Sleeve Anchor vs. Wedge Anchor: What To Look Out For

Although many different types of concrete anchors abound in the market, sleeve and wedge anchors have remained at the top of the list, each performing the similar function of expanding and wedging a drilled hole in the concrete.

Regardless, there has been an age-long debate in the construction world about which type of concrete anchor is better, between sleeve and wedge anchors. While they share some similarities, they also have their differences and unique benefits.

If you need help deciding whether a sleeve or a wedge is the best concrete anchor for you, this guide will help. Keep reading to see how. 

What Is a Sleeve Anchor?

A sleeve anchor is a versatile masonry fastener designed for concrete, brick, or block base material. This versatility extends to its various diameters, lengths, and head styles, giving you a wide range of options for your construction project.

Though commonly used for light masonry application, sleeve anchors can be used for both light and heavy-duty fastening. A stainless steel or zinc-plated anchor can be used, depending on the location and environment where the sleeve anchor is installed. 

Stainless steel anchors should be used for increased rust resistance when working in outdoor environments, while zinc-plated anchors, on the other hand, can be used indoors and in dry places. The fact that these sleeve anchors come preassembled and ready to install is a bonus.

What Preparations Do You Need to Install a Sleeve Anchor?

Sleeve anchors are typically installed by pushing the anchor through a predrilled hole in the object and then into the body or surface to which it is fastened.

To determine the length of anchor required, add the thickness of the material being fastened to the minimum embedment. However, the hole should be drilled ½ inch deeper than the anchor will penetrate because the deeper the anchor is embedded in the base material, the better the holding value.

What is a Wedge Anchor?

Wedge anchors are fasteners typically used in masonry work to fix or attach objects to hard concrete. Unlike the sleeve anchor, it cannot be used in brick or block. The wedge anchor mechanism, however, is similar to that of the sleeve anchor in that the base expands while in a drilled hole.

These wedge anchors use an expansion clip to grip the walls of embedment holes while the nut is tightened at the top. The collar then expands and “wedges” itself against the material wall and shank of the bolt, thus successfully holding the fixture in place. 

Wedge anchors are usually made of four elements combined by manufacturers; the threaded anchor body, the expansion clip, a nut, and a washer. They can be used in both basic and complex works, ranging from holding objects like televisions or portraits to a concrete wall, to holding pipes in or on walls to foster connections or holding objects tightly like rods into the floor.

What Preparations Do You Need to Install a Wedge Anchor?

As opposed to the hole for a sleeve anchor, which is expected to be slightly longer, the hole size required for installation is equal to the diameter of the wedge anchor. For example, a ⅜ inch wedge anchor requires a ⅜ inch hole. 

To determine the screw length, add the material thickness to the minimum embedment of the anchor used, plus the nut and washer thickness. 

Tools for Installing Sleeve and Wedge Anchors

Though the installation process differs slightly, the tools used to install sleeve and wedge anchors are the same. Here are some of the necessary tools for a successful installation.

  1. Gloves
  1. Hammer drill
  1. Torque Wrench or ratchet 
  1. Hearing protection
  1. Safety goggles 
  1. Marker
  1. Hammer 
  1. Cleaning brush
  1. Drill Bit
  1. Vacuum 
  1. Compressed air

How to Install Sleeve and Wedge Anchors

The installation of sleeve and wedge anchors is essentially the same; however, what distinguishes them are the preparations made prior to the installation process.

Once you have the correct hole size, depending on what anchor you decide to use and the materials, you can begin installation by following these steps.

  1. Drill the Hole

Drill a hole into the base material using a hammer drill to create the best quality hole while sticking to the proper diameter and depth. To ensure this, set the depth of the hole by using the depth gauge on the hammer drill and setting it in hammer mode.

However, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding close edge distances and anchor centre spacing.

  1. Prepare the Hole

Thoroughly clean the hole of all base material dust to remove all drilling debris and ensure proper fastening. You can brush and blow with a wire brush in a vacuum or compressed air to ensure the hole is properly cleaned. 

  1. Insert the Anchor through the Hole

Place the fixture over the hole, making sure that the hole in the fixture is large enough to allow the edge anchor to be inserted through it. Then, insert the anchor through the fixture and into the base material.

  1. Tighten the Nut or Bolt 

Tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specified torque to ensure that the required clamping force is exerted through the fixture and to avoid overstressing the bolt material. When the snug is tight, it is pulled up through the sleeve, expanding it against the base material’s wall.

Differences Between a Sleeve and a Wedge Anchor

Although sleeve and wedge anchors are excellent fastening tools in the construction industry, some differences make it easier to determine which one to use for your upcoming projects.

Some major differences between these two anchors include

  1. Holding Power

Compared to sleeve anchors, which are better suited for lightweight applications, wedge anchors are suitable for both light and heavyweight applications. This is because sleeve anchors have less holding power than wedge anchors, which can be used to anchor heavier objects.

  1. Versatility

Sleeve anchors offer a range of options as they can be used for concrete, brick, and block surfaces. On the other hand, wedge anchors can only be used for solid and hard concrete surfaces.

  1. Pre-Installation Process

While both anchors require a pre-drilled hole before anything can be installed, a wedge anchor’s hole must be the exact same size as the anchor, compared to a sleeve anchor, which requires the hole to be slightly longer. 

This difference makes the installation process of the wedge anchor more complicated and challenging.

Bottom Line

Anchors are useful not only for engineers and technicians but also for household and DIY projects. We can all agree that, while both of these anchors are similar, they are not the same, as their weaknesses and strengths are tailored to your needs and the project you intend to work on.

Regardless, this is only a guide, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

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