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Supplemental Topics for Anchors

Technical and Installation Notes

I. Base Materials

"Base material" is a generic industry term that refers to the element or substrate to be anchored to. Base materials include concrete, brick, concrete block (CMU) and structural tile, to name a few. The most common type of base material where adhesive and mechanical anchors are used is concrete.

Concrete – Concrete can be cast-in-place or precast concrete. Concrete has excellent compressive strength, but relatively low tensile strength. Cast-in-place (or sometimes called "poured in place") concrete is placed in forms erected on the building site. Cast-in-place concrete can be either normal-weight or lightweight concrete. Lightweight concrete is often specified when it is desirable to reduce the weight of the building structure.

Lightweight concrete differs from normal-weight concrete by the weight of aggregate used in the mixture. Normal-weight concrete has a unit weight of approximately 150 pounds per cubic foot compared to approximately 115 pounds per cubic foot for lightweight concrete.

The type of aggregate used in concrete can affect the tension capacity of an adhesive anchor. Presently, the relationship between aggregate properties and anchor performance is not well understood. Test results should not be assumed to be representative of expected performance in all types of concrete aggregate.

Prefabricated concrete is also referred to as "precast concrete". Precast concrete can be made at a prefabricating plant or site-cast in forms constructed on the job. Precast concrete members may be solid or may contain hollow cores. Many precast components have thinner cross sections than cast in place concrete. Precast concrete may use either normal or lightweight concrete. Reinforced concrete contains steel bars, cable, wire mesh or random glass fibers. The addition of reinforcing material enables concrete to resist tensile stresses which lead to cracking.

The compressive strength of concrete can range from 2,000 psi to over 20,000 psi, depending on the mixture and how it is cured. Most concrete mixes are designed to obtain the desired properties within 28 days after being cast.

Concrete Masonry Units (CMU) — Block is typically formed with large hollow cores. Block with a minimum 75% solid cross section is called solid block even though it contains hollow cores. In many parts of the country building codes require steel reinforcing bars to be placed in the hollow cores, and the cores to be filled solid with grout.

In some areas of the eastern United States, past practice was to mix concrete with coal cinders to make cinder blocks. Although cinder blocks are no longer made, there are many existing buildings where they can be found. Cinder blocks require special attention as they soften with age.

Brick — Clay brick is formed solid or with hollow cores. The use of either type will vary in different parts of the United States. Brick can be difficult to drill and anchor into. Most brick is hard and brittle. Old, red clay brick is often very soft and is easily over-drilled. Either of these situations can cause problems in drilling and anchoring. The most common use of brick today is for building facades (curtain wall or brick veneer) and not for structural applications. Brick facade is attached to the structure by the use of brick ties spaced at intervals throughout the wall. In older buildings, multiple widths, or "wythes" of solid brick were used to form the structural walls. Three and four wythe walls were common wall thicknesses.

Clay Tile — Clay tile block is formed with hollow cores and narrow cavity wall cross sections. Clay tile is very brittle, making drilling difficult without breaking the block. Caution must be used in attempting to drill and fasten into clay tile.

II. Anchor Failure Modes

Four different tension failure modes and three different shear failure modes are generally observed for post-installed anchors under tension loading.

Failure Modes
Tension Shear
Steel Fracture
Pullout (Mechanical Anchor)
Bond Failure (Adhesive Anchor)
Steel Fracture

Breakout Failure — Breakout failure occurs when the base material ruptures, often producing a cone-shaped failure surface when anchors are located away from edges, or producing a spall when anchors are located near edges. Breakout failure can occur for both mechanical and adhesive anchors and is generally observed at shallower embedment depths, and for installations at less than critical spacings or edge distances.

Pullout Failure — Pullout failure occurs when a mechanical anchor pulls out of the drilled hole, leaving the base material otherwise largely intact.

Bond Failure — Bond failure occurs when an adhesive anchor pulls out of the drilled hole due to an adhesion failure at the adhesive-to-basematerial interface, or when there is a cohesive failure within the adhesive itself. When bond failure occurs, a shallow cone-shaped breakout failure surface will often form near the base material surface. This breakout surface is not the primary failure mechanism.

Pryout Failure — Pryout failure occurs for shallowly embedded anchors when a base material failure surface is pried out "behind" the anchor, opposite the direction of the applied shear force.

Steel Fracture — Steel fracture occurs when anchor spacings, edge distances and embedment depths are great enough to prevent the base-material–related failure modes listed above and the steel strength of the mechanical anchor or adhesive anchor insert is the limiting strength.

III. Corrosion Resistance

Many environments and materials can cause corrosion, including ocean salt air, fire-retardants, fumes, fertilizers, preservative-treated wood, de-icing salts, dissimilar metals and more. Metal fixtures, fasteners and anchors can corrode and lose load-carrying capacity when installed in corrosive environments or when installed in contact with corrosive materials.

The many variables present in a building environment make it impossible to accurately predict if, or when, corrosion will begin or reach a critical level. This relative uncertainty makes it crucial that specifiers and users are knowledgeable about the potential risks and select a product suitable for the intended use. It is also prudent that regular maintenance and periodic inspections are performed, especially for outdoor applications.

It is common to see some corrosion in outdoor applications. Even stainless steel can corrode. The presence of some corrosion does not mean that load capacity has been affected or that failure is imminent. If significant corrosion is apparent or suspected, then the fixtures, fasteners and connectors should be inspected by a qualified engineer or qualified inspector. Replacement of affected components may be appropriate.

Chemical Attack — Chemical attack occurs when the anchor material is not resistant to a substance with which it is in contact. Chemical-resistance information regarding anchoring adhesives is found in section V on this page.

Some wood-preservative chemicals and fire-retardant chemicals and retentions pose increased corrosion potential and are more corrosive to steel anchors and fasteners than others. Additional information on this subject is available at strongtie.com.

We have attempted to provide basic knowledge on the subject of corrosion here, but it is important to fully educate yourself by reviewing our technical bulletins on the topic (strongtie.com/info) and also by reviewing information, literature and evaluation reports published by others.

Galvanic Corrosion — Galvanic corrosion occurs when two electrochemically dissimilar metals contact each other in the presence of an electrolyte (such as water) that acts as a conductive path for metal ions to move from the more anodic to the more cathodic metal. In the galvanic couple, the more anodic metal will corrode preferentially. The Galvanic Series of Metals table provides a qualitative guide to the potential for two metals to interact galvanically. Metals in the same group (see table) have similar electrochemical potentials. The farther the metals are apart on the table, the greater the difference in electrochemical potential, and the more rapidly galvanic corrosion will occur. Corrosion also increases with increasing conductivity of the electrolyte.

Good detailing practice, including the following, can help reduce the possibility of galvanic corrosion of anchors:

  • Use of anchors and metals with similar electrochemical potentials
  • Separating dissimilar metals with insulating materials
  • Ensuring that the anchor is the anode, when dissimilar materials are present.
  • Preventing exposure to and pooling of electrolytes
Galvanic Series of Metals
Corroded End (Anode)
Magnesium alloys
Aluminum 1100
Aluminum 2024-T4
Iron and Steel
Nickel (active)
Inconel Ni-Cr alloy (active)
Hastelloy alloy C (active)
Cu-Ni alloys
Nickel (passive)
304 stainless steel (passive)
316 stainless steel (passive)
Hasteloy alloy C (passive)
Protected End (Cathode)

Hydrogen-Assisted Stress-Corrosion Cracking

Some hardened fasteners may experience premature failure if exposed to moisture as a result of hydrogen-assisted stress-corrosion cracking. These fasteners are recommended specifically for use in dry, interior locations.

Minimum Corrosion Resistance Recommendations
Corrosion Resistance Classification Material or Coating
Zinc plated
Mechanically galvanized (ASTM B695-Class 55)1
Ceramic coating
Hot-dip galvanized (ASTM A153-Class C)
Type 410 stainless steel with protective top coat
High Type 302, 303 or 304 stainless steel
Severe Type 316 stainless steel
1. Mechanically galvanized Titen HD® anchors are recommended only for temporary outdoor service.
Corrosion Resistance Classifications
Environment Material To Be Fastened
Untreated Wood or Other Material Preservative-Treated Wood FRT Wood
SBX-DOT Zinc Borate Chemical Retention ≤ AWPA, UC4A Chemical Retention > AWPA, UC4A ACZA Other or Uncertain
Dry Service Low Low Low High High High Med
Wet Service Med N/A Med High High High High
Elevated Service High N/A Severe Severe High Severe N/A
Uncertain High High High Severe High Severe High
Ocean/Waterfront Severe N/A Severe Severe Severe Severe N/A
  1. These are general guidelines that may not consider all application criteria. Refer to product-specific information for additional guidance.
  2. Type 316/305/304 stainless-steel products are recommended where preservative-treated wood used in ground contact has chemical retention level greater than those for AWPA UC4A; CA-C, 0.15 pcf; CA-B, 0.21 pcf; micronized CA-C, 0.14 pcf; micronized CA-B, 0.15 pcf; ACQ-Type D (or C), 0.40 pcf.
  3. Testing by Simpson Strong-Tie following ICC-ES AC257 showed that mechanical galvanization (ASTM B695, Class 55), Quik Guard coating, and Double Barrier coating will provide corrosion resistance equivalent to hot-dip galvanization (ASTM A153, Class D) in contact with chemically treated wood in dry service and wet service exposures (AWPA UC1 – UC4A, ICC-ES AC257 Exposure Conditions 1 and 3) and will perform adequately subject to regular maintenance and periodic inspection.
  4. Mechanical galvanizations C3 and N2000 should not be used in conditions that would be more corrosive than AWPA UC3A (exterior, above ground, rapid water run off).
  5. If uncertain about Use Category, treatment chemical, or environment, use Types 316/305/304 stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper fasteners.
  6. Some treated wood may have excess surface chemicals making it potentially more corrosive than lower retentions. If this condition is suspected, use Types 316/305/304 stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper fasteners.
  7. Types 316/305/304 stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper fasteners are the best recommendation for ocean salt-air and other chloride-containing environments. Hot-dip galvanized fasteners with at least ASTM A153, Class C protection can also be an alternate for some applications in environments with ocean air and/or elevated wood moisture content.

IV. Mechanical Anchors

Pre-Load Relaxation

Expansion anchors that have been set to the required installation torque in concrete will experience a reduction in pre-tension (due to torque) within several hours. This is known as pre-load relaxation. The high compression stresses placed on the concrete cause it to deform which results in a relaxation of the pre-tension force in the anchor. Tension in this context refers to the internal stresses induced in the anchor as a result of applied torque and does not refer to anchor capacity. Historical data shows it is normal for the initial tension values to decrease by as much as 40–60% within the first few hours after installation. Retorquing the anchor to the initial installation torque is not recommended or necessary.

V. Adhesive Anchors

Installation into Green Concrete

The strength design data for adhesive anchors in this catalog are based on installations into concrete that is at least 21-days old. For anchors installed into concrete that has cured for less than 21 days, refer to the following modification factors that should be applied to the published adhesive bond strength.

Products Concrete Age When Installed Concrete Age When Loaded Bond Strength Factor
14 days 21 days 1.0
14 days 0.9
7 days 21 days 1.0
7 days 0.7

Oversized Holes

The performance data for adhesive anchors are based upon anchor tests in which holes were drilled with carbide-tipped drill bits of the same diameter listed in the product's load table. Additional static tension tests were conducted to qualify anchors installed with SET-3G™, SET, SET-XP®, ET-HP® and AT adhesives for installation in holes with diameters larger than those listed in the load tables. The tables indicate the acceptable range of drilled hole sizes and the corresponding tension-load reduction factor (if any). The same conclusions also apply to the published shear load values. Drilled holes outside of the accepted range shown in the charts are not recommended.

SET Adhesive – Acceptable Hole Diameter
Insert Diameter (in.) Acceptable Hole Diameter Range (in.) Acceptable Load Reduction Factor
3/8 1/2 - 3/4 1.0
1/2 5/8 - 1 5/16 1.0
5/8 3/4 - 1 1/8 1.0
3/4 7/8 - 1 5/16 1.0
7/8 1 - 1 1/2 1.0
1 1 1/8 - 1 11/16 1.0
1 1/8 1 1/4 - 1 7/8 1.0
1 1/4 1 3/8 - 2 1/16 1.0
1 3/8 1 1/2- 2 1/4 1.0
SET-XP and ET-HP Adhesives – Acceptable Hole Diameter
Insert Diameter (in.) Acceptable Hole Diameter Range (in.) Acceptable Load Reduction Factor
1/2 5/8 - 3/4 1.0
5/8 3/4 - 15/16 1.0
3/4 7/8 - 1 1/8 1.0
7/8 1 - 1 5/16 1.0
1 1 1/8 - 1 1/2 1.0
1 1/4 1 3/8 - 1 7/8 1.0
AT Adhesive – Acceptable Hole Diameter
Insert Diameter (in.) Acceptable Hole Diameter Range (in.) Acceptable Load Reduction Factor
3/8 7/16 - 1/2 1.0
1/2 9/16 - 5/8 1.0
5/8 11/16 - 3/4 1.0
3/4 13/16 - 7/8 1.0
7/8 1 1.0
1 1 1/16 - 1 1/8 .75 for 1 1/8 only

Core-Drilled Holes

The performance data for adhesive anchors are based upon anchor tests in which holes were drilled with carbide-tipped drill bits. Additional static tension tests were conducted to qualify anchors installed with SET-3G, SET-XP, ET-HP, SET and AT anchoring adhesives for installation in holes drilled with diamond-core bits. In these tests, the diameter of the diamond-core bit matched the diameter of the carbidetipped drill bit recommended in the product's load table. The test results showed that no reduction of the published allowable tension load for SET and AT anchoring adhesives is necessary for this condition. SET-3G, SET-XP, and ET-HP anchoring adhesive require a reduction factor of 0.7 is applied to the characteristic bond strength (τk). The same conclusions also apply to the published allowable shear loads. Tests conducted in core-drilled holes are for non-IBC jurisdictions.

Installation in Damp, Wet and Submerged Environments

SET-XP, SET-3G, ET-HP and AT-XP: The performance data for adhesive anchors using SET-XP, SET-3G, ET-HP and AT-XP adhesives are based upon tests according to ICC-ES AC308. This criteria requires adhesive anchors that are to be installed in outdoor environments to be tested in water-saturated concrete holes that have been cleaned with less than the amount of hole cleaning recommended by the manufacturer. A product's sensitivity to this installation condition is considered in determining the product's "Anchor Category" (strength reduction factor).

SET-XP, ET-HP and AT-XP may be installed in dry or water-saturated concrete.

SET-3G may be installed in dry, water-saturated or water-filled holes in concrete.

Reliability Testing per ICC-ES AC308 is defined as:

  • Dry Concrete — Cured concrete whose moisture content is in equilibrium with surrounding non-precipitate atmospheric conditions.
  • Water-Saturated Concrete — Cured concrete that is covered with water and water saturated.
  • Submerged Concrete — Cured concrete that is covered with water and water saturated.
  • Water-Filled Hole — Drilled hole in water-saturated concrete that is clean yet contains standing water at the time of installation.

SET and AT:

The performance data for adhesive anchors using SET and AT adhesives are based upon tests in which anchors are installed in dry holes. Additional static tension tests were conducted for some products in damp holes, water-filled holes and submerged holes. The legacy test results show that no reduction of the published allowable tension load is necessary for SET and AT adhesives in damp holes, or for SET and AT adhesives in water-filled holes. For SET and AT adhesives in submerged holes, the test results show that a reduction factor of 0.60 is applicable. The same conclusions also apply to the published allowable shear load values.

Reliability Testing per ICC-ES AC58 is defined as:

  • Dry Concrete — Cured concrete whose moisture content is in equilibrium with surrounding non-precipitate atmospheric conditions.
  • Damp Hole — A damp hole, as defined in ASTM E1512 and referenced in ICC-ES AC58, is a drilled hole that has been properly drilled, cleaned and then is filled with standing water for seven days. After seven days, the standing water is blown out of the hole with compressed air and the adhesive anchor is installed.
  • Water-Filled Hole — A water-filled hole is defined similarly to a damp hole; however, the standing water is not blown out of the hole. Instead, the adhesive is injected directly into the water-filled hole (from the bottom of the hole up) and the insert is installed.
  • Submerged Hole — A submerged hole is similar to a water-filled hole with one major exception — in addition to standing water within the hole, water also completely covers the surface of the base material.

*Note that drilling debris and sludge should be removed from the drilled hole prior to installation. ICC-ES AC58 does not address this condition.

Elevated In-Service Temperature

The performance of all adhesive anchors is affected by elevated base material temperature. The in-service temperature sensitivity table provided for each adhesive provides the information necessary to apply the appropriate load adjustment factor to either the allowable tension based on bond strength or allowable shear based on concrete edge distance for a given base material temperature. While there is no commonly used method to determine the exact load-adjustment factor, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when designing an anchor that will be subject to elevated base-material temperature. In any case, the final decision must be made by a qualified design professional using sound engineering judgment:

  • When designing an anchor connection to resist wind and/or seismic forces only, the effect of fire (elevated temperature) may be disregarded.
  • The base-material temperature represents the average internal temperature and, hence, the temperature along the entire bonded length of the anchor.
  • The effects of elevated temperature may be temporary. If the in-service temperature of the base material is elevated such that a load-adjustment factor is applicable but, over time, the temperature is reduced to a temperature below which a load-adjustment factor is applicable, the full allowable load based on bond strength is still applicable. This is applicable provided that the degradation temperature of the anchoring adhesive (350°F for SET-3G, SET-XP, SET, ET-HP, AT-XP and AT adhesives) has not been reached.

Chemical Resistance of Adhesive Anchors

  • Samples of Simpson Strong-Tie anchoring adhesives were immersed in the chemicals shown here until they exhibited minimal weight change (indicating saturation) or for a maximum of three months.
  • The samples were then tested according to ASTM D 543 Standard Practices for Evaluating the Resistance of Plastics to Chemical Changes, Procedures I & II, and either ASTMD 790 Standard Test Method for Flexural Properties of Unreinforced and Reinforced Plastics and Electrical Insulating Materials or ASTM D 695 Standard Test Method for Compressive Properties of Rigid Plastics.
  • In cases where mild chemicals were evaluated, the exposure was accelerated per ASTM D 3045 Standard Practice for Heat Aging of Plastics Without Load.
  • Samples showing no visible damage and demonstrating statistically equivalent strength and elastic modulus as compared to control samples were classified as "Resistant" (R).
    • These adhesives are considered suitable for continuous exposure to the identified chemical when used as a part of an adhesive anchor assembly.
  • Samples exhibiting slight damage, such as swelling or crazing, or not demonstrating both statistically equivalent strength and elastic modulus as compared to control samples were classified a "Non-Resistant" (NR).
    • These adhesives are considered suitable for periodic exposure to the identified chemical if the chemical will be diluted and washed away from the adhesive anchor assembly after exposure, or if only emergency contact with the chemical is expected and subsequent replacement of the anchor would be undertaken.
    • Some manufacturers refer to this as "limited resistance" or "partial resistance" in their literature.
  • Samples that were completely destroyed by the chemical, or that demonstrated a significant loss in strength after exposure were classified as "Failed" (F).
    • These adhesives are considered unsuitable for exposure to the identified chemical.

Note: In most actual service conditions, the majority of the anchoring adhesive is not exposed to the chemical and thus some period of time is required for the chemical to saturate the entire adhesive. An adhesive anchor would be expected to maintain bond strength and creep resistance until a significant portion of the adhesive is saturated.

Chemical Concentration AT-XP SET-XP ET-HP AT SET
Acetic Acid Glacial NR F F F F
5% R F F R F
Acetone 100% F F F -- --
Aluminum Ammonium Sulfate (Ammonium Alum) 10% R R R R R
Aluminum Chloride 10% R R R -- --
Aluminum Potassium Sulfate (Potassium Alum) 10% R R R R R
Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) 15% R R R R R
Ammonium Hydroxide (Ammonia) 28% NR R NR R R
10% R R R R R
pH=10 R R R -- --
Ammonium Nitrate 15% R R R R R
Ammonium Sulfate 15% R R R R R
Automotive Antifreeze 50% R R R -- --
Aviation Fuel (JP5) 100% R R R -- --
Brake Fluid (DOT3) 100% R NR F -- --
Calcium Hydroxide 10% R R R -- --
Calcium Hypochlorite (Chlorinated Lime) 15% R R R R R
Calcium Oxide (Lime) 5% R R R R R
Carbolic Acid 10% NR F F -- --
5% NR F F -- --
Carbon Tetrachloride 100% R R R -- --
Chromic Acid 40% R NR NR -- --
Citric Acid 10% R R R -- --
Copper Sulfate 10% R R R -- --
Detergent (ASTM D543) 100% R R R -- --
Diesel Oil 100% R R NR -- --
Ethanol, Aqueous 95% NR F F -- --
50% NR NR NR -- --
Ethanol, Denatured 100% R F F -- --
Ethylene Glycol 100% R R R -- --
Fluorosilicic Acid 25% R R R R R
Formic Acid Concentrated F F F -- --
10% R F F -- --
Gasoline 100% R R R -- --
Hydrochloric Acid Concentrated NR F F R F
10% R NR F R NR
pH=3 R R R -- --
Hydrogen Peroxide 30% R F F R F
3% R R R R NR
Iron (II) Chloride (Ferrous Chloride) 15% R R R R R
Iron (III) Chloride (Ferric Chloride) 15% R R R R NR
Iron (III) Sulfate (Ferric Sulfate) 10% R R F -- --
Isopropanol 100% R F F -- --
Lactic Acid 85% R F F -- --
10% R F F -- --
Machine Oil 100% R R R -- --
Methanol 100% NR F F -- --
Methyl Ethyl Ketone 100% NR F F -- --
Methyl Isobutyl Ketone 100% NR NR NR -- --
Mineral Oil 100% R R R -- --
Mineral Spirits 100% R R R -- --
Mixture of Amines1 100% R F F -- --
Mixture of Aromatics2 100% NR NR R -- --
Motor Oil (5W30) 100% R R R -- --
N,N-Diethyaniline 100% R R R -- --
Nitric Acid Concentrated F F F F F
40% NR F F F F
10% R R F R NR
pH=3 R R R -- --
Phosphoric Acid 85% R F F F F
40% R F F R NR
10% R F F R NR
pH=3 R R R -- --
Potassium Hydroxide 40% NR R NR -- --
10% NR R R -- --
pH=13.2 R R R -- --
Potassium Permanganate 10% R R R R R
Propylene Glycol 100% R R NR -- --
Seawater (ASTM D1141) 100% R R R -- --
Soap (ASTM D543) 100% R R R -- --
Sodium Bicarbonate 10% R R R R R
Sodium Bisulfite 15% R R R R NR
Sodium Carbonate 15% R R R R R
Sodium Chloride 15% R R R R R
Sodium Fluoride 10% R R R R R
Sodium Hexafluorosilicate (Sodium Silicon Fluoride) 5% R R R R R
Sodium Hydrosulfide 10% R R R -- --
Sodium Hydroxide 60% R R R -- --
40% R R R -- --
10% R R R -- --
pH=10 R R R -- --
Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) 25% R R R R R
10% R R R R R
Sodium Nitrate 15% R R R R R
Sodium Phosphate (Trisodium Phosphate) 10% R R R R R
Sodium Silicate 50% R R R R R
Sulfuric Acid Concentrated F F F F F
30% R NR F R NR
3% R NR F R NR
pH=3 R R R -- --
Toluene 100% NR F NR -- --
Triethanol Amine 100% R NR R -- --
Turpentine 100% R R R -- --
Water 100% R R R R R
Xylene 100% NR NR R -- --
"R" – Resistant, "NR" – Non-Resistant, "F" – Failed, "--" – Not tested
  1. triethanol amine, n-butylamine, N,N-dimethylamine
  2. toluene, methyl naphthalene, xylene