Question: A decorative window shutter on a brick wall at my house blew off in a windstorm. It would be easy to reattach it, except that the holes left in the mortar by the former nails are now too wide for masonry nails of the same size. Masonry anchors for screws require slightly larger bores than the existing holes. How should I deal with this?


Answer: You may be able to substitute concrete screw anchors, such as those made by Tapcon. These don’t require a plastic or metal sleeve; they screw right into concrete, brick or mortar once there are correctly sized pilot holes. The holes need to be a little narrower than the screw shafts. The narrowest Tapcon screws are 3 / 16 inch across and fit into holes 5 / 32 inch in diameter. There are also quarter-inch screws for
/ 16-inch-wide holes.

If the holes in your wall are a little too narrow, use a carbide bit in a power drill to widen them. If you had a lot of holes to drill in well-seasoned concrete, it would be worth renting a hammer drill for this. But to widen a few holes in mortar, a standard drill will probably suffice. Drill the holes at least a quarter-inch deeper than the screws will reach into the concrete.

To determine the length of the screws you need to buy, add the thickness of the shutter to the distance the screw will penetrate into the concrete. That should be at least one inch and no more than 13 / 4 inch.

When you buy the screws, you may have a choice of head type. If you get hex heads, also pick up a hex socket for your drill so you don’t have to screw in the fasteners with a wrench.