Choosing the right screw for the job: our easy-to-follow guide
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Choosing the right screw for the job: our easy-to-follow guide

We’re often asked about the right screws to use when fastening to certain materials. With so many options out there to choose from, knowing which one is right for the job can be a bit of a conundrum. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you find the best screw for the material you’re working with.

  1. Best screws for wood

This depends on whether the wood is used indoors or outdoors. Brass and stainless steel woodscrews are rustproof, making them ideal for outdoor use. Their non-corrosive properties also make them suitable for hardwoods like oak and chestnut, which contain acidic tannins.

Japanned screws have a black lacquered coating that also protects from weather, and can be used outdoors with wrought iron, or for when you want a dark screw head.

MDF and chipboard screws are for use with MDF and chipboard, funnily enough. They are designed to deliver maximum grip in fibrous wood materials, but extra retention can be gained by drilling a pilot hole before driving the screw in. MDF and chipboard are not for outdoor use.

For fastening outside decking, use specialised decking screws. These are covered in a waterproof coating to protect them from the weather.

  1. Best screws for plasterboard

Drywall screws are specially made to be used in plasterboard. These have a trumpet-shaped ‘bugle’ head that goes into the board without causing excess damage to the exterior.

  1. Best screws for metal

Use a self-tapping screw. These create their own thread as they are being driven, but need a pilot hole to give them a headstart. Drill one slightly narrower than the gauge of the screw. If used outdoors, go for stainless steel or zinc-plated self-tappers to prevent rusting.

  1. Best screws for plastic

When screwing into plastic or fiberglass, first drill a pilot hole. Although you can use self-tapping screws, screwing straight into the plastic without pre-drilling will tear a rough hole, which could lead to further damage.

Other screws available:

Mirror screw

A two-part screw used for mirrors or bath panels. Once the screw is in, a rounded chrome cap is screwed over the head for a neat, decorative appearance.

Coach screw

Used for fixing large, heavy pieces of structural wood, these require a pre-drilled hole the length of three-quarters of the screw. Coach screws have a hexagonal-shaped head that is turned using a spanner.

So, what materials can you screw directly into, and which need to be drilled first? Here’s a rundown of the most common ones.

  1. Screwing into brick

When fastening to brick, you need to consider the weight of the object you’re attaching. For light and medium weight attachments such as hanging basket brackets, a stainless steel screw driven into a plastic wall plug will do the job. For heavier objects, it’s advisable to insert a more heavy-duty anchor into the brick to create a stable fastening.

Start by drilling a pilot hole using a hammer drill and a masonry bit. Clear out any debris using a vacuum cleaner nozzle. Now add the wall plug or anchor. Wall plugs are made of flexible plastic and can be squeezed into the hole with just your fingers, but metal anchors usually require a hammer to install. Once the anchor is in, all that’s left is to add the screw.

  1. Screwing into mortar

Although mortar is less dense than brick, you still need to drill a pilot hole and add a wall plug or anchor before you can screw into it.

  1. Screwing into concrete

Once you’ve drilled a pilot hole using a hammer drill and masonry bit, add a wall plug or anchor, depending on the weight of the object you’re attaching. Alternatively, use a masonry screw to screw straight into the pilot hole. These sturdy self-tapping screws are resistant to corrosion and have a fierce thread to help them bore into stonework.

  1. Screwing into plasterboard

No pre-drilling necessary, but use a drywall screw.

We’re confident that no matter what the job, we can help you find the right screw to get it done. Our experts are on hand at our Redhill store to help with any questions, so just drop by or get in touch.

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