Bolts VS Screws: A Guide to Using Each One and When

Want to start a new home project but you aren’t sure if you should be using bolts or screws? Don’t worry – this is a common question that many home DIYers have had to ask themselves time and time again.

Bolts VS ScrewsView in gallery

Both bolts and screws are necessary for some projects. While each is similar to the other, there are still clear jobs where a bolt would be better than a screw, and vice versa. If you aren’t sure if you’re task at hand would require a bolt or a screw, keep reading! We have all the necessary information and more that you’d need to determine which one to use at which time.

What are Bolts Used For?

What are Bolts Used ForView in gallery

Compared to screws, bolts offer the best holding strength. Bolts can be used on anything from metal, wood to concrete as they provide the best holding strength compared to any other fastener. The reason bolts are so strong is because of their threads which secure them tightly into a space.

Bolts require a nut and a washer to complete their installation as the washer helps spread the load over a large surface area. This helps reduce wear and tear and prevents your bolt from loosening over time as it is securely held in place with a nut.

What are Screws Used For?

Screws are entirely versatile as a fastener which makes them a very popular choice within the DIY world. They also have threads that will keep them securely in place and you can do a wide variety of projects with them. Screws are typically used for wood, metal, installing drywall or even some concrete surfaces.

They vary in size so you can choose the size of screw that is appropriate for the job. While many screws are self-tapping and secure themselves tightly into your surface, many people still prefer to use a drill and pilot hole for extra security. Pilot holes mostly help with time, as it’s easier to drill your holes first and then add in your screw.

What About Nuts and Washers?

What About Nuts and WashersView in gallery

Nuts and washers are great in helping secure a bolt into place, but not all nuts and washers are the same.

Hex Nuts

The most common type of nut as they can fasten to many different materials. Hex nut is short for hexagonal nut and it’s a fastener with six sides, which makes it easier to grasp and tighten.

Flat Washers

A flat washer is also sometimes known as a type A plain washer as this is the most common type of washer you can find. These washers are circular and flat with a variety of thicknesses that will accommodate a bolt.

Lock Washers

A lock washer is designed to be tightened to a required torque beneath a regular fastener. These washers exert a spring tension to keep the fastener from vibrating loose. These washers are attached usually to the nut side of a fastener.

Consider the Material of Your Bolts and Screws

Consider the Material of Your Bolts and ScrewsView in gallery

While there is a variety of materials to work with for your next project, steel, plastic, and titanium are some of the most popular materials. While all of these materials are great to work with, they are very different from each other.

  • Steel – It is a very strong material that will hold in place and won’t wear over time. Steel is one of the most durable materials you can use, which is why so many builders use steel bolts and screws whenever they are doing large scale jobs such as construction for buildings or industrial work.
  • Plastic – Plastic bolts and screws, while easy to work with and lightweight, are perfect for more around the house DIY projects. You wouldn’t want to use plastic screws or bolts on a large scale, heavy project, but they are ideal to use on simpler projects that still need secure fastening.
  • Titanium – Much like steel, titanium is one of the strongest metals you can ever use. It is even stronger than steel and much more durable. The only problem with titanium is that it can be very expensive to use in a large bulk, so only use titanium materials when you absolutely need them.

Different Head Types for Screws

Phillips

A Phillips screwdriver has two blades in the shape of a cross. A Philips screws driver is great for twisting in screws and could not be successfully used where a flathead screwdriver was needed, so they are not interchangeable.

Flathead

A flathead screwdriver has a single blade, which are most commonly used for slotted screws. The same goes for flathead screwdrivers as they can’t be used in place of a Phillips screwdriver as they will not work.

The Best Nuts and Bolts Set for Your Workshop

Whether you are planning a large-scale job, or you simply want some of the best screws and bolts you can find for your next DIY project, here is a list of the top products you can find online today.

1035 Piece Grade 5 Nut Bolt and Washer Assortment Hex Head Bolts

1035 Piece Grade 5 Nut Bolt and Washer Assortment Hex Head BoltsView in gallery


What’s Included:

  • Grade 5 Fasteners
  • Includes 5 Different Sizes
  • 30 Heavy-Duty Plastic Bins
  • Bin Identification Labels Included
  • Nuts and Bolts, Flat Washers, Lock Washers

A massive assortment of 1,035 pieces, this kit comes with hardened fasteners, hex nuts, flat washers, lock washers and even hex bolts for all your project needs. There is a multitude of sizes within this collection completely organized in 30 convenient plastic bins that even has ID labels included. This is a great set for anyone who needs a little bit of everything.

1150 Piece Stainless Steel Hex Head Cap Screw

1150 Piece Stainless Steel Hex Head Cap ScrewView in gallery


What’s Included:

  • 18-8 (304) Stainless Parts
  • Cap Screws (Bolts)
  • Standard hex nuts
  • Flat and Lock Washers
  • Sizes are 1/4″ to 1/2″
  • Metal drawers and dividers

Agriline Supply has all of your screws and bolts need conveniently compiled in this massive set of steel supplies. This set comes compete with hex head cap screws, hex nuts, flat washers, and lock washers in multiple sizes. All of these items are easy to locate in a durable plastic divider with coated cold rolled steel drawers for easier opening and closing. This is a great set for the avid builder who needs something with a little more finesse in his or her workshop.

MYTOW Self Drilling & Self Tapping Screws Assortment Kit Set

MYTOW Self Drilling & Self Tapping Screws Assortment Kit SetView in gallery


What’s Included:

  • Phillips’s zinc, plated steel screwdrivers
  • Round, flat, wafter, bugle, pan, truss head styles
  • Flat, round, bugle head types
  • 250-piece set

This set from Mytow features plenty of self-drilling and self tapping screws in a massive 250-piece set. This is a high stability set with screws made for high quality zinc plated steel with superior anti rust qualities. These are corrosion resistance screws that are so sturdy and so durable they might just last you a lifetime with proper care. These screws would work best with a screw gun that is not included. This is all stored in a storage case with removable dividers which are customizable so you can easily tailor this set to your direct specifications.

Finishes and Plating for Fastening Materials

Much like the materials used for screws and bolts, the makeup of your finishes and plating materials matters just as much when it comes to finding durable fastening materials.

Zinc

Commonly used for plating and has great rest resisting property as well as a very low cost, which makes zinc very popular.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Good
  • color: White to blueish gray

Cadmium

It has amazing rust resistant qualities and is most commonly used in both aviation and marine applications. Cadmium has a high price point and is unfortunately quite bad for the environment.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Excellent
  • color: Bright or dull silver gray

Zinc Dichromate

Much like the properties of zinc, zinc dichromate is highly durable and has excellent corrosion resistance. While zinc dichromate is not as popular as zinc, due to the corrosion resistance, this metal is sought out for specific jobs.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Very good to excellent
  • color: Gold

Cadmium Dichromate

This finish has superior rust resisting qualities and is often used in industrial jobs. These properties make this a popular finish to use.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Good to excellent
  • color: Gold to copper

Galvanized

Galvanized occurs when parts are coated in concentrated zinc, giving the product the best corrosion protection. This process adds a thick coating, and the sizing should be adjusted to allow for the thickness of the coating.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Very good
  • color: Dully gray

Black Zinc

Black zinc works very well on most materials and has very good corrosion resistance. This means these materials won’t corrode and will last you a very long time.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Very good to excellent
  • color: Black, dull black

Black Phosphate

Black phosphate is zinc or manganese phosphate used with a rust-inhibiting oil dip. These materials are sought out due to their low cost to buy.

  • Use on: Usually steel and metals
  • corrosion resistance: Good
  • color: Charcoal gray or black

Chrome

Chrome has a hard, lustrous finish that adds wear resistance. While these materials are very strong, they are also very expensive so not used often or only used in high end jobs.

  • Use on: All metals
  • corrosion resistance: Very Good
  • color: Bright blue or white

Nickel

Nickel has a hard, stable finish that makes it suitable for a wide range of jobs. It is relatively expensive and sometimes hard to apply and work with, so you need someone who is highly experienced with the material.

  • Use on: All Metals
  • corrosion resistance: Very Good
  • color: Silver

FAQs

What is the best material for a screw?

Silicon bronze and/or stainless steel. Due to the resistance to rust and corrosion of these materials, silicon bronze and/or stainless steel are your best bet when it comes to the best screw materials.

What type of steel is used for bolts?

Carbone steel. Carbon steel is the most commonly used type of steel for fasteners because they have alloyed carbon which produce a higher end, harder, more durable material for metals. They are very popular and used very often.

Which bolts are the strongest?

Commercial grade 8 bolts. These are the strongest options available when looking for bolts as the yare made from medium carbon alloy steel and have six raised dashes for extra tight fitting. These bolts can withstand amazing amounts of pressure due to the tempering of these materials.

Is Grade 8 or 10.9 stronger?

Grade 10.9 is stronger than Grade 8. The first is commonly found in higher strength jobs such as automotive needs and applications. Grade 8 is more of a low carbon steel grade for general use and jobs.

What are the 3 types of screws?

The three most common types of screws are machine, sheet metal and cap screws. You will see these screws in all kinds of jobs as they have multiple purposes.

What kind of screws go into studs?

Screws like drywall screws fit into studs. These are fully threaded screws which are ideal for inside projects like installing drywall. To hang drywall, you’d need coarse threaded screws when dealing with wood studs, but for metal studs you should use fine threaded screws.

The Nitty Gritty on Screws and Bolts

So, there you have it – all the information you’d ever need on the best types of screws and bolts, and how to use them for each job. While all of these products are great, if we had to choose one, we’d choose the 250-piece set from MYTOW since it is a truly great set with a little bit of everything.

Did you find the information you were looking for? Do you have any experience with using these types of screws and bolts? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share you experiences with any of these amazing products in the comments below so we can all gain a little more insight.

And don’t forget to check out our website for more home product ideas that could help you along with your next project. Like our guide to choosing the best drywall saw!