Sleeve Anchor Vs Wedge Anchor: 3 Differences You Should Know

When choosing between different concrete anchors, it is necessary to take many factors into consideration. There’s versatility, ease of use, durability, and, of course, overall security when it comes to the holding values a sleeve anchor and wedge anchor offer.

The choice of the concrete anchor will also depend upon the difficulty of the task, the materials, the object you’re trying to attach to concrete, as well as the actual surface. The main differences between a sleeve anchor and a wedge anchor are holding power, compatibility with different surfaces, and overall versatility.

What is a sleeve anchor?

A sleeve anchor is one of the most commonly used concrete anchors and is used to secure different objects to a concrete or masonry surface.

Aside from securing different objects to a hard surface, a sleeve anchor can also be used to connect multiple concrete surfaces or to secure objects onto a brick wall. You will often hear people refer to a sleeve anchor as an anchor bolt or a two-step bolt.

The structure of a sleeve anchor usually consists of a solid metal stud (or screw) that has a cone-shaped tip and flared sides.

The outside portion of the stud or screw is protected with a metal sleeve that only allows the cone-shaped tip to extend out. At the top of the bolt, there is a nut and a washer, which make the installation process much easier while also allowing you to properly adjust the sleeve anchor.

The nut needs to be turned in order for the stud to be positioned tightly into the sleeve when the anchor bolt is installed into the concrete surface.

This allows for the flared end to enter and expand the sleeve, which will then “grab” onto the concrete surface and secure the object or the joined concrete surfaces.

Now, when installing this concrete screw on a concrete surface, it is necessary to drill an adequate hole with an identical diameter to the bolt using a hammer drill. While the hole should have the same diameter as the bolt, keep in mind that it should be a bit longer than the actual bolt, creating enough room for the sleeve anchor to be properly positioned.

Another important step in preparing the hole for sleeve anchor installation is removing all the debris from the drilling using a vacuum and a wire brush. If there is any leftover debris in the hole, it is possible that the sleeve anchor will not sit properly in the hole, which could also compromise its fastening capability.

Once the hole is ready for the concrete fastener to be installed, the sleeve anchor should be positioned into the hole and tightened with a wrench.

The process of tightening the anchor bolt depends on the model and the brand of the anchor, as different anchors may require a different number of turns to fully expand and grasp the concrete.

With some models, you may even have to use a torque wrench, which will allow you to apply the necessary amount of pressure to properly install and secure the sleeve into a concrete or brick surface.

It is also important to mention that not every model of sleeve anchor will work with every surface. If you’re working with an old, damaged surface (whether it be brick or concrete), it is necessary to choose heavy, long anchors that will be able to support this kind of structure.

Newer surfaces, on the other hand, may not require as much support, but it also depends on the weight of the object that you’re securing onto a concrete or brick surface, as well as potential external forces.

Keep in mind that sleeve anchors should be protected against corrosion and rust if they’re installed outdoors.

What is a wedge anchor?

A wedge anchor consists of two important elements: the carbon steel rod and the steel sleeve (slip), which is located around the conical portion of the rod.

Like a sleeve anchor, a wedge anchor comes with a nut and a washer, which allow for easy installation and adjustment.

A very important difference between a sleeve anchor and a wedge anchor is that the latter cannot be used on brick or block surfaces. The only material that is “compatible” with a wedge anchor bolt is solid concrete, so we could say that this is a slight limitation when it comes to compatibility with a base material and overall versatility (as compared to a sleeve anchor).

However, it is important to say that a concrete wedge anchor is available in a variety of different sizes, which makes it suitable for both heavy-duty and lighter applications.

As we’ve mentioned, you will always choose a longer, heavier anchor for older surfaces and heavier objects, while lighter anchors can be used for lighter objects and simpler tasks.

A wedge anchor can only be installed in a pre-drilled hole in solid concrete. Once they’re installed in concrete, if you want to remove wedge anchors, you will have to destroy the concrete around them.

While the hole for sleeve anchor installation is supposed to be a bit longer than the actual anchor when it comes to installing a wedge anchor, it is necessary for the hole and the anchor to be the exact same size.

Even the slightest gap between the hole and the wedge anchor could create a serious issue, which is why it is critical for the installer to use the correct drill and drill bit when making the hole. In this case, installers prefer to use a hammer drill instead of a regular power drill, since the hammer drill appears to create a neater hole.

When it comes to the holding value of a wedge anchor, just like with all concrete fastening systems, it will largely depend upon the state and the quality of the actual concrete. That said, the holding power of a wedge anchor is considered to be quite high, and it is increased with the increase of the embedment depth.

This mechanical anchor should not be installed too close to another mechanical anchor, as this kind of positioning could negatively affect the holding power of both of these wedge anchor bolts.

What are the differences between sleeve anchor and wedge anchor?

While both of these concrete fastening systems offer a high level of holding power, there are some crucial differences between them that will help you decide between a sleeve anchor and a wedge anchor for your project. 

1. Versatility

As we’ve mentioned, sleeve anchors can be used in both concrete and brick surfaces, which makes this anchor bolt an excellent wall anchor.

A wedge anchor, on the other hand, is only suitable for solid concrete surfaces and cannot be used on any brick or block materials, which is an important limitation to keep in mind when deciding between the two.

2. Holding power

While both of these anchors offer great quality and durability, there is a significant difference between the two when it comes to the overall holding power.

A wedge anchor is considered the mechanical anchor with the highest holding power and the most suitable anchor bolt for heavy-duty applications that include solid concrete surfaces. 

Wedge anchors are stainless steel constructions that are installed into solid concrete, which increases their holding values and makes them suitable for anchoring heavier objects, such as large wooden structures.

Sleeve anchors, on the other hand, do offer a higher level of versatility, while their holding values are lower compared to heavy-duty wedge anchors

3. Installation process

Since the pre-drilled hole necessary for the installation of a wedge anchor needs to be the exact same size as the anchor, we’d have to say that the installation process of this kind of anchor is usually more challenging.

On the other hand, it is recommended to make the hole for the sleeve anchor a bit longer, which will allow it to properly expand. However, there is also the possibility of making the hole too big.

Wedge anchor vs sleeve anchor: Are they the same?

While they have quite similar roles and applications, we’d have to conclude that a sleeve anchor and a wedge anchor are not the same.

Heavy-duty, solid-concrete applications require a lot of holding power, which is something a wedge anchor offers, as it is a stainless-steel anchor construction specifically designed for solid concrete.

Sleeve anchors, on the other hand, offer far more versatility, as they’re suitable not only for concrete surfaces but also for brick and block surfaces.

These anchors are quite easy to install and work with, and you can also use them to hang objects onto both brick and block surfaces, which is something wedge anchors cannot be used for. 

Finally, when it comes to the installation process, many installers will agree that wedge anchors do require more time and effort, as you’ll need to create a pre-drilled hole that is the exact same size as the actual anchor.

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