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Should I attach my French cleats to a block wall, or make a frame first?

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 09-15-2019 09:29 PM 689 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1188 days


09-15-2019 09:29 PM

I just bought a house, and my wife says the basement is mine! It’s a little smaller than my last shop, so I need to get a little more organized than I was at the last place. I want to install a French cleat system on the wall, but the old block walls are crazy hard! I can drill a hole with a borrowed hammer drill, but it’s a lot of work.

I’ve been going back and forth as to whether I should attach the cleats directly to the wall, or whether I should attach some 2×3 or 2×4 framing to the block wall, maybe cover it with plywood or tongue and groove, and then attach the cleat system to that with just wood screws? I plan to hang a decent sized tool cabinet on the cleats, so there may be some weight on them.

The basement is semi finished, has a drop ceiling (that I might remove), painted walls and floors, so I’d like to keep it looking decent.


20 replies so far

View jutsFL's profile

jutsFL

191 posts in 349 days


#1 posted 09-15-2019 09:42 PM

Id frame it out. Personally wouldnt want to put holes in my perfectly good blocks. Plus, if you plan it all first for the shop, you can run essentials behind the framing as well.

-- I've quickly learned that being a woodworker isn't about making flawless work, rather it's fixing all the mistakes you made so that it appears flawless to others! Jay - FL

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therealSteveN

3878 posts in 1082 days


#2 posted 09-15-2019 10:30 PM

I really struggle with popping holes in perfectly sound block walls, or even poured concrete walls. I’d much prefer to build a stud wall inside the perimeter. Into that stud wall you can run electric, plumbing, and insulate it to make it all warmer.

As they say though, your house, your rules.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1188 days


#3 posted 09-15-2019 11:30 PM

I think I’d still have to attach the stud wall to my block wall though, right? do you think that if I just run a few anchors into the block at the top of the frame they’ll support the weight of the tools hanging on the wall? Or… Maybe if I do remove the drop ceiling I could attach the stud walls into some exposed floor joist or something…

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waho6o9

8768 posts in 3085 days


#4 posted 09-15-2019 11:34 PM

Buy or rent a roto hammer and use a SDS bit if you are fastening to concrete.

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1325 posts in 1417 days


#5 posted 09-15-2019 11:38 PM

If you don’t mind holes in your concrete wall, use a Hilti nail gun. I think they rent them at HD.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1188 days


#6 posted 09-16-2019 02:52 AM

Huh. Who knew they made nail guns for concrete?

Is there a chance that I could cause a structural problem or leaks with drilling holes in the block? I know the basement was recently sealed because it was getting a little water during heavy rains…

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therealSteveN

3878 posts in 1082 days


#7 posted 09-16-2019 03:16 AM



I think I d still have to attach the stud wall to my block wall though, right? do you think that if I just run a few anchors into the block at the top of the frame they ll support the weight of the tools hanging on the wall? Or… Maybe if I do remove the drop ceiling I could attach the stud walls into some exposed floor joist or something…

- Jeremymcon

If you run a plate across the top of the wall, you can go into the stringers of the ground floor ceiling above you. I have less qualms about drilling, into a floor, but to make sure you don’t end poorly after 5 years or so, lay down treated lumber for that portion of the wall build. For drilling the floors, Hilti drill at the local rental place. They work, they have the bits that will cause the least amount of problems. You can use SS anchors through the floor itself that expand on tightening them. That wall won’t go anywhere. If you are worried about water intrusion, you can foam them closed when you set the wall. Foam into the hole, bolt into foam, and foam cap on top. 47 basement jobs, no call backs.

I always had good luck with RedHeads Actually married one :-)

-- Think safe, be safe

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controlfreak

203 posts in 109 days


#8 posted 09-16-2019 01:46 PM

I say it depends on whether you need to add any power outlets on that wall. If you need more power do a full stud wall. If not you could do 1X4 furring strips or 2×4 laid on its side if you want more wood for the plywood and cleats to thread into. The furring you will still need to anchor to the wall, the studs you can hit at the top and bottom plates. You should probably use treated lumber rated for direct contact with concrete so it can handle the moisture.

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Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1188 days


#9 posted 09-16-2019 02:12 PM

I don’t need to add outlets – I’m only planning to do a 6 or 8 foot section of cleat wall, and I have outlets on other sections of the wall. I don’t really want/need to cover the entire wall with the cleat system – don’t have that much stuff!

I’m starting to lean toward the 2×4’s on their side just because it’ll be easier to make changes later on if I decide to move my cleats around or if I ever need to replace a cleat. Good tip on the treated lumber! I wouldn’t have though of that but I suppose it could get moldy if the wall let’s some moisture through.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

992 posts in 3301 days


#10 posted 09-16-2019 02:20 PM

DON’T use a nail gun. Drill the wall. Use expanding sleeve anchors in block, or drop ins in concrete. If you want to change things, with nails that is hard and alot of damage. If you anchor above outside ground level, there will be no leaks.

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1325 posts in 1417 days


#11 posted 09-16-2019 02:23 PM



Huh. Who knew they made nail guns for concrete?

Is there a chance that I could cause a structural problem or leaks with drilling holes in the block? I know the basement was recently sealed because it was getting a little water during heavy rains…

- Jeremymcon

There are a variety of nail specs and powder charges for any task. I’ve used them to attach 2”x4” studs to solid concrete with ease. I’ve never had satisfactory results trying to get wall anchors to hold as well and the amount of time and work saved makes the Hilti gun a worthwhile consideration. Much smaller holes left behind as well.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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DBDesigns

232 posts in 506 days


#12 posted 09-16-2019 02:49 PM

Jeremy,
I am currently in the exact same situation as you. My new shop is actually a little bigger than the last one but I still need to organize it to fit everything. My block walls are actually pretty brittle. Therefore, I am using lead anchors and lags to secure boards to the walls. ( Be glad yours are nice and firm.)

Two things; First, you are not going to damage block foundation walls by penetrating them with relatively small holes. You wont get leaks or cracks from that. In fact, it is a long term carpentry practice to fasten wood to concrete walls.

Second, If the block is not crazy hard, you can actually use a framing-nailer and regular framing nails to fasten 2×4s to the block. BTW, if you haven’t figured this out yet, the blocks are hollow with 1.5” thick walls so you will drill through if you are in the right spot. Some people drill through and then use toggle bolts to secure the boards but I think this is a hassle. Don’t overlook Tapcon screws either. Obviously there are a lot of solutions. A good hardware store can steer you towards some excellent solutions.
Also, Home Depot sells a Remington concrete nailer for about $40. It uses 22 caliber loads and drives single nails out of the end. Use hearing protection because it is loud in a confined space. Again, this is old technology. It works just like a Hilti but it is consumer grade and way cheaper.

If the block is brittle, you may need to rely on a hammer drill like me. BTW, you will need one for other stuff in your basement so you might as well bite the bullet and buy a decent hammer drill. I bought a Dewalt 20V battery hammer drill and it has already paid for itself.

As far as wiring, you can surface mount conduit or Smurf tube and save on framing a wall. It is really just a matter of what your plans are and how you are most comfortable.

Check out Essential Craftsman on this subject and many others; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoXK7v9USeg. (This guy’s a pro.)

I would love to hear more about your progress on the new shop since I am dealing with some of the same challenges.
Good luck

-- I remember when Grateful wasn't Dead

View MPython's profile

MPython

166 posts in 320 days


#13 posted 09-16-2019 03:42 PM

My shop is small. I didn’t want to reduce the shop area by the thickness of a framed wall, so I have attached all of my cabinets, etc., directly to the concrete walls with French cleats. In the beginning, I fastened them with lead anchors, but in recent years I’ve used Tapcons, and they hold just fine, plus they don’t require large holes like lead anchors. If you have concrete walls, an SDS rotary hammer would be a good investment. I started with a hammer drill and struggled with it on poured concrete. I bought the low-end Bosch SDS Bulldog rotary hammer and I have used it a ton around the shop and the house. It is hands down better and easier than a hammer drill. My basement shop has poured concrete and concrete block walls. I’ve drilled many holes in both and I’ve never had a problem with structural integrity of the concrete or any water leaks.

View Mike_in_STL's profile

Mike_in_STL

993 posts in 1042 days


#14 posted 09-16-2019 03:56 PM

Treat it like framing out a basement. Pressure treated bases for your walls, standard 2×4 construction for the rest of the wall.

Use a powder actuated pin/nail driver and the appropriate pin/nail. I’m framing out my basement and have been using the yellow .22 caliber powder actuated driver to set all my bases and the concrete in my house was poured in 1967. Concrete continues to get harder as it ages. My concrete is REALLY hard and the driver buries 2 1/2 inch pins.

Put blocking in the ceiling/floor joists above you if the wall runs parallel to the direction of the joists. Blocking is wood between the joists to give your wall something to anchor to.

It’s a little more work, but the end result will likely provide more options than just anchoring to the concrete blocks.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

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ibewjon

992 posts in 3301 days


#15 posted 09-16-2019 04:39 PM

Sleeve anchors hold well in block, drop in anchors set with the proper tool hold heavy loads in concrete. Never any problems if you clean out the hole. I have installed thousands of these anchors on the job. Most engineers do not allow powder actuated anchors due to the damage they cause to the concrete or block. Lead anchors require an expensive set for use in hollow block.

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