How Does a Screw Work | Different Types & Uses

When you’re taking on a large project like building a deck or framing a new room, you’ll need an ample supply of screws and other fasteners. If you’re wondering about the different types of screws and when one will work more effectively than another, All Points Fasteners is here to help.

We offer multiple types of screws and have all the information needed to help you use them properly. We’re here to help you get your projects done right and done fast.

How Does a Screw Work?

The world of screws is vast, and you’ll find no shortage of different options when you shop for screws for your next project. How does a screw work?

A screw has the same overall shape as a nail, but it includes a spiraling groove travelling around and down the shaft. The head has several options, including hex, pan, flat and round.  Drives can be slotted or made with a Phillips head design for driving.

When you need to hold two materials or objects together, the groove helps keep the screw in place and the bond secure. To drive the screw into a material, you’ll need a screwdriver or drill that’s compatible with the head design.

There are many different types of screws, and while their exact uses differ, what a screw does best is hold two things together. What are different types of screws used for? Here’s a primer on the different types of screws available to you, as well as some key information as you evaluate what types of screws will work best to meet your needs.

What Is a Screw Used For?

Screws are fasteners for all sorts of construction projects, large and small. The reason there are so many different types of screws is that there are so many different ways objects and materials need to be fastened.

Sometimes screws are classified by the material they are used to fasten. For example, you might find you need concrete screws for fastening objects to concrete, wood screws for fastening objects to wood, or drywall screws for fastening objects to drywall. No one screw or fastening could possibly serve as a one-size-fits-all solution, because there are simply too many different needs and applications for screws and fasteners.

What Are the Different Types of Screws?

Because of how many different ways there are to use screws, you’ll find there are tons of different types of screws. Here are just a few of the different kinds you’ll find when searching for the right solution:

These are just a few of the different types of screws. You may find that the screw you need is classified into one of the categories above, but it’s also categorized by its drive type (Phillips, slotted, combination, star, etc.) or by the shape of its head (oval, flat, button, round, pan, etc.). In some cases, you may find a screw is classified by a combination of terms. For example, you might find that you need a slotted flathead metal screw.

What Is the Difference Between a Self-Tapping Screw and a Normal Screw?

With most screws, you’ll need to drill a pilot hole that creates threads and helps guide the screw into a secure spot. That’s not the case with self-tapping (or self-drilling) screws. When you choose self-tapping screws, there’s no need for a pilot hole. The screw creates its own threads as it is installed and remains tightly in place despite any activity or vibrations.

What’s the benefit of self-tapping screws?

Self-tapping screws save tons of time when you’re working on a significant project. For example, if you’re working to fasten objects and you need to use several dozen screws to get the job done, choosing self-tapping screws can significantly decrease the amount of time the project takes you. This is incredibly important in large construction projects where getting the project done on time is of the utmost importance.

These screws are also reliable, as they hold materials together firmly and have a long service life. Installing self-tapping screws with a coating can also prevent discoloration of the material due to rust or corrosion, making these fasteners ideal for harsh environments.

Get the Screws You Need at All Points Fasteners

At All Points Fasteners, we work each day with service contractors to ensure they have the screws they need to deliver outstanding results. We specialize in tracking down even the most difficult-to-find fastening solutions — so our clients always have access to exactly what they need.

You find nothing but products of the highest quality in our selection, as well as affordable pricing that helps your project stay under budget. We provide domestic quality at an imported price. If you can’t find the right part for your project, let us know and our experts will point you in the right direction. We’re committed to your satisfaction, so we’re always happy to work with you to find the products you need.

Browse our vast selection of screws online today or contact us to learn more.

How to Use Self-Tapping Wood Screws

Using Self-Tapping Screws

In any type of construction job, knowing the different kinds of screws available is essential. Certain projects require specific fasteners and self-tapping screws are one of the many options you can use. These fasteners have cutting threads on their shanks and sharp-pointed or drill pointed tips that allow them to drive into a material and cut their own mating threads unlike a machine screw which requires a nut. Many contractors love using these fasteners because they make attaching materials like wood so much easier. 

Understanding screws and their uses lets you work faster and more efficiently. At All Points Fasteners, we distribute a variety of self-tapping screws and our knowledgeable team is always happy to provide information on how to use our products. Whether you’re working on HVAC jobs, installing gutters or roofing a house, we’ve got the fasteners you need to get the job done.

What Is a Deck Screw?

Deck screws are a type of wood screw with a specific coating on them for working with treated wood. Other fasteners can react to the natural resins in lumber, causing stains over time. Using deck screws helps prevent this reaction thanks to the chemical makeup of their outer layer. These fasteners are ideal for protecting the integrity and appearance of your wood decking.

Projects where wood screws are useful include:

  • Putting together decks
  • Building cabinets or furniture
  • Making assemblies with plywood

True wood screws typically have an unthreaded area of the shank below the head, which allows for a tighter grip since the screw can spin freely in the outer layer of material and impart more tension at the bottom.  Wood screws are self-tapping as well, tapping their own thread into the wood, making them perfect for any woodworking job. 

A type 17 point, also known as an auger point, is a feature on many wood screws which eliminates the need to drill a small pilot hole before inserting your fastener.  This allows the threads to begin cutting without having to displace material to accommodate the shank’s diameter. Power drills, rather than impact drills, are best  to install these fasteners. 

All Points Fasteners has a variety of self-tapping wood screws to choose from. Our reliable customer service representatives know how to assist you in finding what you need. 

Self-Drilling Screws for Wood 

Many people use the terms self-tapping and self-drilling interchangeably, but these labels have different meanings. Self-drilling screws are fasteners with drill bit tips, manufactured mainly for metal to metal applications.  Their threads ALSO make them self-tapping screws since their threads tap their own mating threads into the material.  There are only two type of self drilling screws that are designed to be used with wood.

  • reduced points – very small drill bit tips that drill smaller diameter holes than the outside diameter of the screw.  This allows the larger outside thread to tap in to the wood.  Normal drill bit tips will drill a hole basically the same width as the diameter of the outside thread of the screw, which will allow the screw to pull out of the material since the thread can’t tap.
  • reamer tek screws – wood to metal screws.  These screws have small ‘wings’ above the tip of the self-drilling screw which will ‘ream’ out the wood so that the threads of the screw won’t get bound up by the wood before the screw hits the metal.  Once the screw starts drilling through the metal, the ‘wings’ will break off.

Buy Self-Tapping Wood Screws in the Quantity You Need

Whether you’re looking for self-drilling wood screws or another type of self-tapping screw, All Points Fasteners can help you find what you need with our large selection. We will work diligently to build a relationship with you throughout your experience with us. 

You can fill out our contact form today to get a customized quote for the fasteners you need.  

Wood Screws vs. Sheet Metal Screws

Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screw, Wood Screw or Lag Screw?

When you’re choosing your screws for a project, it’s important to know what you need for the job. That decision isn’t always straightforward, though — you might be surprised which options work with your applications. From stainless self-tapping sheet metal screws to wood screws to lag screws, you have a lot of options. You want to make sure you pick the best tool for the material you’re working with on each specific job. To help you choose, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be using the screws in the project and what they’ll need to do.

At All Points Fasteners, we’re here to help you find the best solutions for your work, so we want to help you source the perfect fastener. Read on for some tips on the differences between screws and how to choose the one that works best with your materials.

Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws

Sheet metal screws are fully threaded and do not have a smooth shank under the head.  Even though they are sheet metal screws, many also use them in wood so they incorrectly call them wood screws or lag screws, both of which have smooth shanks under the head.

Wood Screws

wood screw

Wood screws are specifically designed for non-structural, wood-to-wood fastening. This screw type features threads designed for gripping into wood grains.  They have coarse threads to accommodate wooden textures. What sets wood screws apart is the smooth shank near the head. This space ensures that the screw can pull two wood pieces tightly together.

Lag Screws





Lag screws work best with heavy-duty materials or components that must withstand large loads. They have coarse threads and a tapered point. This screw type also features a square or hex head, so they require a wrench or ratchet to install.

What’s the Difference Between the Screw Types?

Even pros are confused at times about which fastener they are using on a job. They often wonder, what’s the difference between a wood screw vs. a metal screw and which do I need. When you are putting screws into wood, then they have to be wood screws right? Well, possibly…….One good clue to spot the difference between a wood screw vs. sheet metal screw is to check underneath the head of the screws.

If the screw is fully threaded with a sharp point, you most likely have a sheet metal screw.

If the screw only is about 2/3 threaded with a smooth shank underneath the head, you are looking at a wood screw. Typically in the past, wood screws were not case-hardened like sheet metal screws and, unlike sheet metal screws, were plain steel and not plated.

But these days, there are many more options available. Some companies carry case-hardened wood screws and many are now zinc plated which gives them more protection from corrosion. The purpose of the smooth shank underneath the head was so that the two pieces of wood being fastened would draw together once the threads pass through the first piece of wood.

Wood screws offer several benefits like their ability to act as clamps. These screws create torque between pieces of wood to pull them together. With glue, this clamp can be permanent. These screws are generally inexpensive, and there are many styles of wood screws available to suit wood hardness levels and length requirements. Compared to nails, wood screws can withstand more stress.

Then there is the lag screw which is also used in wood. Frequently a customer will ask for a lag screw when, in fact, he is wanting a #14×3 self-tapping Hex Washer Head Sheet Metal Type A screw that is often used in wood.  A true lag screw will not have an attached washer (lip) and will only be about ⅔ threaded with a long smooth shank under the head. Lag screws are self-tapping and can withstand significant stress.

The biggest benefit of self-tapping screws is how easy they are to use. Without the need to create threads in your material or use a nut as you would with a machine screw, you can apply self-tapping screws in seconds. Since these screws form their own mating threads, they also create a durable hold with the material you apply them to.

How to Decide Whether You Need Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws, Wood Screws or Lag Screws

When you’re making the decision, how do you decide which option works best for your project?

A quick way to figure out which one you want is to ask:

1. Does it have a smooth shank underneath the head? and …

2. Does it have an attached washer on the hex head.

As you can tell from the pictures above, lag screws and sheet metal screws look quite different. If you pay attention to these two key features, you can probably figure out which option goes with which type of screw pretty quickly.

While these subtle differences can help you identify each type of screw, they can also help you determine the best applications based on their features.

Other considerations for choosing your screw type depend on the material you’re using and the load strength you need. If you need screws for wood, for example, any of the above options will work, but wood screws are specifically designed to work well with wooden textures, and they may be the best option.

Using lag screws for wood is the better option when you’re working on heavy-duty construction projects. Since wood lag screws are designed to withstand heavy loads, they’re trustworthy for building doorways, railroads, and other large wooden structures.

Self-tapping sheet metal screws are ideal for many materials, including wood and metal.

Work With All Points Fasteners to Get the Right Screws for Your Project

Do you need additional information to make sure you’re using the right tools and supplies for the job? At All Points Fasteners, we’re here to help contractors with HVAC, roofing, and gutter applications across industries. Partner with us for trusted services to help you move forward. Whether you need specialized screws or other supplies for your work, we have you covered with a broad inventory of products. Have questions or concerns? Our helpful, knowledgeable team offers superior customer support to handle all your requirements.

Reach out to us for online chat support addressing product selection and use assistance or any other needs you may have. When you work with us, you can be confident you’ll get trusted resources to help you know exactly what you need for your project. We’re committed to providing live-person assistance and expertise to help you handle your next job. To get more information about our products, feel free to get in touch with us and request a product quote today.

Zip Screws and Tek Screws

Zip Screws and Tek Screws

Sometimes, the terminology connected to screws and fasteners can be confusing, especially when used interchangeably. Characteristics like self-drilling, self-tapping, and self-piercing are essential functions of a screw and often dictate the intended application. At All Points Fasteners, we’re here to offer the best technical advice when it comes to fastening, all while making your product-buying decisions quick and easy.

Self-Tapping Screws

Self-tapping screws tap their own threads into the material they’re entering. Self-tapping is NOT referring to self-drilling screws (although, those are ALSO self-tapping) it is JUST referring to the threads themselves. The tapping action keeps both materials fastened together.

A ZIP screw is a brand name for a screw called a self-piercing, self-tapping or sheet metal screw. ZIP screws taper down to a needlepoint, allowing them to create holes as they enter a substrate. The shank of a ZIP screw has threads entirely from the head to the tip.

On a ZIP screw, both the threads and tips are sharp, allowing the fastener to cut through and penetrate metal surfaces with ease. It can puncture thin sheet metal without any screw prep work and mishaps due to resetting or shaking.  You can use ZIP screws to secure metal objects or attach metal to plastic, wood, rubber or other materials.

With their fast-driving application, ZIP screws can fasten lighter gauges of sheet metal. When using a ZIP screw, you create a hole before any threads reach the material, making for a more secure connection.

All Points Fasteners carries ZIP screws in a wide range of dimensions and specifications.

Self-Drilling Screws

Self-drilling screws are often called Tek® screws, which is the name of the original brand. These fasteners have a drill bit-shaped tip and are standard when securing metal to metal.

TEK® type screws are self-drilling and self-tapping, meaning they have a point with a small carving piece and do not need pre-drilling. This characteristic speeds up the installation process and requires less tools. TEK® type screws are prevalent in HVAC ductwork, electrical applications, solar panels and metal roofing.

All Points Fasteners supplies a wide selection of TEK® type screws in various shank diameters and lengths. The diameter indicates a numeric size that runs from #6 to #14, with #6 being the thinnest and #14 being the thickest. The #8 TEK® type screws and #10 TEK® type screws are the most popular.

TEK® type screws come in many types of head styles. Listed below are two of the most popular, especially among HVAC and electrical contractors:


  • Hex washer head: Features a built-in washer to distribute loads and weights over a large area. This head is perfect for roofing applications and other heavy-duty projects.
  • Modified truss: Features an oversized dome head and a flange to create a larger area under the head for a greater bearing surface.


Choosing All Points Fasteners as Your Zip and Tek Screw Supplier

Whether you’re looking for ZIP screws, TEK® type screws or any other types of fasteners, be sure to contact All Points Fasteners for all your needs. We can provide the perfect tools for the job at affordable prices.