Can You Use a Regular Drill to Drill Into Concrete

We get asked this single question more than any other question here at our website. Can you use a normal drill to drill into concrete?

You cannot use a regular drill to drill though concrete as it doesn't have any type of hammering feature. To drill through concrete requires a rotary drilling action and a bumping action to be effective. You need a hammer drill or a drill with a hammer feature for any type of masonry drilling.

The same applies to any type of masonry, and masonry includes brick, concrete, cement, stone and marble. As you will know these are really tough materials, and a bog standard drill will struggle to get through those tougher materials.

It is however possible but it will take a very long time. Even a small hole can take a long time, and that assumes that you are using a masonry drill bit.  If you want the drilling job done quickly and efficiently, then you really need a hammer dill for that specific purpose.

What Do You Need to Drill Through Concrete?

You only need two things to be able to easily drill through concrete. Those are:

  1. A drill with a hammer function or a hammer drill
  2. A masonry drill bit which will vary depending on what size of hole is required

The Difference Between a Regular Drill and a Hammer Drill

The Regular Drill

If you own a normal or regular drill it will either be corded or cordless. The corded one plugs into the main's electric, whereas the cordless drill will run off some type of battery.

They both do the same job of drilling though, and those are usually suitable for drilling wood and metal. They are also used quite a lot as a cordless screwdriver, and they are able to drive screws into wood.

You can also use a regular drill on plasterboard, floorboards and most types of wood.

The Hammer Drill or Hammer Function 

With a hammer drill you get the same functionality as the regular drill but in addition it also has this hammer function.

All drills have what is called a rotary function, in that it will drill using a clockwise movement which spins and twists the drill bit into the material.

The hammer drill has that rotary function, but it also has a hammer function. This hammer action means that the drill bit attached to the chuck bit travels in and out, as well as spinning around.

In other words it acts like an extremely fast hammer.

The actual force of the hammer  blow is small, but the hammering action is very fast indeed. It is measured in BPM. This stands for Blows per Minute. Some people also refer to this as "bumps per minute." Some manufacturers also call this IPM which stands for impacts per minute.

That is exactly why a hammer drill drills much faster and more efficiently than a regular drill through concrete or masonry of any kind

Using a Hammer Drill for Concrete

The only time that you ever need a hammer drill is in fact to drill through concrete or masonry. You NEVER use the hammer feature to drill wood or metal as by doing that you would ruin all your bits.

The guys in the video explain when you should and should not use the hammer function on your drill.

Masonry Bits for drilling Concrete

There are lots of different types of drill bits. We will not bore you with a long list of those here. The bottom line is that different drill bits are required for drilling into different materials.

Most home owners at some stage will have to drill into wood or plasterboard. For that type of drilling a wood bit is required. If drilling into metal then a metal drill bit is required.

Likewise when drilling into concrete then you need to have a masonry drill bit. Using any other type of drill bit for masonry will ruin that drill bit in just a few seconds.

Masonry bits come in a wide range of diameters and lengths, depending on the type of drilling job that you want to do. We have completed a full article here on the best masonry drill bits, which might be of interest to you.

Check Your Drill - It might be suitable for concrete

Many home owners have what they believe to be just your standard normal drill or drill/driver. They may not even be aware that there is a hammer function on the drill they have.

Usually there is a sliding button on top of the drill with clear markings. We have shown where that button is usually located on top of the drill.

hammer drill function

On most drills there will be a drilling symbol and if a hammer feature is available then that will usually be represented with a drawing of a small hammer. You simply slide this button sideways to use the hammer feature, or the opposite way to get just the drilling feature.

All drills basically look the same. They have a handle with a trigger, a motor inside a housing and then the chuck where the bit goes. You may also find three other buttons or switches

  • Forward/reverse - reverse is normally used to remove screws, otherwise it will be in the forward or clockwise position
  • Hammer/Drilling feature - as we have explained above
  • Torque settings - usually located in a ring style selection close to the chuck.

Types of Hammer Drill

  • Dedicated Drill
  • Corded Drill Using Hammer Option
  • Cordless Drill Using Hammer Option
  • Percussion
  • Electro-Pneumatic
  • Rotary Hammer

For most home owners, they will either own a cordless drill/driver or a corded drill. The other drill types listed above are used by specialist trades for heavy duty masonry drilling.

To get through concrete, just check if you have a hammer feature on your drill. If you have, then you just need the right size of masonry bit, and you are good to go. If you don't then you will have to buy one with a hammer feature, or rent one from a local supplier.

About the author cordy

I am a retired construction worker and I also happen to love power tools. I have used hundreds over the years and offer my opinions on them here.

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