Concrete Nails Need Heavy-Handed Approach

From Popular Mechanics

QUESTION: My wife and I are doing extensive renovation on our summer home. We have most projects pretty well in hand, but one of the toughest jobs we find is driving nails in concrete. Do you have any tips that can help us in this area?

ANSWER: There’s no getting around it, driving concrete nails is difficult work. If you have a lot of nailing to do, you can rent power equipment that will make the job go considerably easier. In any event, here are a few pro tricks that will help you with almost any nailing job you have.

The first tip is to use a 2-pound mash hammer when driving concrete nails. Carpenter’s hammers are not intended for driving hardened steel nails into concrete.


Another tip is to use a masonry bit and pre-drill holes through the wood piece and into the concrete wall or floor. You can have good success if you’re driving nails into concrete that is less than one year old. Older concrete is very dense, and it is almost impossible to get a nail into it without drilling an undersized hole, then driving the concrete nail.

If you are fastening wood to concrete block walls, drive the nails into the mortar joints, not into the block. The hollow cores of the concrete block will just collapse if you try to drive a nail into them. The mortar joint offers a solid masonry nailing surface that will hold a nail. You may prefer to use flat, or cut, concrete nails for nailing into mortar joints between concrete block, and use ordinary round concrete nails for nailing wall sole plates into concrete slab floors.

The development of construction adhesive has been a real plus for difficult fastening jobs. Apply a bead of construction adhesive to any piece of wood before nailing the wood to concrete. The adhesive bead will help bridge over any irregular spots in the concrete, and will allow you to fasten with fewer nails.

Bad Drain May Be Cause of Foul Odor

Q: For the past six to eight months there has been an odor of stagnant water from our washing machine. Could the fault lie in the filter?

A: Since your clothes apparently smell fresh and clean and you only notice the odor around the washer, we think there’s something wrong with the drain, not the filtering system.

Check to see if your drain line is properly fitted with a trap in the wall, under the floor or wherever it leaves the house. Also, check for a broken or leaking drain line under the floor or in the wall. You should also look for any leaks or drips from the drain lines under the machine.

A simple way to trap a drain line and to block foul-smelling sewer and water gases is to replace your current machine hose with a longer one. Let the drain hose loop down almost to the floor in back of the machine, then up and out to the drain pipe or tub. This deep looping bend puts a natural trap in the drain line which holds a “plug” of water and prevents stagnant gases from venting back into the room.

Hide Blistered Paint With Vinyl Covering

Q: Our bathroom walls are dry wall. Although we’ve applied several coats of primer on the area, the paint on two feet of wall above the shower tile keeps blistering. We realize this is caused by a moisture problem, but neither a fan nor opening a window is a practical solution. Is there a special paint or preparation we can use that will keep the paint from blistering?

A: You know that without a fan in a vent or openable window, you are courting trouble. However, if you can ever get the blistered walls dry enough to work on, the next best thing to applying more ceramic tiles would be to sand the old, blistered paint thoroughly and cover the area with a solid vinyl wall covering (not vinyl-coated wallpaper).

When you apply the vinyl wall covering, make sure you brush the top and bottom edges and all the joints tightly against the wall. This is to prevent moisture from seeping in behind the wall covering and loosening it.