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How To Drill Into Concrete

Drilling concrete? That’s no problem with these tips.

Concrete is cool now. Gone are the days when it was seen as a heavy industrial material for laying driveways and constructing buildings. Concrete is tactile, attractive, and designer.

Many high-end apartments rely on the minimalist look of concrete to give them that wow factor.

But concrete is also incredibly tough. Want to know how to drill into concrete? We’ll share some pointers.

How to Drill Into Concrete

Drilling into concrete requires the right drill. Choose a hammer drill with a tungsten carbide bit. Mark the spot where you want to drill, then drill a shallow pilot hole. Use the drill in short bursts for slower speeds and greater control.

Can You Use a Regular Drill to Drill Into Concrete?

There are different types of concrete, with varying levels of hardness. With concrete, screwing into it requires a drill. Choose your drill wisely.

For decorative concrete like internal walls, which are often softer, you can get away with using a rotary hand drill and a masonry drill bit. The trick is to take it slow and make sure you don’t burn out the motor, or damage the drill bit.

Can I Drill Into Concrete Without a Hammer Drill?

If you’re serious about drilling through concrete, you’ll need a hammer drill. Older concrete is denser and robust. It wasn’t intended for use in designer interiors to look good.

Hammer drills use a rapid hammer action to drive the drill bit through the material.

Top Tip

When looking for a suitable hammer drill, get one with adjustable speed settings and a stop function. You’ll also want a secondary handle to steady your grip and give you greater control. Think machine gun-style and you’ll know what we mean.

What You Need

  • Pencil.
  • Ruler.
  • Hammer drill.
  • Masking tape.
  • Goggles.
  • Tungsten carbide masonry drill bit.
  • Masonry nail (3 inches plus).
  • Hammer.
  • Canned compressed air.
  • Vacuum.

How To Drill Into Concrete

1. Mark the Surface

Grab the pencil and mark the location of where you want the hole. Consider how deep you want the hole and use a stop bar to set the desired depth. If you don’t have a stop bar, wrap some masking tape around the drill bit to indicate the depth.

2. Prepare the Drill

Put your goggles on. Then, insert the appropriate-sized tungsten carbide masonry drill bit into the hammer drill. Make sure it’s locked tight so it doesn’t slip while drilling.

3. Get in Position

Plant your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the drill. If you have an auxiliary handle, use your spare hand to give greater control. If you don’t have a handle, grip the hammer drill like a handgun.

When you lean in to make the hole, the tungsten carbide drill bit should be perpendicular to the concrete. And expect some kickback from the hammer action.

4. Drill a Guide Hole

With the drill on a slow setting, make a guide hole. If your hammer drill only has one speed, operate it in short bursts until your guide hole is roughly ¼-inch deep.

5. Drill Desired Hole

Keep a firm but light grip. It enables you to react to any pockets of stones or hard material within the concrete. Losing control of your drill is easy when drilling through concrete.

Because you’ve made the guide hole, your drill will be easier to control. As you gain confidence, increase the speed of the hammer drill until the hole is complete.

6. Overcoming Obstructions

When you hit an obstruction, you will be tempted to force the drill through it. Don’t! This can damage your bit and the drill, and send you off course as the drill changes direction.

Remove the drill and insert the masonry nail so it touches the hard spot. Then, with the hammer, give the nail a few sharp taps. Never whack it, because you risk losing control of the nail and diverting the hole.

Remove the nail and start drilling again, at a slow speed, until you pass the blockage.

7. Clear the Debris as You Go

Every 15 or 20 seconds, withdraw the drill bit to remove the debris from the hole. It frees the drill bit to work on the hard concrete without the added effort of grinding through the concrete dust.

8. Attach Anchors

Once your hole is at the desired depth as indicated by the stop bar or masking tape on the drill bit, remove the drill. Then, grab the can of compressed air to blast the dust from the hole. Remember, you should still be wearing your safety goggles to protect your eyes.

Have the vacuum cleaner handy to suck up any mess that falls. Then insert your anchors into the hole, tapping them flush with a hammer.

9. Repeat

Repeat this procedure for making other holes as required.

How Soon to Drill Into New Concrete

New concrete needs a minimum of three days to set before you consider drilling through it. Concrete takes between five and seven days to set to 60 percent of its overall strength. For this reason, if you are attaching anchors, it is best to leave it for seven days.

Some expanding anchors exert a lot of pressure on the material.

Now We’ve Drilled Down

Drilling into concrete is all about methodical working. Get the right tools, plan what and where you want to drill the hole, and take it in easy steps. If you meet challenges along the way, take stock, use the correct tools, and carry on.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.