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Infrastructure Applications for Adhesive Anchors

Adhesive anchors are used with increasing frequency throughout the world of construction, particularly for civil projects that tend to have tight deadlines and budgets, must hold up for decades, and are often outside and exposed to the elements. In fact, the market for the adhesives used to secure anchors within concrete, masonry, and similar substrates is predicted to grow by almost 5% in the next five years.

How Do Adhesive Anchors Work?

Adhesive anchors (also known as chemical anchors) can be just as strong as, if not stronger than, post-installation mechanical anchors. As the epoxy or other adhesive they're held in place by both spreads the load placed upon them evenly and supports much of it once cured, this kind of anchoring system doesn't have any pressure points. This means adhesive anchors can be used to install rebar and create concrete to concrete in large infrastructure projects like roadways and bridges, as well as non-structural applications like securing signage.

Just like with other post-installation mechanical anchors, such as expanding anchors, screw anchors, and undercut anchors, adhesive anchors are often made up of a threaded rod in steel or other treated metals.

To install adhesive anchors, you have to:

  • Drill a pilot hole or borehole deeper and wider than your anchor (a perfect hole is not needed for chemical anchors as the     adhesive fills the hole, including and imperfections).

  • Carefully clear the hole of concrete dust and debris to allow visibility and clean bonding.

  • Insert adhesive into your hole. Many adhesives are two-part mixtures that have to be inserted together using an adhesive anchor     dispensing gun.

  • Insert your anchor (this will usually be a rod, threaded rod, or rebar), making sure the adhesive forms a seal that will protect the     metal from weather or chemical erosion.

Once your adhesive has dried — a minimum of 24 hours for the fastest drying epoxy option — it is that adhesive that will bear the weight of any load put upon your anchor. With modern adhesives, this option of the load being transferred by the bond means a stronger anchor point than anything but anchors, which are tricky to place.

Types of Adhesives Used For Adhesive Anchors

There are various types of adhesive anchors. You should choose your adhesive based on the environment it will be placed in, the forces it will be exposed to, and the other materials you are using (including the substrate within which it will be placed). Broadly, the adhesive types suitable for installing anchors within infrastructure are usually:

Epoxy acrylate chemical anchor: This extremely hard-wearing adhesive is perfect for use in corrosive or damp environments. It can be used in solid and hollow substrates and is often the best option for public utility projects.

Polyester chemical anchor: An injectable two-part adhesive, polyester chemical anchors hold up to medium loads. 

Pure epoxy chemical anchor: With pure epoxy, the bond the anchor creates is stronger than almost any substrate it might be used in. Unsaturated polyester chemical anchor:​

Adhesive Anchors - Infrastructure Applications for Adhesive Anchors
These polyester-based anchors range from medium strength to very high. The strongest of them can be used for rebar and cracked concrete. Designed specifically for the construction industry, pure epoxy chemical anchors work in cracked concrete and for close-to-edge fixing.

Hybrid systems: Hybrid systems are often used for installing both threaded rods and rebar into concrete. This means it can be used for concrete-to-concrete connections as well as to support steel beams or columns in a concrete-to-metal connection.

What Are The Most Popular Infrastructure Applications for Adhesive Anchors?

Adhesive anchors are used across infrastructure projects, both large and small. They are hard-wearing and offer flexibility on the jobsite when compared to post-installation mechanical anchors without adhesive and cast-in-place mechanical anchors. There is, in other words, some margin for error in both design and execution when installing mechanical anchors as part of an infrastructure project.

They are particularly suitable for outdoor applications where they will be exposed to the elements. Apart from some temperature restrictions (which vary depending on the exact adhesive used), adhesive anchors stand up well to weather, including precipitation and condensation.

You may need to be more mindful of the metal fixture inserted into the concrete or masonry and how likely it is to rust or corrode than of how long your adhesive will hold up. Stainless steel and coated metals work best in exposed environments and on large infrastructure projects that will be heavily trafficked or in daily use.

Types of infrastructure projects that commonly use adhesive anchoring include:

Bridge construction
Adhesives are often used in combination with rebar to repair bridges where they have become damaged, or to strengthen and/or widen bridges that are receiving heavier use than they were initially built to accommodate. This kind of anchoring is concrete-to-concrete and has to withstand heavy loads.

Roadway Projects
Adhesive anchors connect concrete to concrete in road improvement projects and when building new highways. They act in the same way for airport runways, warehouses, and any other concrete structures designed to support cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Hybrid or pure epoxy adhesives are most often used in bridge and roadway projects.

Signage, Bollards, and Temporary Barriers

On both bridge and road projects, adhesive anchors are used to:

  • Attach metal to concrete
  • Mount barriers
  • Support bollards
  • Mount guardrails
  • Erect light poles and streetlights
  • Support overhead signage

They are also sometimes used to erect temporary barriers around jobsites. Polyester adhesives are usually used for this kind of project.

Utility and Wastewater Projects
Both concrete-to-concrete and concrete-to-metal attachments by adhesive anchors are used for heavy-duty public works projects like electricity and water plants. They can support the necessary heavy loads needed for these kinds of public utility projects, as well as protect the metal elements of the anchor from water and chemical exposure. Additionally, adhesive anchors sometimes support tunneling projects, cell towers, and more. Hybrid and epoxy acrylate adhesives are usually used for larger, heavy-duty utility projects.

Any Project When the psi of Concrete is Unknown
As adhesive anchors don’t transfer any of the load put on them to the substrate they are placed in, they can be used when there’s a danger of concrete cracking. This includes when you’re working with concrete of unknown or low psi, and for close-to-edge fixing and group anchoring that might otherwise compromise the substrate.

Why White Cap?

At White Cap, we supply everything you need to install adhesive anchors. Whether you shop online or visit one of our 360+ brick and mortar stores, you’ll find epoxies, adhesive anchor dispensing guns, and accessories like adhesive anchoring brushes and nozzles.

If you need help deciding what sort of adhesive and anchor is right for your next job in infrastructure, get in touch with a local White Cap Expert today. It’s a quick online form, and you’ll get a phone call, ongoing support, and up-to-date local knowledge, including the kind of adhesives needed for likely weather conditions. We also offer financing and procurement assistance for Government projects.
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