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What Screws to Use for Brick?

A collage of screws for bricks.

If you’ve never done a DIY project on brick walls, you might think that you can just use whatever screws you have lying around the garage. While it would be nice to use up leftover screws from your last home improvement project, it could have devastating consequences for your brick wall.

Using the wrong screws in brick can cause damage and create more work for you in the long run. It could also render the incompatible screws unusable for future projects.

To avoid a lose-lose situation with your home improvement project on a brick wall or other brick surface, follow the following advice and steps as we answer the question “what kind of screws should you use in bricks?” and more.

Related: Do Brick Wall Hooks Actually Work? 

What Kind of Screws Should You Use in Bricks?

Self-tapping screw with plastic plugs.

If you’re unsure about what type of screws to use for a project, it’s best to do some research before digging into your project or making a trip to the hardware store.

Most DIY enthusiasts and home improvement professionals recommend using concrete screws that are specifically designed with the unique properties of brick and similar materials in mind, like screws in bricks. 

As concretefasteners.com points out, “Self-tapping brick anchors, concrete block or concrete screws are used for fastening items to brick. Concrete screws are most commonly called Tapcon® masonry screws.

The heavy-duty masonry screw has the versatility for use in brick, mortar joints, CMU, block or solid concrete.” If you happen to have self-tapping brick anchors, concrete block or concrete screws in your garage or toolbox, you can feel free to use those.

If not, it may be time to make a trip to the hardware store and make sure that the screws you choose fit into one of those categories. When in doubt, you can also double-check with an experienced handyman before heading to the checkout. 

How Do You Insert Self-Tapping Screws?

(350pcs)#8X3/4"Phillips Pan Head Self Drilling Screws, Self Tapping Sheet Metal Screws - 410 Stainless Steel

With a name like “self-tapping screws,” it might sound like you just take the screws out of their packaging, place them near the wall, and then watch them magically drive themselves into it.

While that would be a lovely feature (if anyone invents screws like that, please let us know because we want some, too!), the word “self-tapping” is a little misleading. Self-tapping screws work by forming threads and cutting threads.

This means that as self-tapping screws are driven into the material, they spiral and cut into the material.

Although this can be problematic because it can damage the materials if they are tightened too much, this is helpful because it means that you don’t need to drill a pilot hole in most cases. Still, of course, if you feel more comfortable drilling a pilot hole first, it won’t hurt anything. 

Since brick can be a surprisingly fragile material that breaks and chips easily if it is old or crumbling, you will probably want to mess with it as little as possible in the drilling process. This means that drilling a pilot hole can complicate the process and cause the brick around the hole to get damaged.

Inserting a self-tapping screw is a fairly simple process. As outlined in an article by howstuffworks.com, “You can insert self-tapping screws with either a hand-held or electric screwdriver.

Before you use self-tapping screws, it’s helpful, although not mandatory, to drill a pilot hole through the material. This ensures the screw will go in easily and will be positioned correctly. Make sure to use a smaller drill bit than the self-tapping screw itself when drilling the pilot hole.

Otherwise, if the hole is too large, the screw threads won’t have anything to attach to. Then position the screw straight and screw it in place with a flat head or Phillips screwdriver (depending on the screw head).

If the screw goes in crooked, it could cause the head to strip. Next, tighten the screw until it no longer turns easily. Be careful not to over-tighten the screw because it could cause the threads to strip.”

Can You Screw Directly Into Brick?

(450pcs)#8X5/8"Phillips Pan Head Self Drilling Screws, Self Tapping Sheet Metal Screws - 410 Stainless Steel

Unfortunately, screwing directly into brick is not usually recommended. This means that you may want to allow for extra time in the project to prepare the brick for adding the screws. There are several different preparations you could do to ensure that the brick is ready for screws.

According to homebuilding.co.uk, “If you’re a DIYer novice, you need to know you can’t screw directly into brick. You need to drill a hole, insert a rawl plug – a type of fixing which will hold your screw in place – and then screw into this.

This process is much easier in a brick wall than plasterboard, which may require more specialist fixings.” 

If you are extremely short on time, you may want to save the project for another day to ensure that you can devote the proper level of care and attention to keeping the brick in your wall from crumbling or otherwise getting damaged.

Thankfully, the preparation for screwing into brick doesn’t have to take a long time, though. If you have an electric drill, it should only take a few seconds to drill your initial hole. Inserting a rawl plug also doesn’t take very long. 

Once you have done this preparation work, you can go ahead and screw in a screw that is suitable for concrete, masonry, brick, or similar materials. Then you are good to go for hanging up your favorite new artwork or installing whatever decor or other items you would like on your wall.

What Type of Drill Do You Need for Bricks?

DEWALT 20V MAX* XR Compact Hammer Drill Kit, 1/2-Inch, 2.0-Amp Hour (DCD796D2)

If you’re drilling holes, you may think you can use any drill on the market (or in your garage) to get the job done. While some drills can work on most types of material, your best bet for drilling holes into brick is a specific type of drill called a “hammer drill.”

A hammer drill is designed to mimic hammers by using a hammering motion while also incorporating a rotary drilling motion. The combination of these two motions helps the hammer drill to drill through hard, brittle materials. 

If you don’t use a hammer drill, you might damage the wall. Even worse, you could harm your tool and make it so that you can’t use it for the next project on your DIY list. If you value your time, tools, and surfaces, you should invest in the right tools.

After all, if you use an inappropriate type of drill on brick, you will need to take a trip to the hardware store soon after anyway for a replacement drill. You might as well get it right the first time to avoid buying two drills on your next stop at the hardware shop. 

Do Masonry Screws Need Plugs?

M6x25mm White Plastic Expansion Pipe Column Anchor Wall Plug Frame Fixings Expansion Tube Screw Expanding Plastic Screw Anchors Wall Connector Expansion Pipe

Unfortunately, a regular screw will not stay up in masonry, plasterboard, or similar materials unless you use a wall plug to keep it secure. The whole purpose of a wall plug is that they fill up the extra space in the hole you’ve drilled in the wall.

Since they snuggly grip the edges of the hole, they can assist the screw with staying in place. The extra bonus of wall plugs is that they hold the screw in without creating additional wear, tear, and damage to the walls.