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How To Screw Into Concrete With a Hammer Drill?

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Do you have a home with concrete walls? If you do, you would want to learn how to screw into those concrete surfaces. Screwing into concrete requires special equipment and proper technique.

Do you wish to hang a picture frame or hang (or fasten) any other object(s) with a screw (or screws) on a concrete wall? If yes, you need to start with a hammer drill to drill proper holes first.

Holes made with a hammer drill turn out to be more precise, allowing screws to always hold the intended weight. But, how do you use the hammer drill to screw into concrete? Well, it isn’t’ exactly rocket science! At least, not until a few simple steps are mastered.

7 Simple Steps to Screw into Concrete with a Hammer Drill

Here are the steps, tips, and some tricks you must know to drill concrete surfaces with precision using a hammer drill:

Step 1 – Prepare for the task & mark the ‘X’

First things first, and by that, we mean user safety is paramount. You need to put on your safety gear before carrying on with the task of drilling into concrete.

Most important are the safety goggles and a dust mask. The goggles will safeguard you from the tiny concrete particles that will more likely than not fly towards your eyes and face.

Wearing a dust mask helps the operator to breathe while working. Hard hats, gloves, and face shields are other recommended protective gear, especially if you’re doing heavy-duty drilling.

In the preparation stage, you also need to ensure you select the right screw (screw length) to support the weight of the object to be hung. Finally, using masking tape, mark the spot on the concrete surface (wall or ceiling) with an ‘X’ symbol, where you will place the screw.

Now, over the center of the masking tape ‘X’, using a pencil, mark the exact position you wish to drill. Drilling through masking tape minimizes the dust and debris that fall out when starting to drill.

Step 2 – Check The Target Area (The ‘X’) for Wires, Pipes, or Cables

Before drilling through the chosen spot, check that there are no wires, pipes, or cables inside the wall behind the spot. There are good wire detectors and testers available in the marketplace that will help you check if the spot you’re about to drill is safe to make a hole in.

As a general rule, stay away from drilling walls shared with the bathroom and kitchen, or areas perpendicular to electrical sockets or water taps.

Step 3 – Choose the Right Drill Bit

To drill the perfect hole, you need the right type and size of the drill bit. A carbide masonry tipped drill bit is best suited to drill through concrete.

The head of a masonry drill bit has a reinforcement that provides grip and punches similar to that of a shovel. This reinforcement is made of a material of high hardness for optimal durability.

To adhere to the depth requirements of your task, you can mark the drill bit with masking tape at the desired level of depth. Since the anchor is placed in the hole to support the screw,  make sure the drill bit is the same width as the anchor.

Also, make sure the drill bit is well centered and firmly in the chuck.

Step 4 – Use the Hammer Drill

When it comes to concrete drilling, there is no better option than a hammer drill. Hammer drills are ideal machines for drilling through the toughest materials.

A hammer drill, due to its strong motor, won’t heat up and give in partway while drilling through concrete. In case you want to drill in very hard concrete, you’re better off using a rotary hammer drill and special drill bits.

First, you need to make a pilot hole on the pencil mark that you have made on the masking tape ‘X’. The pilot hole is like a guide hole, it will produce a slight grimace in the wall to prevent the drill from slipping when you start drilling the hole.

Then, drill the hole while you’re holding the drill exactly perpendicular to the wall. This way, the hole goes in straight so that the screw sits in properly. Drilling a straight hole is the key since an angled hole will affect the weight the screw can safely hold.

To further get things right, make sure to drill in the wall (or ceiling, or the slab) to the depth marked on the carbide masonry drill bit by the masking tape.

Before inserting the anchor, prepare the hole by emptying the dust and debris stuck in it. To empty the hole, use compressed air or canned air to blow out the particles.

Once the hole is clear of dust and debris the anchor can be inserted inside it.

Note: The hole should be deep enough

As a handy rule, ensure that the hole for concrete screws is at least 1/4 in. deeper than how much the screw will penetrate. This way, there will be that little extra space for dust accumulation from the drilling.

Although efforts are made to blow out the dust, some dust remains inside still. That’s why most hammer drills come equipped with an adjustable depth stop (depth control bar). To help you know how deep you’re drilling.

Step 5 – Insert the Anchor Into the Hole

Once the hole is ready, it’s time to remove the masking tape from the concrete and position the anchor over the hole. Next, push the anchor tip inside as far as possible until it’s completely in the concrete.

You will need the help of a hammer to lightly tap it in all the way.

Step 6 – Screw Into the Wall

The final step is to start to screw into the anchored concrete. Insert the screw (meant for concrete) with a compatible screwdriver tip until the desired depth, while the anchor expands and grips the screw firmly into place.

At this point, it is important not to over tighten the screw to prevent cracks from forming in the concrete wall.

Step 7 – Tips and Tricks

When drilling and screwing into a concrete wall or slab, consider the following expert tips and tricks:

  • For extended runtimes and heavy-duty concrete drilling, buy or rent a rotary hammer drill with a brushless motor and an ergonomic design.
  • A good hammer drill (whether corded or cordless) should possess the following features:
    • Power
    • Variable speed
    • Impact function
    • Depth adjustment
    • Comfortable grip
  • For nighttime work, ensure you use a hammer drill with a built-in LED light.
  • Avoid applying too much force so that the drill bit doesn’t break off.
  • Use the hammering function of the drill for more effortless drilling.
  • Wear thick gloves while drilling, the bit can get quite hot.
  • Always wear the safety gear during the job (goggles and dust mask in particular).
  • Use the depth control bar to keep a check on the distance you want to drill or not exceed.
  • In case the drill bit gets stuck in the concrete wall or slab, change the rotation direction of the drill to resolve the issue.
  • If possible, use the help of another person to hold a vacuum next to the drilling point to keep the dust at bay.

The Verdict

As you can now sense, concrete is not an impenetrable surface. With the right tools and technique, you can drill into the hardest concrete surfaces. Modern architecture has more and more structural elements made of concrete. Thus, it has become imperative we know how to fix screws into the concrete.

The best available tool for screwing into concrete is the hammer drill. There are different hammer drills on the market, so too are different types of screws and anchors to get the job done right.

Yet, once you know the universal steps we’ve laid out in this article, you would be comfortable screwing into the concrete using any hammer drill you opt for.

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