Are you working on a DIY or simple home improvement project, making multiple trips to the hardware store because you didn't get the right tools the first time. We are here to breakdown all of the different types of screws you might need for any of your projects.
Nobody ever thinks about screws until they need one. But, with the many different types of screws available, choosing the right one can be downright overwhelming. Do you need a wood screw or machine screw? Is a bolt the same thing as a screw?
If you are a homeowner working on a DIY or simple home improvement, you have probably experienced the frustration of making multiple trips to the hardware store because you didn’t get the right tools the first time. We are here to make your lives easier by giving you a breakdown of all the different types of screws you might need for any of your projects.
How Does a Screw Work?
You could never tell by looking at them, but the humble screw is essential in the building, hobby, and furniture-making industries. From framing walls and making cabinets to simple tasks like building a wood bench, these fasteners hold everything together. Because of this, it’s essential to pick the right screw for your project.
A screw is a general term for a group of mechanical fasteners having a threaded shaft and a screw-in configuration. A screw is a small metal piece that holds two or more components together. It is inserted into the wood, concrete, or metal and then turned until it is secure.
At the local hardware store, there are a lot of choices in the screw aisle. Read on to learn about the most common types of screws and the different types of screw heads and drives. Soon, you’ll be able to tell one kind from another, making your next trip to the hardware store much faster and with no repeat trips!
What Is a Screw Used For?
There are many different types of screws, but they all fall under several basic categories. Most screws can be categorized by size, material, and screw head type.
First, you will choose a screw because of its application and the material it will be fastening. For example, if you are working with wood, you will use a wood screw, and if you are working with brick or stone, you will use special masonry screws.
All types of screws come in various lengths, and all screws have a top, called a head, with a slot for the screwdriver. These are called the screw head. The type of screw head determines which screwdriver you have to use. The two most common types of screw heads used for home improvement projects are a Phillips head or flat head.
What Are All the Different Types of Screws?
Knowing the best screw for the job will make your life easier when it comes to home improvement. Our list of the most popular screws starts with those you are most likely to find in your toolbox.
As the name suggests, this screw is used to attach wood. Most of the time, brass, steel, or bronze make a wood screw. Wood screws come with different threads and different shapes for their heads. The most common wood screw heads are flat and round heads. A flattop is used when the screw needs to sit flush or below the surface of the wood. Round head screws will sit on top of the wood.
The top of the wood screws gets a little thinner, but the diameter is still bigger than the tip. You can get wood screws with either partially or fully covered threads at the shank. The size of the head of this screw depends on its application. Wood screws are available in interior and exterior varieties.
Drywall screws are the best way to install drywall into wall studs. Drywall screws connect drywall panels to metal studs in the wall or ceiling joists. Drywall screws have threads that go deeper than most screws, are longer, and have a higher pitch, which keeps them from coming loose from the drywall.
Drywall screws have drilling tips, so you don’t have to drill the holes first. Drywall screws are usually coarsely threaded, which gives them strong holding power, and are used for wood studs and joists. Fine drywall screws are another type that is used with metal studs.
Masonry screws are strong screws used to hold things like brick, concrete, CMU, and mortar joints in place. Masonry screws are either stainless steel or carbon steel and often have a rust coating.
There are two kinds of masonry screws: flat head screw styles for countersinking and those with a hex washer head that sits on top of the material. Before putting in a masonry screw, you need to drill a small hole with a carbide bit or hammer drill.
Decking screws are similar to wood screws with a few differences. They are better than wood screws for use outside because they are made of materials that don’t rust. Decking screws are also easier to drive into the boards than regular wood screws because their tips are sharper and have deep threads.
Decking screws can be used on both hard and softwoods. Also, decking screws have a significant advantage over nails and regular wood screws because they don’t cause the material to split, crack, or become weak when it’s attached. Composite decking manufacturers usually specify the use of stainless steel decking screws for installation.
Self-drilling screws have a sharp point at the end that is almost as good as a drill. Unlike self-tapping screws, they don’t need pilot holes because their tips work like a drill bit. A pilot hole is a small pre-drilled hole that allows the screw to start turning into wood or metal. The self-drilling screw turns and creates space for itself without needing to drill pilot holes.
This makes them a popular choice because it saves a step. Most of the time, self-drilling screws are used to quickly drill into metal and wood. These screws are often used in general construction and HVAC applications, metal roofing, cladding, and steel framing.
Headless screws with threaded fasteners at both ends are called double-ended screws. They have two pointed ends that can be put into two surfaces to make a joint that can’t be seen.
They can be machine screws or a mix of machine screws and wood screws. Double-ended screws are easy to use because they are simple to attach and remove.
Cheese Head Screws
“Cheese head” screws are known by the shape of their heads. The name “cheese head” comes from the fact that it looks like a wheel of cheese in shape and size. Cheese head screws have a deep head and a deep recess, making them suitable for a slot drive.
Most of the time, these slotted head machine fasteners come as cap screws with large, oversized heads. The height is almost equal to half the head’s diameter. They are often used in appliances, to fix electrical parts, and for work in the automotive industry.
Machine screws or hexagonal-shaped cap screws hold parts together. Most of the time, their pointed ends are used for attaching metal. In the electronics, engineering, and manufacturing industries, they are often used to hold pieces of machines.
These machine screws are made to be used with nuts to hold a tapped hole to a surface. When the screws are tightened, they stretch, and the parts are held together by tensile loads.
12 Types of Screws
There is a specific screw for almost every type of job. You will find an enormous selection of the most commonly used types of screws at the hardware store, but it is just a partial selection of the screws available. Here is a list of 12 more specialty screws that might be perfect for your project.
Framing screws work similarly to circular saw blades. They prevent the sawdust from getting into the screw hole. This allows the hole to be sealed off without damaging the material’s surface.
Pan Head Screws
Pan head screws are a type of non-countersunk screw head and are self-tapping and drilling machine screws. They are wide with a flat head. Pan-head screws with slotted heads are types of slotted screws that will work with all types of screwdrivers. Pan head screws can be used with wood, but pan head machine screws secure metal components in automotive and machinery applications.
Carriage bolts are lag bolts used to secure two thick pieces of wood together. Carriage bolts are used to build decks, porches, swing sets, and other home additions. The unique round head is tamper-proof and great for structures in public places. Because of their machine screw thread, they are used for metal as well as wood applications. They are used to make wood frames and beams, as well as make secure connections between wood and sheet metal.
A Chicago screw, which is also called a barrel nut, barrel bolt, sex bolt, or post and screw, is a type of fastener (nut). The sex bolt is smaller than other nuts, and the accompanying machine screw sits flush on both sides of the surfaces that are being joined. The sex bolt has a built-in feature, like a slot, that makes it easier to tighten the fastener.
Eye Bolt Screws
Stainless steel eye bolts have a loop in the shape of an eye at one end and a threaded end that fits around the shank of a screw. With eye bolt screws, a secure eye can be attached to a structure or system, making it easy to tie ropes or cables. Most of the time, eyebolt screws are used as a point of connection for anchoring, pulling, pushing, or lifting.
Hanger bolts are a type of headless screw. They are usually used with wood to add an external thread or create an internal fastening joint. The hanger bolt thread and a lag screw grip the wood on one side. The other side of the bolt has machine screw threads used with a nut. These are used for storm shutters, furniture making, and flooring.
Hexagonal head screws are hexagonal bolts with a hex head with holes and a washer on the bearing surface. With these kinds of screws, wood or metal can be attached to wood. Hex screws have short steel threads that make them great for projects inside the house.
The hex head slotted screw can be used with a screwdriver, or a tap-in screw is available. The flat washer under the screw head and the precise application of these screws make them a good choice for buildings, docks, bridges, and parts of roads.
Hammer Drive Screws
Hammer drive screws are a type of self-tapping screws. Most of the time, hammer drive screws are made with round heads that don’t have any slots for a screwdriver. These screws work like nails because you drive them into holes with a hammer or mallet. Nameplates or wall signs can be attached with hammer-drive screws, and drain holes can be sealed with them.
Lag bolts are used to fasten wood together and are frequently used in construction. They come in a hex head or square head. A lag bolt is used when there is a lot of weight because its length and thick threads stand up to heavy loads. They are much heavier than wood screws or sheet metal screws.
Oval Head Screws
Oval undercut head screws have undercut or trim heads and shorter screw lengths, which usually give the threads a better grip. Oval countersunk screw heads have rounded tops and are mainly used to cover switches because they make a finished product more attractive. There are two types of oval head screws; rounded oval head screws and oval Phillips oval head screws.
Different names are used for self-tapping screws. People often call them metal screws, sheet metal screws, tapping screws, or tapper screws.
Their tips can be pointed (like a pencil), blunt, or flat, and they are either thread-forming, thread-cutting, or thread-rolling. The most crucial difference between self-tapping and self-drilling screws is that self-tapping screws can’t go through metal without a pilot hole. These screws must first be pre-drilled or punched holes. Once you have drilled pilot holes in your project, the self-tapping screw will dig into the wood and keep it secure.
Sheet Metal Screws
Sheet metal screws can hold two pieces of sheet metal together, fasten metal objects to one another, and tighten them up. They can also attach metal to other materials, like plastic or wood. There are different sheet metal screw heads, such as flat, hex, and round.
Sheet metal screws are fully threaded along the shank with a weatherproof coating. Typically, sheet metal screws are made from steel with sharp points that make it easy to drive through metal.
These screws are most commonly used in the welding industry. In a pinch, a screw designed for sheet metal can be used for wood, but they are primarily designed for metal, and there are wood screws that will do a better job when working with wood or non-metal items.
Even More Types of Screws
If you haven’t found the perfect screw for your project yet, check the rest of our list below. Having the right screw makes machines and structures safer.
A set screw head is a type of screw used to hold something inside or against something, like attaching a pulley or gear to a shaft. The set screw goes through a threaded hole in the outer object and is tightened against the inner piece to keep it from moving. Flat set screws align against ground Knurled cup screws with a lock action that stops the screw from becoming loose during high vibration applications.
Socket Head Cap Screws
Socket head cap screws are other types of screws with a hexagonal socket and a barrel-shaped head. Because their heads are round and can be tightened from the inside, they can be used in places where external fasteners won’t work.
When you need a fastener that goes under the material’s surface, socket countersunk screws are ideal. They can be used to make joints anywhere and are very strong and reliable. They also don’t rust. Aside from these, they have a nice look and are made well.
Stainless Steel Screws
Stainless steel screws are similar to standard steel screws but are rust-resistant and can be used outdoors. They are durable and strong, and because they resist corrosion, they eliminate the need for maintenance. The stainless steel head height is the same as the shank diameter.
Square Head Bolts
Square head bolts are the same as hex cap screws, but their heads are square instead of hexagonal. They are also called bolts and screws; you need a wrench to use them.
The size of the head of a square head bolt is based on the application. This screw is used to tighten the nut and the other joining pieces. Now, hex bolts are commonly used in place of square head screws.
Tamper-proof screws are hard or impossible to remove once they are in place. These can control or stop damage in public buildings or areas.
These types of screws can be told apart by how they are driven, making them harder to mess with or take apart. Often, tamper-proof screws are used in prisons or to fix things like license plates, gutters, and grill bars.
Thread Cutting Screws
Thread cutting screws have sharp edges that are ideal for stiff materials. They are often used with metal and wood and reduce internal stress build-up, making them great for rigid materials. Unlike a thread-forming screw, it does not have a cutting edge.
Thread Forming Screws
In contrast to a thread-cutting screw, a thread-forming screw has edges that do not do any cutting. These types of screws are challenging to use in materials with low compression strength. They form a tight bond with the material they are screwed into.
Weld screws are welded to an aluminum or metal surface with a shaft so that a nut and washer can hold the item in place. The tabs of weld screws extend past the head, letting it be welded without any holes. The automotive, industrial, marine, construction, and aerospace industries use them frequently.