How to Drill Into Concrete

Isn’t it interesting how hard it is to make a hole on concrete using just a nail and a hammer? You must have tried at one point to get a nail through concrete, and it just couldn’t go through. A situation that makes you wonder, how the shelves and light in your kitchen were installed. Well, the trick is to use a drill.

Drills are used to make holes in concrete, and the process is quite simple. If it is a DIY, you have to ensure that you have the right tools and know-how to use them. The perfect tool to use to drill into concrete is a hammer drill and below is a step-by-step procedure on how to use it.

Materials needed

  • Dust mask
  • Ear protection
  • Safety gloves

Tools needed

  • Masonry screws
  • Hammer drill
  • Carbide
  • Pencil
  • dust mask
  • Masking tape

Drilling into concrete produces a lot of noise that could damage your ears, so to be safe, you will wear ear protection. The dust produced is also toxic when inhaled, especially if you are working on a big project, so operators must ensure to have their dust mask on, anytime that they are working with the drill machine.

Procedure for drilling a hole into the concrete

  1. The first step is to check the wall for ductwork, wiring, and pipes that are likely to get damaged when drilling, if none is found mark the spot that you want to drill the hole.
  2. Get a masking tape and mark on the bit, if the drill does not come with a stop bar. But if it does have a stop bar, you will set it at ¼ inch longer than the depth needed for the hole.
  3. You will then insert the appropriate size carbide masonry bit, and fasten it using the provided key before you begin drilling. You will then make a guide hole, grip the drill with the right hand and then use your left hand to brace it. Ensure to stand with feet shoulder-width apart and keep the drill perpendicular to the surface.
  4. As you begin to drill don’t exert too much force because you could break the drill bit. Start drilling with the lowest speed, as you push forward but with steady pressure until you reach the desired depth. When drilling dust will accumulate on the hole, and which will require you to stop occasionally and blow it out, or better yet use a vacuum to get rid of it.
  5. You will then replace the drill bit in the guide hole and drill using medium speed until you achieve the desired depth.

How to get through tough pieces of concrete

At times when you are drilling, you might find it hard to get through a tough area of the concrete wall. If this happens, you can stop drilling, get a masonry nail and insert it into the hole. Hammer it to break up the tough concrete, as you break up the concrete, be keen not to drive the nail in too deep because it could be hard to get it out. If you successfully break the tough concrete wall, you can now put your drill back and continue drilling.

There are occasions during drilling, that you might hit the rebar and which would lead to the production of sparks; if you find yourself in this situation, you must stop and change the drilling bit. Insert the rebar cutting drill bit and use it until you are sure that you have passed the obstruction.

Using a rotary drill to drill into concrete

Rotary drills are not the best tools to use when drilling into concrete, because they take longer when compared to using hammer drills. What’s more, is that the rotary drills will require the operator to use more physical effort, heat build-up is inevitable thus chances of your drill bit breaking up are high.

The rotary or regular drill can also cause concrete cracks, and that is why it is better to use a carbide-tipped drill bit and a hammer drill. Power drills are deemed effective for drilling into concrete because the power supply is solid and does not cut or diminish when compared to using a rotary drill.  However, if you only have a rotary drill below are features that you should look out for that will help you drill into concrete.

Use a masonry drill bit

While the rotary drill might not be the best equipment to use for drilling into concrete if you have one ensure to use a masonry drill bit because it has been made with the features that can steadily tackle concrete.  Masonry bits have a broad and flat tip, with blade-like tip ends built into it.

Torque settings and battery volt

Ensure that your rotary drill has incorporated the torque settings, which normally presents as a rotating ring with different values, on the chuck of the drill. And when using the drill on concrete, ensure to rotate the torque to the highest power setting.

Also, check on the drill’s battery power, for drilling into concrete, a regular drill with a large battery, of about 18-20 volts should suffice. The above does not mean that a lower voltage will not work, only that you might have to alternate with a newly charged battery.

Combi drills

Some of the cordless drills in the market incorporate the hammer action, and if that is the case then you can expect the masonry bit to move up and down in a hammering motion, it will also twist and drill. The above functionality features are best utilized when working with hard materials such as stone and concrete. Important to note is that when you use the combi drills, you might take longer to get through concrete, and you will also have to use an assortment of drill bits.


When it comes to drilling into concrete, you might need to use different drill bits to get a neat finish and that applies even if you are using a power drill. Rotary drills can be used to drill into concrete but more effort will be required. Be sure to use the relevant drill bit, and for tough projects, you can use water to protect the drill bit and to suck out the dust.


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Arthur Allen has been using all sorts of power tools for the last 27 years, gaining a lot of experience on how they work, how to determine what makes a power good, and becoming an expert on the subject through many years of real world trial and error. Not only is Arthur and expert in tools, but various building jobs as well.