How to drill into concrete with a regular drill?

Drilling into concrete is no joke. It’s a thick solid material and requires the right technique and steps to ensure it’s done appropriately to avoid long-term issues and making a big mess of your wall/post. While most houses are made out of wood, an increasing number of us are living in big city skyrises that are made of steel frames and concrete.

Let’s review what concrete is and how to drill into it so you can hang shelving or pictures by yourself.

Our recommended drills/bits

If you want a great drill that can get the job done at a reasonable price, check this one out:

Here are also some great masonry drill bits that can get the job done as well for drilling into concrete

While most drills can get the job done, having a drill with a good grip and that’s made with a sturdy build is important. That’s why I suggest using either Dewalt or Milwaukee brands which are all made with the highest of quality in the industry.

What is concrete made of?

Surprising to many, but concrete is primarily made up of sand and crushed stone which is held together with cement to make a strong building material. Cement is a fine powder made from minerals that when water is added to it, it becomes a paste that acts as a stable binding agent.

While most structures typically get weaker over time, concrete has the opposite effect and gets stronger with age. The typical ratio of cement to a substrate is 15% cement and the rest sand/stone.

You can watch also this documentary if you want to know more:

What’s the difference between mortar, brick, and concrete?

While concrete is the most common building material used for sidewalks, flooring, walls, etc, there are a few other substances similar to concrete that is made in the same way but have different materials added.

Mortar for an example has the same primary bonding agent of cement but has lime added. It’s used primarily to hold objects like bricks and stones together. Bricks are all around us in old buildings and are made primarily from clay which is formed into bricks and then baked inside a kiln to make them hard like concrete.

What’s the best drill to use on concrete?

The best drills used for drilling into concrete are hammer drills and while other drills also can be used (as we will go through below) the hammer drill is the most effective. Ideally, the best drill to go through concrete should have some of the following characteristics:

  • Hammer functionality
  • Varying Speeds
  • Made strong with a good grip
  • Masonry drill bits

Can you drill into concrete with a regular drill?

Absolutely you can drill into concrete with a regular non-hammer type drill, but it’s not going to be easy to complete. In an ideal world you’d want to look around to see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member but if you have the right drill bits, it’s very possible to get a hole for hanging shelves and pictures from the walls from.

The reason a hammer drill is ideal for concrete is due to the “pounding” action that pushes through concrete easier. With a regular drill, the only thing you have going for you is the turning speed of the drill.

How to drill into concrete with a regular drill

To start, you’ll need to ensure you get masonry drill bits. They are specially designed to get through tough substances and are typically made of strong steel with the tip is coated with tungsten carbide to provide that tough cutting edge.

You’ll want to prep the following items before you start:

  • Facemask and safety glasses
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Masonry drill bits

Safety: Ensure to wear a face mask and safety glasses when working with concrete. The drilling procedure into concrete turns much of the concrete into a fine powder which can get into your eyes and respiratory system which can cause health issues.

Follow these steps in order to drill into concrete effectively and not ruin your drill or masonry bits:

  1. Mark the location of the hole you want to drill and mark it with a pencil.
  2. To start drilling select the smallest masonry drill bit and push the masonry drill bit into the location you want to drill. Start drilling with only a little pressure.
  3. Apply additional pressure and start drilling. If at any time you hear or feel that the drill is starting to bog down and become slow ease up on the pressure. Adding too much pressure can cause you to break the drill bit off in the hold which can run the drill bit or even the rill itself.
  4. While drilling, constantly pulls the drill bit in and out of the hole to clean the dust out of the hole so the drill can work more effectively with less friction. Also every minute or so spray the hole with water to ensure the drill bit doesn’t get too overheated. Overheating drill bits are prone to breaking.
  5. After you have a go in a reasonable distance, increase the drill bit size and start again from the start of the hole and drill again into the depthless that you want.
  6. Keep following these steps slowly increasing the size of the drill bit until you’ve achieved the diameter of the hole you’re looking for.
  7. If you encounter an area that seems to be too hard for your drill to handle, pull the drill bit out of the hole. Insert a hardened nail into the hole and give it a few hits with a hammer to break up the area. Increase your drill bit to go around that section a bit and continue drilling again.

Drill into concrete with a regular drill - infographic

Watch the video if you want to know a bit more. This guy also has some great tips:

2 Comments
  1. I didn’t know that there were drill bits that let you drill into concrete. I would have thought it is just too hard. Do you have any information on how to rent equipment for drilling into concrete? I think that would be easier.

  2. The really small drill bit works quite easy compared with bigger size. Its all I need really. the screws seem to go in even without raw plugs but if it comes loose I put some in later or I find some stick to tap in. big hole is big mess.

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