Drilling holes into concrete blocks, whether to install heavy shelves or attach footers to exterior structures, can be a pain. Concrete is a hard surface made from gravel, stones, and cement. Drilling on it is more difficult than through wood or brick walls.
But, the procedure can be easier with the right technique and equipment. The key to properly drilling concrete is making a small guide hole, using the appropriate drill machine, masonry bits, controlled burst of drilling effort, and patience. Get the information below in the back of your mind, and you can do the drilling job in no time.
- Safety goggles
- Work Gloves
- Dust Mask
- Ear protection
- Measuring tape
- Drill machine (Rotary hammer or hammer drill)
- Masking Tape
- Masonry nail
- Masonry Drill Bit/ SDS Drill Bit
- Shop Vacuum
- Carpenter’s pencil or marker
- Canned air (optional)
- WD 40 (optional)
- Before proceeding with the task, we advise reading the drill’s manufacturer’s instructions. Understanding how to operate the device is always a plus.
- You can get a stud tester with an electrical wire finder from our local hardware store. This testing procedure will help ensure you don’t drill into any wires.
- We do not recommend doing a DIY drilling project if there is even an ounce of doubt regarding electrical wires, ductwork, or water pipes. Accidents will occur. There are trained professionals for these kinds of jobs.
- Take proper safety precautions like masks, gloves, and goggles. You generally think it’s just some dust, but this concrete dust can be dangerous to the respiratory system. Be extra careful for big projects. Better to be safe than sorry.
Which Drill To Use On Concrete
Using either a hammer drill or a Rotary hammer drill is recommended for making concrete holes. Choosing among them will depend on what size of holes you want, the volume of work, and experience with power tools.
|Comparison Aspect||Hammer Drill||Rotary Hammer Drill|
|How does it work?||Rotational drilling with back and forth pounding (caused by two discs in the mechanism)||Rotational drilling with back and forth pounding ( caused by air pressure)|
Consider this an upgraded version of hammer drills
|Work Load||For light work (a couple of holes in the concrete or small project)||For both light & heavy work (big projects)|
|Chuck System||Usually has a three-jaw chuck system ( you need a key to change bits from the chuck)||Usually has a Slot drive system (keyless change of bits)|
|Price range||Averages around $50 to $200||Above $200|
|Hole Sizes||3/16″ to 7/8′ inch holes in diameter||1/4″ to 3-inch holes in diameter|
If you are planning on light work around the house, and need a couple of holes done, then a hammer drill is your option. Consider the rotary hammer drill for big projects or if you plan concrete or metal drill for the house.
Always buy or rent branded drills as there are cheap copies everywhere. Bosch, DeWalt, Hilti, Makita, Black/Decker, and Milwaukee are some big brands. These brands also offer drill bits.
Buy drill bits compatible with your chuck system. You will either have a three-jaw chuck system or SDS Chuck. The bits are made accordingly.
Always ask for carbide masonry drill bits for hammer drills when buying drill bits, as they are specifically made for masonry work. For rotary hammer drills, you will find specifications like SDS, SDS plus SDS max, which refers to different sizes and diameter drill bits for rotary hammer drills.
How to Drill Into Concrete
Follow the step-by-step procedures below to drill effectively into concrete.
Mark The Drilling Spot
The first step is to mark the spot where you want to drill. Mark the area with a marker or pencil. Before moving forward, you should assess what depth of the hole you want to create.
Most drills have a stop bar to set the exact depth. If such a feature isn’t present in our drill, use masking tape and tape the area where you need the drill to stop.
Square Off With The Target
Getting drills off-target is easy. The best thing you can do is properly square off the marked spot. You want controlled bursts of drill effort.
Use both hands on the drill. There are auxiliary handles on the drill for stability. If our drill doesn’t have a grip handle, hold the drill from the back or the front body. Our goal is to be perfectly perpendicular while drilling.
If you are bent and do not get perpendicular, there is a high chance the drill will get away from us, and the hole may be offset or enlarged unnecessarily. Expect recoils, vibration, and noise, especially while using the hammer modes.
Make a Guide Hole
Never drill the hole in one effort. First, you need to make a guide hole. Try to keep the guiding holes around ⅛ to ¼ inch in size.
Remember, aim for slow progressions. Start drilling the marked spot at lower speed modes. You need to ensure a controlled burst of drill effort; once you are done with the guide hole, it’s time for the main drilling portion.
Time to Drill
It’s time to do the actual drilling portion. Start with a low speed with steady pressure. Do not lean into it; let the machine do the work. Pull the drill out periodically every ten or fifteen seconds. This action will help pull the dust from the hole.
Once confident, increase the speed to medium speed settings. Control is very important because there can be an instance where there are pebbles, air pockets, or chunks of stones. Resistance can be very much unpredictable, which will cause to lose control.
If there is an obstruction, stop the drill immediately. Use your masonry nail and hammer and give it soft taps. This process will break the block. You can resume drilling with low speed during these rough patches.
Note that if you hit metal or see sparks, you most likely hit the rebar. You can get specific rebar cutting drill bits from our local hardware store.
Do not attempt drilling into rebars with normal bits; they will snap off due to the heat. Many brands like Diablo, 3 Keego, Bosch, and Hilti provide these specific rebar cutting drill bits.
Sprinkle some water or WD 40 in the hole at intervals. This process will help to control and collect the dust. Water or WD 40 keeps the drill bit from overheating and lubricating the hole. It will also help prevent the bits from shattering, and the bit will spin more easily.
You can use a brush to get dust from the hole. Use the canned air to get the dust out of the holes. Use a shop vacuum for the job.
The opening will be bigger than holes, so if you use one, you can get some fingers on the suction hose to let suction in through a single part to suck up dust. You can also tape paper plates to the concrete wall to collect dust.
Put your anchor in after the dust has settled.
Can You Use Regular Drills for Concrete?
Normal drills are for very light work. They aren’t suited for hard surfaces like concrete. You can try drilling into concrete, and you may even get a few holes in, but it can risk damaging the bits or overheating the motor on the drill machine.
Though they look large, Drills like rotary hammers are made to reduce the user’s effort and ease pressure while drilling. Do not get that option with regular drills. The amount of physical effort needed will be high.