Concrete sure looks cool — whether it’s the material used for your countertops or your walls. It fits in well with the modern-industrial look that’s all the rage these days.
There’s just one problem with concrete. It’s not precisely drywall, wood or plaster, so it’s a bit harder to drill into.
In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you try to drill into concrete incorrectly, you could end up with a busted drill, or worse, a busted counter or wall.
If you’re looking to learn how to drill into concrete, here’s everything you need to know to get the job done without damage.
Tips for Drilling in Concrete
Before you break out a drill and drill bit (or break a drill and drill bit), check out these tips for drilling in concrete.
- Choose the right drill bits. You’re going to want to invest in particular masonry bits.
- Choose your tool. We’ll cover how to drill into concrete using your standard, run-of-the-mill drill, but for best results, you’re going to want a hammer drill.
- Use the right amount of pressure. If it’s difficult to drill into concrete, that doesn’t mean that more pressure will help. Putting too much force into drilling can damage the motor of your drill.
- Water is your friend. Wetting the concrete as you drill or before drilling can cut down on dust and prevent overheating.
- Keep things clean. Speaking of dust, you might need to remove some as you drill. One way to do that is to move the drill bit up and down in the hole from time to time.
- Be prepared for jams. If you’re drilling into a concrete foundation or wall, you might hit something that’s not concrete, such as rebar or aggregate rock. If that happens, remove the drill and bit and use a hammer and nail to break apart the thing blocking your way. Alternatively, you might need to drill in another spot.
- Protect yourself. Wear safety goggles and a dust mask to keep debris out of your eyes, nose, and mouth when drilling holes in concrete.
Is There a Best Way to Drill Into Concrete?
In a word, yes, there is a best way to drill into concrete. Learning how to drill through concrete means learning how to use the best tools for the job.
The preferred tool for drilling into concrete is a hammer drill. How is a hammer drill different from your basic, run-of-the-mill regular drill?
Well, for one thing, it hammers. A regular drill breaks through a material by spinning.
A hammer drill also spins. As it rotates, the drill bit moves up and down rapidly, like a hammer.
The combination of spinning and up/down movement increase the force of the drill, making it easier for it to break into hardened concrete.
It’s not only the drill you use that makes a difference when making a hole in concrete. The drill bits can also make or break your project.
Whatever you do, don’t use regular drill bits for concrete. While you might be able to get away drilling into a concrete wall with a regular drill, you can’t get away with using a standard drill bit.
Sorry, it’s not going to happen.
What you need instead is a masonry bit.
A masonry bit differs from a standard drill bit in a few ways. For one thing, it’s wider at the tip than a standard bit.
The extra width means that the opening you create with the bit is wide enough to make a proper hole in the concrete. Once the tip makes the opening, the rest of the shaft of the drill bit can slide right in.
Another critical difference between a masonry bit and a typical drill bit is the material. Many masonry bits are made from carbide.
Carbide is a particularly tough material, which can cut into concrete with little problem. If you’re using a hammer drill, carbide tipped masonry bits are the way to go.
How to Drill Into Concrete Wall With a Regular Drill
We see you. You’re holding a regular drill in your hand and wondering if you can get away with using it to drill into concrete.
A regular drill isn’t the best tool for the job. But it’s not necessarily impossible to use one when you need to drill into concrete.
The one thing you can’t get away with is using a standard drill bit, so go out and purchase a masonry bit that’s the right width and length for the type of hole you’re making. You’ll most likely want to buy a few different diameters of drill bits, as it’s easiest to start small and increase the width as you go.
Here’s how to drill into concrete with a regular old drill:
- Put a small masonry bit into your drill.
- Mark the spot on the wall or another surface where you’d like to place the hole.
- Start drilling. Put gentle, steady pressure on the drill, but don’t force it. If the drill resists you, back off.
- Check for blockages. If you get push-back or resistance at any time, stop drilling. Pull the drill bit out and check to make sure there’s nothing in the way.
- Remove the blockage. If something is in the way, you have two options. Option 1 is to break it up, using a nail and hammer. Option 2 is to drill elsewhere.
- Change up the drill bit. Once you’ve drilled down as deep as you need to go, change to a slightly larger drill bit. Increase the drill bit by 1/8 inch each time. Drill the hole again until it’s the right thickness.
How to Drill a Hole in Concrete With a Hammer Drill
If you’re completely new to drilling or you’re looking to add to your tool collection, we highly recommend investing in a hammer drill.
With a hammer drill, you can easily make holes in concrete. If you have to drill into another material, you can also easily turn off the hammer motion and use the hammer drill as a regular drill.
So even though it seems like a specialized tool, it’s a lot more versatile than a basic drill.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how to drill into concrete with a hammer drill.
- Mark the spot where you’re going to make the hole in the wall or another surface. Some hammer drills have a stop bar, according to Bob Vila, that make it easy to know when you’ve gone far enough. Set the stop bar (if you have one) or wrap a piece of masking tape around the drill bit at the desired depth of your hole.
- Get into position. Put the right size carbide-tipped masonry drill bit into your hammer drill. Stand in front of the wall or surface with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
- Grip the drill. Use both hands on the drill, one near the power button or trigger and the other on the support handle (if there is one). If there’s no support handle, use your other hand to hold the back of the drill.
- Prepare for recoil. The up/down motion of the drill combined with the spinning of the drill bit might create some recoil, which can mess up the hole if you move the drill out of position. Go slowly at first, until you’re used to how the drill moves.
- Make a shallow guide hole. Turn the drill onto the slowest speed and make a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch deep guide hole.
- Keep going. Once you’ve made your guide hole, you might feel more confident and want to up your speed. Continue to drill slowly and don’t put a lot of force or pressure on the drill.
- Remove any blockages. If you come across something that you can’t drill through, like rebar, you’ll need to remove it using a hammer and nail or drill elsewhere.
- Clean the drill and bit as you go. Pull the drill bit out of the hole from time to time to knock away any dust build-up.
- Use a can of compressed air (like what you’d use to clean a keyboard) to remove any dust from the hole once you’ve finished drilling. Vacuum up any dust that’s fallen to the ground or floor once you’re done.
Final Thoughts on How to Drill Into Concrete
Having the right tools does make drilling through concrete a lot easier. It won’t be like drilling into butter, but using a hammer drill and masonry bit is going to save you a lot of frustration.
Now that you know how to drill into concrete, you can easily hang a gallery wall on a concrete wall or securely attach a concrete countertop to another surface. Drilling into concrete isn’t necessarily easy, but figuring out how to do it can pay off in the long run.