Are you planning on attaching an awning to your patio? Maybe you want to fasten down some gym equipment in your garage or attach something to the concrete floor. For these and other projects, you might need to drill into a concrete floor. This may seem like a daunting project, but it’s definitely possible to DIY. We’ve researched the topic and consulted professionals so you can learn how to drill holes into a concrete floor.
To drill holes into the concrete floor:
- Clean the area and put on protective gear.
- Use a quality hammer drill and masonry bit.
- Mark the drill bit or use a depth guide so you stop at the correct depth.
- Go slowly, remove the bit every 10 seconds to remove dust.
- Vacuum out the hole, or use canned air or a rubber squeeze bulb to blow dust out.
Sometimes there is no way around it, you need to drill holes into a concrete floor. But if you use the right tools and follow some safety advice, you shouldn’t have any problem drilling the holes yourself. Read on to learn the detailed steps of drilling into a concrete floor!
How to drill into a concrete floor
Drilling into a concrete floor isn’t exactly easy, but it’s definitely possible. The most important thing is to always protect yourself from injury. This means you need safety goggles, gloves, a mask, and close-fitting clothing that protects your body from flying debris.
Concrete dust is very toxic; avoid breathing it in. Keep the area clean and completely free of loose articles.
You’ll need a good quality drill - a hammer drill is best - and some masonry drill bits. A masonry drill bit has a tip designed to chip and break the concrete while drilling. Makita and Diablo are masonry drill bit manufacturers that have tested well for efficiency when drilling into concrete - see for yourself:
Purchase the correct size drill bit; the size you need is dependent on why you are drilling the holes, or what size screw you are using. If you are using an anchor to secure a screw into the hole later, check that the hole you are drilling fits the anchor specifications. The manufacturer’s directions should tell you the correct diameter to drill.
Older concrete is often harder, so you may need to drill a hole with a smaller bit, then drill again with a larger bit, and again until you reach the right size.
The Drilling Process
- With the hammer drill and masonry bit, carefully position the drill.
- Start slowly until you make an indentation in the correct spot. If you are drilling a large hole - over 1/4-inch diameter - use a smaller bit to make a *pilot hole first.
- Hold the drill vertical with one hand on the trigger and one hand on the handle.
- Place the drill bit at the indentation or pilot hole.
- Press the trigger and push down carefully on the drill.
- Go slowly and steadily; remove the drill every 10 seconds to allow dust to escape the hole.
- Drill until you reach the correct depth; add 1/2-inch to the length for accumulated dust. You can mark the drill with tape, so you know when to stop if you have no depth guide.
- If the bit gets stuck, pull back carefully and slowly with the power on.
- Vacuum the dust out or blow it out with canned air or a rubber squeeze bulb.
*A pilot hole is simply a term meaning any hole that helps to guide a drill-bit, embed a screw, or begin a larger drill hole.
A simple piece of tape on this drill bit tells you when you’ve reached the correct depth.
How to screw into concrete without a hammer drill
You can screw into concrete without a hammer drill, but you still have to drill a pilot hole. If you don’t have a hammer drill, you can substitute a regular drill and use the steps outlined above.
The four biggest differences when using a regular drill are:
- More effort - physical energy - needed to use the drill.
- More care needed to prevent injury or tool breakage.
- Time to drill each hole is longer, 5 to 10 minutes for a 2-inch hole.
- The type of drill bit needed.
Concrete is very tough, so without the mechanics of a hammer drill on your side, you’ll need more physical force. You can also overheat the drill motor on a regular drill, let it cool down every few minutes.
The drill bit
You’ll also need a stronger drill bit like carbide or diamond-tipped. You are cutting the concrete when you use a rotary drill instead of hammering the pieces out with a hammer drill.
When you are drilling, you may notice smoke coming out of the hole. This is because the carbide is heating up and burning. A burning tip can create a fire or break and cause an injury and ruin the drill bit.
To prevent injury or damage, be sure to remove the drill bit every 15 to 20 seconds when using a rotary drill and cool it down with water. Dip it in a cup of water or keep a spray bottle of water convenient.
What is the easiest way to drill into a concrete floor?
The easiest way to drill into a concrete floor is by using a hammer drill and a masonry bit. You may wonder why everyone recommends using the hammer drill. The hammer drill combines the rotary action of a drill plus the percussive force of rapid hammering action.
It’s a little bit like having a hand-held, jack-hammer. The hammering action of a hammer drill breaks the concrete. When combined with a masonry drill bit, the result is faster, easier, and safer than using a standard drill.
Can you screw into a concrete floor?
If you want to screw directly into a concrete floor, you can do it - if you drill a pilot hole first. Even if you use special concrete screws, you cannot skip the step of drilling a pilot hole.
Concrete is like rock, and it gets harder as it ages. You could break your drill, your bit, or the concrete screw and cause injury to yourself or damage to your tools.
Alternately, you may want to screw into a concrete floor, but you’re concerned about drilling the pilot holes for your screws into utility pipes. In this case, the answer is you can still do the job, as long as those pipes were buried correctly and/or the hole for your screw is not deep enough to reach anything buried.
The good news is that most building codes require utility pipes to be buried at a minimum depth - usually 4 inches deep - under concrete slabs, so drilling a 1 or 2-inch deep hole should not be a problem. The bad news is that if your house is older, pipes could be closer than current codes allow.
Finding buried utility pipes
If you have concerns over buried pipes in an old house, or you are drilling fairly deep holes for screws, then you can rent a neat tool like a pipe locater. They can be bought or sometimes rented at the hardware store or from an equipment rental company.
There are several types of pipe-locaters, and they employ many levels of technology. But even a simple pipe locater will help you avoid drilling into any questionable areas.
How do you screw screws into a concrete floor?
To screw screws directly into the concrete floor, you must drill a pilot hole first. The size of the screw will determine the diameter of your pilot hole. Check the instructions on the package of concrete screws when you buy them. The correct pilot hole diameter is usually included on the back of the package.
- Drill a pilot hole 1/2-inch deeper than the screw length; this is to allow space for accumulated dust.
- Once you have a pilot hole, vacuum or blow out as much dust as possible.
- Position the item you are screwing over the pilot hole.
- Insert the tip of the concrete screw through your item and into the pilot hole.
- Start slowly, and steadily screw the screw into the pilot hole with a rotary drill until it is firmly seated.
Now you know that drilling holes into a concrete floor is not as tough as it seems. Never forget your safety gear when drilling concrete, especially breathing protection. If you don’t have a hammer drill, you can rent one or substitute a regular drill and a carbide drill tip if you only need to drill 1 to 5 holes.
Always drill a pilot hole for screws - you can find the correct size by looking at the package - and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done!
For additional information on concrete floors, read: