Here’s a quick guide to selecting the right screw for your next project.
Type of drive
The drive of a screw determines the tool you’ll need to turn it. The most common drives are slotted heads, which is a straight groove across the screw head and a Phillips head, which has a star-shaped slot in the screw. Other common types are internal hex drives, used on bugle batten screws and square drive, found on decking screws.
You need to pick the right screw for the material you’re working with. Wood screws have a wide thread for really gripping the timber while metal screws have a fine thread as the materials they are fixing to are generally thin. Plasterboard screws have a sharp point and bugle shaped head that sits below the surface of plasterboard without tearing it. Screws used outside should be galvanised so they won’t rust.
There are different ways the screw of a head is shaped to suit various applications and materials. Countersunk heads are triangular in shape, designed to sit flush with the surface. You’ll need to drill a divot in the material with a countersinking bit before you drive the screw. Other screw heads sit above the surface and include rounded, hexagonal (commonly for roofing screws) or button head, which is a wide flat head.
While a lot of screws are self-tapping, or able to create their own thread, drilling a pilot hole will ensure the screw will go in straight. Otherwise it could skew sideways whilst going in and end up not sitting square on the surface.
When driving a screw with a drill or impact driver, keep the pressure on the screw until it is all the way in. It can be tempting to take the pressure off as you near a surface but this will make the drive head slip from the screw, potentially stripping the head and make further driving difficult.