We’ve done our best to provide all the information you need to know to become a master at concrete drilling!
We relied on our solid drilling experience for that, plus a little bit of research to make sure we wouldn’t forget anything.
So how to drill into concrete?
Well, first of all, you need a drilling power tool. That’s the most important. So we’ll start by listing the tools that are capable of doing the job.
We’ll then continue with the complete list of equipment you need and we’ll finish up with the correct step-by-step procedure.
The Best Tools for Drilling Into Concrete
The two most appropriate tools for drilling into concrete are the hammer drill and the rotary hammer. They basically do the same thing, as they are both made for drilling into masonry or concrete. But one is essentially larger and more powerful than the other.
Hammer drills use an impact mechanism that generates rapid hammer thrusts. Combined with a regular rotary drilling motion, hammer drills are thus able to pulverize hard materials such as concrete, masonry, or stone.
In general, they are very practical for holes up until around ½ in. in size, after which their efficiency starts to decline. Their chuck size also limits the size of the bits they can accept.
When you buy or rent a hammer drill, it’s best to get a powerful, variable-speed model, with an auxiliary handle.
Rotary hammers work with a cylinder of air that is compressed by a piston, which in turn beats the drill bit. Some may say they are sort of “rotating jackhammers”.
They have superior strength and shock-absorbing qualities than hammer drills. They are also larger are thus capable of drilling wider holes.
As they are more efficient tools, rotary hammers are also more expensive than hammer drills. But smaller models might still be within the reach of some power-hungry DIYers!
Can You Drill Into Concrete Using a Regular Drill?
The problem with hard materials is that they’re hard!
A standard drill, with no hammering function, will struggle to drill even a small hole into hard or old concrete. You may manage to get something done with a softer, modern concrete interior wall, but you’ll have to be patient, push quite hard on the drill without breaking the bit, and stop very often to prevent the drill’s motor from overheating.
Nowadays many regular drills come with a hammer mode though. If that’s the case for your drill, then it will be capable of drilling into various hard materials.
What You Need
How to Drill Into Concrete – The Steps
Mark the Surface:
- First, mark the spot where you want to drill the hole using a pencil.
Tip: Before even thinking about pulling the trigger, make sure to check for hidden pipes, wiring, and ductwork that could be damaged during drilling.
Prepare the Drill:
- Next, set the depth stop on the drill 1/4 in. longer than the depth needed for the hole.
Tip: If the drill doesn’t have a stop bar, wrap some masking tape around the drill bit to mark the depth.
Wear Protective Equipment:
- Put your safety goggles on, together with your work gloves and ear protection. It is also advised to wear a dust mask when drilling into concrete to protect you from the fine dust particles created.
Drill a Guide Hole:
- Then, fit the hammer drill with the right tungsten carbide masonry bit and make sure it’s locked in.
- To make a guide hole, grip the drill in one hand, and brace the tool with your spare hand, using the drill’s handle or back of the drill. Your grip should be firm enough. This will ensure you’ll not lose control of the drill in case the concrete has air pockets or stones.
Tip: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep the drill perpendicular to the surface. By doing so, you’ll be drilling straight and you’ll avoid breaking drill bits.
- Position the bit and start the drill at its lowest speed while pushing forward with steady pressure until you reach 1/4 in. depth.
Tip: Be careful not to push too hard as too much force could break the drill bit.
Apply low pressure when drilling into light concrete or brick. This will avoid cracking it.
- Occasionally pull out the bit and blow or vacuum out the dust that will otherwise accumulate into the hole and create additional resistance.
Drill the Hole
- Now, place the drill back in the guide hole and run it at medium speed.
Tip: If you hit obstructions, stop the drill and pick up a masonry nail and hammer to overcome them. Insert the nail into the hole until the tip touches the hard spot. Then give the nail a few taps with your hammer to weaken or break up the obstruction. Don’t hit too hard or you might divert the hole!
Resume drilling at a slow speed until you’re sure to have passed the obstacle. When it’s done, you can run it at medium speed again.
- Stop when the desired depth is reached.
- Blow out or vacuum out the dust again.
Fasten Your Hardware
- To finish up the process, simply add your hanging hardware following the product guidelines.
Tip 1: Hex concrete screws work best for concrete and can be used if appearance is not a concern.
Tip 2: If you’re struggling to get the screw all the way into the hole, try to run the bit in and out a few more times. Then, blow the dust or vacuum it out and try to drive the screw again. If you still can’t drive the screw, you may have no other choice than to drill another hole a few inches away.
Tip 3: On the other hand, if the screw is too loose and spins without gripping, the material may be too soft or crumbly. In this case, you may need to use concrete expansion anchors to get the job done.
- Clean up the mess that has fallen down.
- Repeat this procedure as many times as required.