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Wedge Anchor VS Sleeve Anchor (The Difference)

Wedge Anchor VS Sleeve Anchor (The Difference)

When a DIYer needs to fix an object onto a masonry or concrete surface, the quantity of work is considerably increased when it comes to tasks that require simple wood surfaces or drywall. This is why special equipment, tools, and methods are required for the job.

There are a variety of concrete anchors that are available and determining which are the most suitable for each job is a major challenge in itself. The two most commonly used fasteners in the masonry industry are Sleeve Anchors and Wedge Anchors.

The difference between a wedge anchor and a sleeve anchor is simply how they are applied and what material they apply to.

Sleeve anchors rely on expansion caused by torque tightening to hold inside the concrete. They are more flexible than a wedge anchor as they can be applied to concrete, bricks, and blocks.

A wedge anchor, on the other hand, is placed in drilled holes. The non-threaded end is inserted into the hole and struck to activate the expansion mechanism on the secured material. Unlike a sleeve anchor, these can only be applied to solid concrete only.

Both the sleeve anchor as well as the wedge anchors appear to be doing the same thing: expand and wedge an opening in concrete. However, the beginners might find it difficult to understand their usage. Keep reading the article to get the answers to the questions like what is the difference between them? Which is better? Or, what are the different conditions they are employed for?

Keep reading to know more.

What Are Wedge Anchors?

Sleeve Anchor Bolts and Wedge Anchor Bolts
Sleeve Anchor Bolts and Wedge Anchor Bolts

A wedge anchor is a mechanical expansion anchor specifically designed to use on solid concrete.

Wedge anchors are very popular and are thought of as one of the most durable anchors in terms of holding capacity. These anchors look like sleeve anchors but are made with a shorter sleeve at the base that anchors.

Wedge anchors are made of stainless steel construction, which makes them robust and resistant to corrosion. They are ideal for use in any type of masonry, including installation in the water and dry setting inside and outside.

For more information, have a quick look at this video:

Beginner’s Guide to Wedge Anchors

What Are Sleeve Anchors?

Sleeve anchors are relatively simple and are typically used in bricks or blocks. However, they can be utilized in concrete, but aren’t considered to be as durable as wedge anchors. 

So, for light or medium-sized holding needs, it is possible to use sleeve anchors as the ideal option.

There are two main types of sleeve anchors available: The Nut Drive which is usually employed for strength, and the Phillips/Slotted Combo Driven Flathead which is useful when a smooth surface is needed.

The weight that sleeve anchors are able to support is largely on the anchor’s dimension and the material it’s being fixed to. Anchors with sleeves generally fall in the middle-duty category (or up to 200 pounds which can be strongly secured). It is essential to review the specifications of anchors to determine whether they’re holding enough power to meet your requirements.

Application differences

Wedge anchors can be used in several different applications so long as the base material is solid concrete. Sleeve anchors, on the other hand, can be set in concrete or brick.

Anchors of different types are designed for various applications. Certain types are designed to be extremely sturdy, while others are designed to be more flexible and simpler to use.

An anchor wedge is a mechanical expansion, which is comprised of four components; the anchor body with threads, an expansion clip, a washer, and a nut. Wedge anchors offer the best and the most reliable holding value of any type of mechanical expansion anchor.

Wedge anchors can be applied to:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Signage
  • Machinery

These anchors have the best durability and great holding strength being set into the concrete. They are used for heavy-duty purposes like anchoring wooden structures onto the ground.

Sleeve anchors, on contrary, are more flexible and can be set in concrete or brick. However, they have the disadvantage of a lower holding capacity in comparison to the more specialized wedge anchor.

They’re a bit lighter-duty however, on the plus side, they come with the advantage of anchoring brick, mortal, or blocks, where wedge anchors are not advised.

Sleeve anchors can be used in various projects, such as fixing radiators at home, and for larger projects like fixing the decking’s joists.

Like wedge anchors, sleeve anchors work by extension of their wedges. By tightening the nut, it pulls the stud’s end into the expander sleeve pushing it outwards and then anchoring it into the base material securing the entire thing in the right place.

Installation differences

For the installation of an anchor wedge, it is necessary to drill an opening that’s similar to the size of the anchor and then set it in. After you’ve set the anchor’s material on the concrete surface of the exposed area, insert the washer and connect the fastener to the anchor.

When you tighten the nut on the washer it’ll at the same time draw the anchor up. This causes the skirt of your wedge to grab the concrete. It will then grow, causing it to dig into the concrete when an anchor pulls.

A person drilling the Bolts in Concrete Wall
Wedge Anchors Are Drilled Into Concrete Surface

In the case of installing wedge anchors, it is recommended to use a minimum of 2 1/2 inches of concrete. It should also have at least an inch visible, enough to allow the anchoring materials to hold to.

To set up a sleeve anchor (the one that is driven by a nut) make a hole, and put the sleeve anchor inside the hole. Set the washer and nut on the threads that are exposed and start attaching the nuts. When the anchor is pushed into the concrete, the sleeve surrounding it will begin to expand, allowing the anchor into the hole.

In all cases, the strong bond between the piece and concrete is strengthened through friction. The primary way to ensure that you have a strong bond between the anchors and the concrete is to make the correct dimensions and depth. If the hole isn’t deep, it’s likely that the anchor will break when it is time to do so, which can result in serious problems.

Minimum Length/Depth

The length that is required to anchor the sleeve is based on the thickness of the material to be fastened to the required embedment depth for the size of the anchor to be used. 

See the table below for the minimum embedment levels for various sizes of sleeve anchors:

DiameterMinimum Embedment Depth
Min. Embedment Depth for Each Diameter

When using a wedge anchor, however, the standard is that the distance between the washer and nut should be equal to the size of the wedge anchoring used.

For example, when a 2x 4 wedge is fastened to concrete using half-inch wedge anchors, then it is recommended that the length for the wedge would be 1 1/2″ (2 x 4) + 2-1/4″ (minimum embedment) + 1/2 inches (space for washer and nut) is 4-1/4″.

Also, note that the Wedge anchor bolt extends from the tube’s end into the hole in the tube sheet rolls. This causes the inner wall to expand continuously and creates plastic deformation. The tube expander must be removed so that the tube sheet’s elastic deformation can be restored to its original condition. The tube sheet will then tightly fit around the tube end, sealing it and keeping them together. However, plastic deformation at the tube end cannot ever be restored. 

How Deep Can You Put in Wedge Anchors?

For concrete wedge anchor installation, drill the hole at least half an inch deeper than the concrete wedge anchor will penetrate, or 1/2″ more than the required depth for embedding. 

With a wire brush, vacuum or compress the air and clean the holes dust, and debris.


Wedge anchors are more expensive and are often used for their strong holding capacity. While wedge anchors have the highest and most durable anchoring properties, sleeve anchors are the most flexible of fasteners

Wedge anchors are only suitable in concrete while sleeve anchor is suitable for numerous projects, not just ones that require concrete as the primary material.

While both anchors are the perfect choice for specific circumstances, keep in mind that their effectiveness is usually directly related to the correct installation.

To learn more, check out our article on “Javelin” vs. “Spear” (Comparison)

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