8 Ways to Attach Things to Cinder Block Walls

Painted cinder block wall

 

Eric Ferguson / Getty Images

Great things were meant to be displayed. When the wall is cinder block, though, it can be a challenge to make those things stick. Because cinder block is hard like concrete, it's no simple matter to nail or screw into it. Its surface is porous, so tape tends to pull away.

Yet there are a number of temporary methods that help you attach—and later remove—those pictures, framed prints, cards, and posters. Plus, there are a few permanent ways to help you attach heavier items like shelves with relative ease.

  • 01 of 08

    Mounting Putty

    Mounting putty is a sticky, clay-like material that comes in sticks or cubes. It's rolled into balls by hand and used as a substitute for pushpins or tacks.

    Mounting putty is especially good for cinder block walls, because it is thick enough to fill in cinder block's bumpy surface. It's best for light-weight items up to an ounce or two like cards, posters, photos, and drawings. Because it can be mounded up, it can even hold light-weight decorative objects like coins or keys.

    Mounting putty can be removed, leaving behind little to no oily residue. It can be reused a number of times.

  • 02 of 08

    Hardwall Hangers

    Hardwall hangers are heavy-duty plastic hooks that come with several embedded metal pins for attaching items to cinder blocks, mortar, and other hard materials. The pins are stepped back and ready for hammering.

    Hardwall hangers have weight limits ranging from six to 25 pounds and are best for items such as coats, umbrellas, mirrors, and large framed pictures. Hardwall hangers are used only for hanging items and cannot be used to mount a shelf.

    Hardwall hangers are semi-permanent. So, with a claw hammer, it's easy to pull out the plastic hook. Because the pins have no heads, the hook will pull straight out, leaving the pins behind. Removing the pins can take some effort, but if you manage to do so, you're left with only a few small holes that can be patched over.

    Be careful when hammering items into cinder block. The cinder block material is quite brittle, especially in the hollow areas of the block. An errant hammer blow might actually puncture a hole in the block, if it happens to land in the wrong spot.

  • 03 of 08

    Hot Melt Glue

    Glue guns heat up a solid glue stick that enters the gun from the back. With the push of a trigger, the user forces the melted portion through a nozzle and onto the surface you want to glue.

    Though glue guns are most often used for hobbies and crafts, many users swear by them for sticking things to cinder blocks. Since hot glue warps paper, it's best for sticking solid objects to cinder block rather than posters and pictures.

    Curing time is fast: just a couple of minutes. The holding capacity of hot glue on the cinder block is only a few ounces. For extra holding capacity, look for construction-grade hot melt glue sticks. If you go that route, you'll also need to purchase a high-temperature hot melt gun.

  • 04 of 08

    Self-Adhesive Hooks

    Self-adhesive hangers are foam-backed devices that stick to a wall by peeling off the back protective coating to reveal the adhesive. They come in a variety of types, including tiny hooks, picture hangers, broom hooks, and utility hooks.

    The thin foam backing helps the hooks stick to the cinder block. Most self-adhesive hooks are meant for light-weight items only, but some are rated up to five pounds for things like large framed canvas pictures. Be sure to clean the cinder block with rubbing alcohol first for maximum adhesion.

    If you've removed a foam-backed adhesive hook and you're left with gummy adhesive residue on the cinder block, remove it with mineral spirits or isopropyl alcohol.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Landscape Block Adhesive

    Adhesives tend to shy away from porous materials like cinder block. But landscape block adhesive loves to stick to cinder block and it stays stuck for a long time.

    Landscape block adhesive is a paste-like heavy-duty exterior adhesive used for things like attaching block caps to retaining walls. But it can be used whenever you need a reliable cinder block adhesive.

    Use landscape block adhesive for permanently attaching medium-weight items like shelves that are no more than 50 pounds.

    Use landscape adhesive judiciously and only for permanent additions to the cinder block. That's because landscape adhesive is difficult to remove from the wall. Even if you do manage to pry off the item, you're left with cured, hardened adhesive residue that's nearly impossible to remove.

  • 06 of 08

    Concrete Screws

    Concrete screws are sturdy, plastic-coated screws with chisel-type edges that cut threads into cinder block and other masonry materials. A hole 1/4 inch deeper than the concrete screw's depth should be drilled first with a cordless drill or hammer drill.

    Light-weight concrete screws 3/16 inch in diameter and one inch long have a shear (or breaking) strength rating of 720 pounds. It's important to remember that these ratings apply only to the screws, not to the item being mounted or to the cinder block. But it's safe to say that correctly-installed concrete screws in cinder block will be strong enough to hold up shelves or a small floating writing desk.

    Tip

    Concrete screws require specific-sized drilled holes to accommodate the size of the fastener being used. Most brands of concrete screws will specify the size of drill bit required on the packaging, and some brands even include the correct size bit in the package.

  • 07 of 08

    Expansion Bolts

    Expansion or toggle bolts have a spring-loaded wing section that compresses to fit into a hole. The hole must terminate in an open cavity. Once the bolt's wing is completely within the cavity, it springs open and holds the bolt in place.

    Since cinder blocks are hollow inside, they are an ideal match for expansion bolts. The bolt must be at least two inches long to clear the cinder block's outer wall and reach the inner cavity.

    Once the bolt is in place, it is extremely strong, and it's capable of holding up shelves packed with heavy items.

  • 08 of 08

    Self-Sticking Display Strips

    For sticking lightweight things to cinder block walls, display strips are perfect.

    Display strips come in rolls 1-1/2 inches wide by 12 feet long. The adhesive is activated by a water mist. When the adhesive loses its stickiness, it's easily rejuvenated by an additional spritz of water.

    Display strips stick to cinder block walls, and things stick to the display strips: artwork, drawings, photos, maps, school schedules. Made of lightweight fabric, display strips are removable and can be moved to another location. Because display strips are non-marking, they leave the previous surface in perfect condition.