Fastener Types

Table of Contents:


Types of Fasteners


Fasteners play a critical role in the construction of all sorts of everyday objects. If you’ve done any DIY projects, you’ve likely used fasteners to help get the job done. At All Points Fasteners, we’re passionate about the role quality fasteners can play for handy homeowners and professionals alike. Let’s take a moment to define fasteners and overview some of the different types, as well as the various uses for them.

What Is a Fastener?

Let’s start by defining what a fastener is. The term fasteners encompasses a fairly broad category of tools, such as screws, nuts and bolts, that share a common purpose: to mechanically hold objects together. Of course, things like glue can fulfill this function, but glue is not a type of fastener. Therefore, we need to add to our definition. Hardware fasteners mechanically hold objects together.

Typically, fasteners form a non-permanent joint. In other words, when you use a fastener to connect two components, you can remove it, and the separate pieces should come apart without suffering any damage. The same wouldn’t be the case with a welded joint, for instance. The one exception to this rule are rivets, which fall under the category of fasteners, but create permanent joints.

Though most fasteners form a non-permanent joint, this does not mean you only use fasteners when you want to be able to take something apart, and it doesn’t mean the joint is weak by any means. Fasteners can reliably hold together objects that can experience a great degree of stress. That means they’re a great choice for permanent and non-permanent joints alike, providing versatility for the type of project you want to use them for.

Different Types of Fasteners

Types of Fasteners

Mechanical fasteners come in many forms, including screws, nails, nuts, bolts, washers, anchors and rivets. Each of these different types of fasteners is a category unto itself, with many types to choose from. If you’ve ever been in a fastener aisle at a hardware store, you know how many different types of fasteners are out there. Let’s look at each of these common examples of fasteners and break them down a bit further.

1. Screws

For many people, when they think of fasteners, screws are the first thing to come to mind. Screw fasteners are one of the most versatile types of fasteners out there. Their threaded shafts give them durable holding power, and unlike a bolt, they don’t require anything to hold them in place. Typically, you use a drill to make a pilot hole in a material and then use a screwdriver to drive the screw in place. Screws come in a wide variety of types and sizes. Some of the most common types of screws include:

  • Wood screws have coarse threads and a tapered head.
  • Deck screws are similar to wood screws, but include self-tapping designs and corrosion resistance for outdoor applications.
  • Drywall screws feature a self-tapping head that can countersink without causing damage to drywall.
  • Sheet metal screws have sharper threads for connecting metal to other materials.
  • Machine screws have a uniform thickness and don’t taper off at the bottom.
  • Masonry screws have a flat tip and typically feature a hex-head design.
  • MDF screws can self-tap without splitting the material.

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2. Nails

Nails have been used since ancient times, and they are still an everyday household item. You can easily spot the difference between a screw and a nail because a nail doesn’t have threading. While a nail doesn’t provide the same holding power a screw does, it has greater shear strength, making it the better choice for some applications.

Many types of nails take their names from their applications, which can make it a snap to find the right variety of nail for a job. They typically have specific characteristics designed for working with the materials or application at hand.

Some common kinds of nails include the following:

  • Common nails have a thicker shank for greater holding power for many different applications, but the thick head will be visible on most projects.
  • Box nails offer easier driving with a steel construction and diamond-point tip.
  • Brad nails can easily blend into wood trim.
  • Finishing nails are for more detailed work and have a small, flat head designed to blend in with project finishes, such as those on crown molding.
  • Drywall nails are designed for easy concealment and reduced slippage.
  • Flooring nails are designed for use with various flooring materials.
  • Framing nails can include a variety of styles, often designed for flush installation and easy concealment.
  • Roofing nails have a wide head and are often corrosion-resistant.

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3. Bolts, Nuts and Washers

Nuts and bolts are another common type of fastener. These two pieces work in tandem to hold components together. You insert the bolt through the two parts you want to join, then fasten it in place with a nut on the end. Here are some of the most common types of bolts you’ll use:

  • Carriage bolts have domed or countersunk heads with a square component under the heat to keep the bolt from moving while tightening the nut.
  • Flange bolts include a circular flange beneath the head for distributing loads evenly.
  • Plow bolts are for heavy-duty applications, such as heavy equipment, with non-protruding heads.
  • Hex-head bolts are six-sided with machine threads.
  • Square-head bolts have square heads, offering an easier grip for wrenches.
  • Allen bolts have a hexagonal socket for use with Allen wrenches.

Nuts and bolts are a common type of fastener

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Below are some of the most popular types of nuts and their designs:

  • Coupling nuts are hex-shaped and join two male threads together.
  • Flange nuts have a wide, serrated flange on one end that serves a similar function as a washer but without any added movement.
  • Hex nuts are the most common variety, featuring a hex shape and internal threads.
  • Lock nuts include designs to prevent loosening due to vibrations.
  • Slotted nuts have sections cut out to create a locking mechanism with the help of a cotter ping.
  • Square nuts feature a square shape for greater surface area.
  • Wheel nuts are designed for securing wheels onto vehicles.

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Nuts and bolts can function on their own, but sometimes, you’ll want to add a washer in between. A washer is a flat disc with an opening in the center. This little piece can distribute the fastener’s load more evenly across the surface of the material. Some types of washers are:

  • Beveled washers add stability when attaching unparallel surfaces.
  • Flat washers are round and thin.
  • Lock washers use various mechanisms to prevent nuts, screws and bolts from vibrating loose.
  • Structural washers are thicker and used in heavy-duty applications.


4. Anchors

Anchors get their name because they serve a similar function to a boat’s anchor, which embeds itself in the seabed to keep a ship from moving. Generally, people use these fasteners to connect something to a material like drywall or concrete. They embed themselves in the material and hold the object you’re affixing in place. Some common types of anchors include:

  • Internally threaded anchors
  • Externally threaded anchors
  • Masonry screw and pin anchors
  • Screw anchors
  • Hollow wall anchors
  • Sleeve anchors
  • Drive anchors

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5. Rivets

A rivet creates a permanent joint between two objects. They consist of a cylindrical shaft with a head on one end and a tail on the other. You use a unique tool to expand the tail, so the rivet stays in place. Rivets are remarkably durable, compared to other types of fasteners. Some common types of rivets include:

  • Blind rivets
  • Semi-tubular rivets
  • Solid rivets
  • Split rivets
  • Drive rivets

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Different Uses for Fasteners

What are fasteners used for? That question is somewhat tricky to answer, because fasteners have nearly limitless applications. Homeowners are likely to use fasteners for many DIY projects and basic household tasks. Workers in various industries can use industrial fasteners for all sorts of projects. If you need to attach two components, a fastener is likely the way you’ll do so. Here are some examples of common fastener uses.

  • Vehicle assembly
  • Picture hanging
  • Building and construction
  • Furniture assembly
  • Cabinet installation
  • Electronics manufacturing

The list could go on and on. Look around your home or business, and you’ll see fasteners holding countless objects together.


Quality Fasteners From the Fastener Experts

At All Points Fasteners, we carry a diverse inventory of high-quality fasteners, including uncommon fasteners you may not find at your local hardware store. Our experts can give you the advice and guidance you need to find the right fastener for any job. Our company is American-owned and -operated, so you can expect a quick turnaround on your orders. We always go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service, so you can trust us to help you get the job done. Browse through our inventory online and use our live chat feature to ask any questions you have.

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Head Screw Lady Since 1986! Specializing in breaking down the language barrier between suppliers and end users. During her 35 years working in the fastener industry, MaryLouise has worked directly with end users, contractor’s, OEM’S and DIY, as well working within the import industry, working with fastener manufacturers and distributors. This has given her the unique perspective of having the technical knowledge needed to perform in the fastener world but also be familiar with the needs of end users who don’t necessarily know the fastener jargon or applications to know exactly what they need for their jobs.