Types and Uses of Sheet Metal Screws
Construction industries, HVAC companies, roofing contractors, gutter experts and even DIY enthusiasts need access to the right solutions — whether it be the right power tools or the best set of fasteners. But how do you know if sheet metal screws are your best bet compared to other types?
All Points Fasteners gives you a sheet metal screw definition, along with its different types and how to use them. We provide enough guidance to eliminate the guesswork when you’re deciding between sheet metal screws and what type matches your applications.
Sheet Metal Screw Features
As suggested by its name, a sheet metal screw is often used for sheet metal applications. You can fasten metal pieces to other metal objects, or you can attach metal to another surface like plastic, aluminum, plywood, hard rubber or wood.
The fasteners are fully threaded to increase retention between materials. They have sharp tips and threads to help pierce solid metal surfaces and other sturdy resources.
Sheet metal screws are usually made of stainless steel, which aids in durability and long-term performance levels. This coating feature also helps prevent rust and corrosion from forming over time. You can even opt for zinc-plated fasteners or other coatings that are available, but stainless steel is the most common.
Sheet metal screws are categorized by three numbers that represent the screw’s diameter, length and thread count. The diameter, or size, is indicated with a number between zero and 24 to describe the shaft and head diameter. The length represents the measurement of the entire screw. Each fastener also has a pitch that indicates the number of threads per inch of a fastener’s length.
For example, a screw that reads 8-32 x 1 indicates it’s a size 8 with 32 threads per inch and is 1 inch long. Sheet metal screw sizes will vary depending on your project, material and whether you require a pre-drilled hole.
Sheet Metal Screw Types
Like any hardware, fasteners are available in different materials, lengths and gauges. They also have different point, head and slot variations. The two main types of sheet metal screws are self-tapping and self-drilling, each having many features to choose from.
Self-tapping screws are ideal for jobs that have pre-drilled holes. The screws often have sharp tips to drive the screw through the metal. The technique of using a pilot hole helps prevent the splitting of the material, creating a more seamless finish.
Self-drilling sheet metal screws have a tip that’s more like a drill point to penetrate metal without the need for a pilot hole. It helps preserve the integrity of the material by avoiding denting. You can fit the screw to your drill bit and drive it into a surface.
Which type and features you need will depend on the task at hand. The point, head and slot type of sheet metal screws work for a variety of jobs in every industry.
Sheet metal screws are available in three point types.
- Type A screws have coarse threads and gimlet points that are used in thin metals and wood.
- Type AB is a fine thread screw, also with gimlet points. AB fasteners are ideal for more fragile materials, producing a wider range of applications compared to Type A.
- Type B has blunt tips and spaced threads for plastics and plywood, as well as thinner metals.
Each sheet metal screw also has varying head types — flat, hex, hex washer, oval, pan and truss.
Based on the requirements of your job, do you need the screw to be flush against another surface? Or, will your project do well with a screw that sits above?
- Flat: A flat head has a Phillips or slotted style that provides an ideal countersink for various materials, which means it rests below the surface. A flat head design features self-drilling options with a drill point at the tip of the fastener.
- Hex: A hex has a hexagonal head that’s often used with a nut to make a secure attachment.
- Hex washer: A hex washer is a secondary name used for sheet metal screws. Like the hex, it has a hexagonal head, but it also has a washer to secure the screw’s shaft to the material.
- Oval: An oval sheet metal screw head is like a flat head screw. However, it has more girdles on the top to provide a finished look. The head sits flush against a surface for a reduction in wind resistance and enhances installation. You can use a Phillips or slotted screwdriver.
- Pan: A pan head type is rounded and protrudes above a surface when the installation is complete. It features a Phillips or slotted-head variation. A pan head also has self-drilling options with a drill point at the tip of the fastener. Along with a stainless steel or zinc coating, a pan can also be white or black-coated.
- Truss: A truss has a wider head and rounded top with a Phillips style slot.
Depending on the tools you have available, you may be able to work with all three slots — cross, slotted and square.
- Cross: A cross, also known as a double slot, has two slits perpendicular to each other. You can use a use a slotted or Philips screwdriver.
- Slotted: Known as the original slot type, slotted versions have a single slit down the center of the screw head. You can use a flathead screwdriver to tighten the fastener.
- Square: A square type is recessed, making it resistant to slipping when you’re screwing.
Figure out which point, head and slot type best suit your projects, whether you work in the construction, gutter or roofing industries.
How to Use Sheet Metal Screws
Uses of sheet metal screws can differ if you’re working with sheet metal one day and attaching metal to a plywood surface the next. Always start with the right protective gear for any hardware project. For example, eyewear will shield your eyes from metal shavings and other potential hazards.
Be careful not to over-tighten the screws because you can strip the heads or damage the material.
- Select a power drill or screwdriver.
- Choose the right size screw.
- Select the ideal material.
- Determine the right head style.
- Pick between pilot-hole screws and self-drilling screws.
- Clamp together the two objects you need to fasten.
- Press the screw firmly onto the surface, making sure it doesn’t spin and stray from the desired point.
- Begin drilling at a low speed.
- When the sheet metal screw starts to pierce the material, speed up the drill.
- Don’t continue to drill once it’s tight because you will strip the slots.
- Drilling too tight can also stretch out the screw’s threads and cause it to lose optimum strength.
Once you have all the supplies you need, make sure to drill slowly with precision and caution. Operating too fast can split the sheet metal or cause other damage to the material. If you need further help understanding which is best for your jobs, rely on the professionals for advice.
The Fastener Experts Have You Covered
All Points Fasteners is a fastener distributor that goes the extra mile to chase down what you need. We provide sheet metal screw solutions and even find uncommon fasteners when your projects rely on unique results. Our specialists will suggest what premium parts will work best for your applications to keep your operations running. We are American owned and operated, striving to build long-term relationships with your company.
Browse our inventory of sheet metal screws or reach out to our service team online for support. You can also call us at 800-483-6354. All Points offers a live chat to help you find the right part for the job, too.
Gutter Installation Guide
Do you want to install rain gutters on your house and save money doing it? Lucky for you, there’s a straightforward way you can install your own gutters and save substantially. Almost all hardware stores and home centers sell guttering designed explicitly for easy installation. With just a little more work, you’ll be able to assemble gutters — along with downspouts — that have strong, sleek lines.
Before you start your gutter installation project, make sure there’s no rotted wood on the fascia and soffit. Any rotted wood will need replacement before gutters are installed. Also, you’ll need to prime and paint all wood before hanging the gutters.
Tools Needed for a Gutter Project
Gutter installation requires the following tools:
- Extension ladder
- Cordless drill
- Offset tin snips
- Pop rivet gun
- Duckbill tin snips
- Hex head driver
Materials Needed for a Gutter Project
Before jumping right into your gutter project, make sure you have the following supplies:
- Gutter sealant
- Gutter flashing
- Gutter hanging strap
- 1/8-in. medium length rivets
- 1/4″ hex head screws, or sippers
- 1 1/4″ self-tapping hex head screws
How to Install Gutters
Gutters are designed to prevent soil erosion, basement leaks and siding damage and divert rainwater away from the foundation of your house. A practical guide for gutter installation involves the following steps:
- Purchase needed materials.
- Place a chalk line across the fascia to create an appropriate angle toward the downspout end.
- Determine the length of the gutter by measuring the fascia.
- Apply gutter sealant to the end cap.
- Press the cap onto one end of the gutter.
- Using a crimper tool, secure the end cap to the gutter.
- Use tin snips and a hacksaw to cut the gutter to the appropriate measurements.
- Use a hole saw and hammer to cut out a round hole in the gutter for a downspout outlet.
- Administer gutter sealant to the flange of the downspout outlet.
- Screw the outlet to the hole in the gutter.
- For the time being, screw the gutter to the fascia. Make sure the gutter is approximately 2 inches below the chalk line.
- Set up hanging brackets on the gutter, arranging one in front of each rafter.
- Elevate the gutter to the chalk line.
- Screw through the fascia and into the end piece of the rafter to join together each bracket.
- Place two concrete pavers that are 2 inches thick on the ground directly underneath the downspout outlet.
- Position a rain barrel over the top of the concrete pavers.
- Use a hacksaw to incise and assemble the downspout and elbows.
- Screw the upper portion of the downspout to the downspout outlet poking out from the gutter.
- Use mounting straps to fasten the downspout to the house.
- Install a diverter in the downspout, arranging it even with the top of the rain barrel.
- Attach a small length of downspout to the underside of the diverter.
- Hook up the diverter’s flexible hose to the port on the side of the rain barrel.
Contact All Points Fasteners Today
At All Points Fasteners, we specialize in ceramic, copper and stainless steel ZIP & TEK® Screws. We also provide quality fasteners, self-tapping screws, self-drilling screws, zip screws, copper rivets and stainless rivets, and we can suggest any premium part for your job. All Points uses the same company for manufacturing when it comes to our brand of tek® screws — this means we can ensure all fasteners are made to the exact specifications.
If you choose us, you’ll enjoy free samples before you order, free quotes, easy pricing and customer service unmatched in the industry. Buy from All Points and get your product on time. Or, contact us to ask any questions about gutter installation or gutter screws that we offer.
History of Screws
If you use screws frequently, you may have, at some point, wondered about the history of the screw. Who invented the screw? How were screws used in ancient times as compared to how they’re used now? When were flat head screws invented? Whether you work in construction or you’re simply a fan of trivia, we’re here to sate your curiosity with some facts about screws.
You may be surprised to find out that screws have been around for quite a long time — since about 400 BC when Archytas of Tarentum invented them. Archytas has been referred to as the founder of mechanics. In addition to his work in mechanics, he also worked in philosophy, mathematics, science, geometry, music theory, acoustics and public affairs.
1. How Were Screws Used in Ancient Times?
One of the initial uses of the screw principle was the extraction of juice from grapes and oil from olives. The screw was then developed to be used in devices for raising water for land irrigation and removing water from ships. Screws were also adapted for use in paper and printing presses.
Though screws have always been useful, it would take centuries before the use of screws became widespread. This delay in extensive use was due to the difficulty of making these tools.
When the first successful screw-cutting lathe was made, long screws could be cut from others. This allowed for correctly sized screws to be mass-produced and for precision screws to be used in the building of steam engines. After that time, screws could also be used in the construction of bridges, canals and roads.
2. When Did Screws Become Popular?
Though the use of screws became more widespread in the mid-1400s, it wasn’t until the mid-1700s that screws were produced in factories. Then in the 1840s, a machine was developed to mass-produce screws in factories. Screws were made in several different shapes and sizes until the National Screw Thread Commission came up with a standard to abide by in 1928, though custom screws continue to be made today for specific jobs. Today, Americans use more than 200 billion screws each year.
Now, what about the history of specific types of screws?
3. Who Invented Tek Screws?
Buildex designed the original self-drilling screws and called them “Tek” screws. Today, the term “tek screws” is used to refer to self-drilling screws. To create this self-drilling screw, a drill bit was placed on the end of a screw. This allowed consumers to avoid pre-drilling a hole before using the screw, saving them time and money.
Initially, self-drilling screws were made with a tall head that had serrations. This was placed under the washer and allowed the screw to lock in place. Once importers began manufacturing their version of the self-drilling screw, they used wanted to save money on materials. This resulted in producers shaving down the heads and removing the serrations so that fewer materials would be needed and the end product would be cheaper to make.
Unfortunately, this also meant a decline in quality. All Points Fasteners returned to the style of old and have reverted to the original design, putting the serrations and tall heads back, while still maintaining a reasonable price. Quality is the priority, and that’s what consumers will find with our tek screws.
Common Uses of Screws
Screws are a vital part of any construction or building project. You wouldn’t hang up a small picture frame in your living room with a house nail, would you? Or use an upholstery tack to build furniture? Yet when it comes to selecting the right screw for the job, many people will simply grab whatever’s closest to complete projects or make a repair. Using the correct screw is crucial for completing a project correctly and avoiding problems like snapping screw heads or loose screws.
Screws are created in various shapes, so figuring out which screw is the right tool for your project comes down to knowing how you’ll need to use it. What type of materials and items will you be fastening together? What sort of machinery will you be using?
The categories related to screw design include drive type, head style and the type of point on the screw. As you can imagine, the combinations are nearly endless, which is why screws are such a versatile tool with many common uses. The following are a few examples of screws and their uses:
1. Tek Screws
Tek screws can be used in various industries. These screws are typically used in metal-to-metal applications and you can use them with different substrates and gauges of metals. Tek screws are commonly used in HVAC, sheet metal and roofing. Some of these screws are designed for specific purposes, so consider the screw specifications when making your selection.
2. Copper Screws
Typical uses of copper screws are gutter installation, construction and sheet metal roofing. Copper screws are durable, sustainable and aesthetically appealing. They also conduct heat and energy and have antimicrobial properties. These qualities make copper screws an excellent tool for construction, as they are resistant to deterioration and corrosion, and their conduction properties are beneficial for pipes and wires in heating and cooling systems. Because of its antimicrobial properties, a copper screw is also the perfect tool for hospitals and other facilities that need to remain sanitary.
Copper screws can also keep gutters from sagging after they’re exposed to heavy rainfall or snow, and these screws give the home a beautiful aesthetic. Copper screws designed for sheet metal can also preserve the roof’s integrity over time better than nails and can offer a secure fit.
3. Wood Screws
The appropriately-named wood screws are designed to be used in wood. They’re typically made of bronze, brass or steel, and they’re easy to identify due to their coarse threads at the end and unthreaded shanks at the top. Because of their design, wood screws can move through the fibers of wood without much resistance, which reduces splintering.
You can also use concrete screws to fasten objects to concrete and drywall screws to fasten objects to drywall. If you need screws for a project, the odds are good that you’ll be able to find screws that are perfect for the job.
Purchase Screws From All Points Fasteners
You’ll find an extensive inventory of screws at All Points Fasteners. No matter what project you’re working on and what material you’re working with, you can find the screws you need.
We value our customers, so we offer tools of exceptional quality. Contact us to find top-quality screws for your next project.