7 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 07

    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 07

    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 6 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.

  • 03 of 07

    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 07

    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: tiny hooks, picture hangers, broom hooks, 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 5 pounds for things like large framed canvas pictures. Be sure to clean the cinder block with rubbing alcohol first for maximum adhesion.

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  • 05 of 07

    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. The downside of landscape adhesive is that it is difficult to remove from the wall. Even if you do pry off the item, you're left with cured adhesive residue that's hard to remove.

  • 06 of 07

    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 1 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.


    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 07

    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 2 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.