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What is a U Bolt?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A U bolt is a bolt that is shaped like the letter U, with two threaded arms protruding from a curved base. There are a number of uses for these bolts, and a wide variety of sizes are usually available at hardware stores in boxes and as individually sold bulk items. Keeping a few around the house can be useful for people who embark on home improvement projects, as the distinctive design can make them very versatile and highly useful in some surprising settings.

A variety of metals can be used to make U bolts, including galvanized and stainless steel. The threaded ends are designed to be used with screws and washers. In some cases, people may also use a crosspiece which spans both threaded arms of the bolt, to make it more secure in certain settings and uses. Like other bolts, they are designed to be inserted through holes that have already been drilled or punched.

One classic use is in attaching various items to poles and beams. For example, something might be attached to a utility pole with a U bolt, in which case the bolt would straddle the pole, and a crosspiece would be used to keep the bolt snug. These bolts can also be used for things like attaching cables to walls, with the threaded ends of the bolt protruding into a hidden area, while the U faces outwards, allowing users to hold cables, rods, and other materials flat against the wall.

U bolts can also be used as concrete fasteners. In this application, the bolts are pushed into the concrete with the threaded ends facing up while the concrete is still setting, and various objects can be bolted to the concrete with it. The U shape keeps the bolt in place so that it will not pull out of the concrete, adding security and stability.

It's important for people to use the right bolt for the job, to reduce expensive repairs and workarounds later. If a U bolt is going to be used in a humid or corrosive environment, it should be made from a metal that resists rust and corrosion. Likewise, it is important to find a bolt that is rated for heavy loads if it will be used to secure extremely heavy objects, and to use a bolt of the proper width when it will be straddling something as a fastener.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By malmal — On Jul 01, 2011

Ubolts seem like the perfect thing to attach a sign to its post with! It's either that or stick two individual bolts through the sign. For larger signs, I think a Ubolt would hold the sign more firmly in place, though. Has anybody ever seen a sign that uses a Ubolt to attach the face?

By aishia — On Jun 30, 2011

Is there a special name for a square U bolt? It's not perfectly shaped like a U anymore, but that's the best name I can come up with for it. Like regular U bolts, they have screw tips on both ends and a loop of metal that something you want to fasten goes through.

I use them to hold up boards in strategic places in a building project I'm working on; they're secure enough that I know they can hold my weight, so I'm not afraid to wrap ropes around the boards and climb around.

By VivAnne — On Jun 29, 2011

The use for a U bolt that comes to mind when I think of them is as a way of for-sure strapping large amounts of running cords to the walls or ceiling. That's what I use them for in my garage (which has been turned into my woodworking shop, and the power tools require a lot of cords and extension cords.)

I've always wondered what U bolts were actually originally intended for, with that distinct shape and design. I had no idea that they were this versatile -- I've just been using them to hold cords when I could have been using them to reinforce concrete! I feel the sudden need to put the ones I use to a higher purpose.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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