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Self Tapping Vs. Self Drilling Screws

 Self Tapping Vs. Self Drilling Screws

self tapping screws
Self Tapping Screws have sharp cutting threads to cut into a material and create its own threading.

What Are Self Tapping Screws?

Unless you are planning on through bolting something (the process of sliding a bolt through a hole and connecting a nut to the other side to hold it in place), almost every situation involving a bolt requires a tapped hole. A tap is a tool that can be inserted into a hole after it has been drilled and creates threading for the screw to fasten into.

Self tapping screws eliminate the need for a tap by having sharp cutting threads that can tap the threading themselves while being fastened. There are two large benefits of using self tapping screws. The first is that they save time and money by eliminating the need for a tap. The second is that the resulting threading they create is much more precise and creates a tighter stronger connection. It is common to see self tapping screws used in steel and masonry materials but they can also cut into plastic or wood.

What Are Self Drilling Screws?

self drilling screws
Self drilling screws have a point that acts as a drill bit and sharp cutting threads that tap the hole during installation.

Self drilling screws are a commonly used variety of screw for quick drilling into both metal and wood. A self drilling screw can typically be identified by its point and flute (notch) tip. This tip acts as a drill bit for the screw making it much faster to install then having to switch between a drill bit and driver bit.

The notched area in the tip acts as a reservoir to receive wood chips or metal filings. This creates the space necessary to drill/screw the screw all the way into place.

Self Drilling Screws are almost always made out of hard steel or some metal that has been treated to increase its hardness (such as 410 stainless steel). Always make sure when using self drilling screws, the material you drill into is softer than the screw material itself. Otherwise, the screws drilling tip will dull and not cut into the material. All self drilling screws are also self tapping by the nature of how they work.

Self drilling screws are a time saver eliminating both the steps of drilling (in most cases) and tapping a hole prior to installation. This also eliminates the need for drill bits and taps and switching between them for each hole.

*While these screws are able to drill their own holes, we still recommend using a standard drill bit first especially when going through very thin wood. This step will limit the amount chance of splitting/cracking significantly.



Self Drilling Vs Self Tapping: Which Is Better?

In the world of fasteners, the usual answer for which is better comes down almost entirely to the situation the fastener is being used for. From a time saving point of view, a self drilling screw is the better choice because it can eliminate the need for a drill bit making installations a one step process. However, both have their place and it comes down to knowing which to use in the situation at hand.

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Self Drilling Screws – Sheet Metal Screws with a TEK Drill Point

Self Drilling Screws

Also Known as TEK Screws, Drill Point, Self Drillers and Self Tapping

Roofing Screws
Self Drilling Roofing Screws

No Matter what you may call them, a Self Drilling Screw is a time saver! Self Drilling screws feature a distinct flute or drill point at the end of each screw, as well as self tapping threads to turn a three-step installation into one quick job. The TEK drill point, as well as the self tapping threads of the screw eliminate the need for pilot hole drilling and hole tapping before screw installation. Self Drilling Screws are used primarily when fastening into steel or other metals, and are typically used to join materials like sheet metal.

Self Drilling Screws are primarily made of harder metals, or treated to make the material harder. Typical materials include hardened Zinc Plated Steel, and 410 Stainless Steel. This is to ensure that the drill point is a harder metal than that into which the screw is being installed. 410 Stainless Steel is ideal for Self Drilling Screws because it maintains the corrosion resistant properties of standard 18-8 Stainless, but can be heat-treated up to 40 Rockwell C. This is why self drilling screws are commonly used in roofing applications in combination with a watertight neoprene sealing washer, and for attaching metal roofing and siding panels to metal stud framing.

Not All TEK Screws are Created Equal

The distinguishing drill point of a Self Driller is what makes them unique, however these points come in different lengths for different applications. The Drill Point of one of these screws is given a TEK number, which can be determined by the length of the flute. TEK points are available in TEK 2, 3 and 4-5. The typical 25 to 16 gauge metal will require the use of a TEK 3, but 14 gauge and below will require TEK 4-5. This is why TEK 5 screws are used for fastening into structural steel. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the TEK number (the longer the drill point), the thicker the metal. It is fundamental that the point is high enough on the TEK scale to pierce the metal being drilled into.

pancake head self drilling screws
TEK 3 Pancake Head Self Drillers
TEK 5 Hex Head Self Drillers


For More information on Self Drilling Screws, including seeing them in action, check out our video below

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