concrete. This is why it’s so important to work on making sure you have the right technique and tools before you begin.

Related Questions

Can you use a regular drill to drill into concrete?

Though it’s better to use a drill that is meant for masonry and heavy-duty work, there’s nothing stopping you from using your standard drill on concrete. If you choose to use a standard drill, be forewarned that you may need specialty bits and that you will most likely need to replace bits more frequently.When drilling into concrete with a standard drill, you’re going to have to be a little patient. It’s a tough material, and it’ll take a while before your drill will be able to fully bore into it.

How well does Liquid Nails adhere wood to concrete?

It all depends on the application. To get the best results with Liquid Nails, make sure that both surfaces are clean and dry before you try to apply the glue.Moreover, it’s important to make sure that the concrete you’re working with is fully set and dried. Otherwise, the wood will shift after it’s been glued, potentially wrecking your project.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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