Masonry Pins - What Are They and When Are They Used?

Brick and concrete walls are found in every home across the world. They are up there with the most durable building materials you can use in construction. Once the installation has been completed, they require almost no maintenance to upkeep, particularly if they are used for interior walls.

However, the sturdy nature of brick walls and concrete can make them difficult materials to work with when it comes to hanging decorative items, wall fixtures, and photo frames. 

If you want to add colour and life to your bare brick walls, then you will need to use masonry pins or concrete pins, otherwise known as masonry or concrete nails.

This article will explore the different types of masonry nails available and highlight the specific uses of each one. It will then detail the best way to install masonry nails into a wall safely.

What Are Masonry Pins?

Masonry pins are a type of nail designed to be driven into brick or concrete. They are usually made from hardened, reinforced steel, meaning they can handle heavy strikes of a hammer or other tool without bending or breaking. They come in many dimensions, making them versatile and suitable for various construction tasks and projects.

What Are They Used For?

Masonry nails have several different uses. You can use them to attach plywood subfloor and carpet tacks before installing a carpet. They typically attach fixtures to walls, ceilings, and other surfaces.

Different Types of Masonry Pins

Broadly speaking, three types of masonry pins are available to assist with construction projects.

Cap Masonry Nails

These types of masonry nails are distinct in terms of their heads. They usually have much wider heads in terms of diameter than other masonry nails. Their primary purpose is to attach softer furnishings to masonry or concrete walls. This is because the shaft tapers down to a fine point to minimise the risk of damage to the softer materials.

Likewise, the shafts of cap masonry nails are usually thin compared to other varieties. 

Fluted Masonry Nails

Fluted masonry nails are those most commonly used in the carpet installation process. They are characterised by thicker shafts and rivets (or flutes), so they have much in common with many screw designs. 

These grooves and rivets give the nail extra strength when inside the masonry or brickwork by biting into the material, making them difficult to dislodge once inserted. 

Power-Driven Masonry Nails

These are perhaps the most versatile type of masonry nails. They come in a wide variety of shaft lengths and head diameters and are designed to fit a multitude of purposes. As the name suggests, they require a more specialised tool than a hammer for the installation. 

You can use both pneumatic and powder-driven tools as part of the installation process. It is generally recommended to avoid inserting the nail into the mortar between brickwork as this can weaken it or cause damage.

What Are Mickey Pins?

A more-specialised variety of concrete pin is a mickey pin. These share several properties with the other types of masonry nails mentioned. They are also usually made of reinforced steel capable of handling the rigours of concrete installation. Some are made from zinc or have a zinc coating to prevent corrosion when installed outside.

Their defining feature is that they come pre-assembled with circular washers around the nail's shaft. The washer is loose to adapt to how far the shaft is driven into the masonry. 

What does the washer do?

Washers serve several different functions during the installation of a mickey pin. They can help spread the load on the screw or nail when being used to hang something against a wall. As long as they are made from a non-corrosive material, they can assist in preventing corrosion of the shaft.

Additionally, if the washer is made from plastic or ceramic, it can help reduce the metal's conductivity when used for electrical construction or installation.  

However, a washer’s primary purpose is to prevent the loosening of the nail once it has been installed.

When should a mickey pin be used?

Mickey pins are versatile enough to be used across many different types of installations. However, they are particularly effective at attaching thin sheet materials, such as cable trays and plastic trunking, to masonry or concrete.

How To Insert a Masonry Pin

Installing a masonry or mickey pin is quite a straightforward process, but it still needs to be done carefully to avoid damage to the fixture or the wall. To insert a masonry pin, follow these steps:

  1. Mark the spot for your pilot hole. This is the initial empty hole that the nail will eventually insert into. Try to avoid direct drilling into brickwork, as this can cause the interior of a brick to crack.
  2. Drill a hole that is slightly smaller than the shaft diameter of your chosen masonry nail.
  3. Hammer the masonry nail into the pilot hole. Making the pilot hole smaller than the nail shaft diameter means the pin will have to expand the hole, making it far more secure.
  4. When you’ve inserted the nail as far as you want it to go, pull down on it to make sure that it does not move. If this is the case, then you’re ready to hang something on it.

Final Thoughts

Masonry nails are a vital component of any toolkit. They are essential in bringing interior and exterior spaces to life by allowing homeowners to attach and fix decorations and items of sentimental value onto walls. Make sure you carefully consider which variety of concrete nails you will require for your project before purchasing.

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