ZIP screw is the brand name for a type of screw that’s also called a sheet metal screw, self-tapping or self-piercing screw. ZIP screws taper down to a sharp point that allows them to create their own holes as you drive them into a substrate, as long as the material isn’t too hard. Unlike other screws, like wooden rivets, a ZIP screw’s shank is threaded from tip to head.
On a ZIP screw, both tips and threads are sharp, enabling the screw to penetrate and cut through metal surfaces with ease. It can punch through thin gauge sheet metal without the need for any screw prep work and without any mishaps due to shaking or resetting. You can use ZIP screws for tightening metal objects together or attaching metal to wood, plastic, rubber or other materials.
ZIP screws are available in various head, slot and point types, making them useful for a variety of project types. For example, ZIP screws come in both Phillips and Hex. With a range of tips and thread patterns available, you can find one that’s perfect for your siding or gutter project. Each type of screw has three numbers that represent the diameter, length and thread count. Diameter is also known as the shank of the screw, not including the threads. The higher the number, the thicker the shank will be.
With a better understanding of what a ZIP screw is, continue reading to learn about its features, the differences between a ZIP and TEK® screw and what projects benefit from these types of screws.
ZIP screws — also known as self-tapping or self-piercing screws — have a distinctive thread that’s designed through a heating process. Made of stainless steel, the screw tapers to a sharp point fine enough to pierce metal surfaces. Because these screws have these properties, you won’t have to worry about it slanting or walking across your sheet of metal.
One single thread is responsible for the ZIP screw’s penetrating power without sacrificing the strength of its point. When the initial thread cuts through the material, the second thread formed to the tip of the point becomes engaged and helps drill the screw in faster.
With its unique fast-driving features, the ZIP screw can fasten heavier forms of sheet metal. Using a ZIP screw offers a more significant driving point than the depth of the material you are working with. Therefore, it creates a hole before any threads come in contact with the material. It makes for a sturdier result, and the screw won’t snap.
Other characteristics of a ZIP screw includes threads covering the whole length of the screw from tip to head. Categorized as a self-tapping product, it taps its own hole. While not all self-tapping screws have a sharp point, ZIP screws do, and they don’t require you to pre-drill any holes. It’s a versatile fastener that can cut into metal, plastic or wood using its thread.
Since ZIP screws are self-tapping, they have two categories — self-cutters and thread forming. Self-cutting, self-tapping screws remove material as you screw through the surface you’re working with. However, thread-forming self-tapping screws displace the material. Self-tapping screws create their own threads when turning and don’t require matching female threads like nuts and bolts.
The easiest way to remember what a ZIP or self-tapping screw looks like is to think of a pencil tip.
To choose the right screw for your project, you’ll need to know the difference between a ZIP and a TEK ®screw. While you can use both for metal surfaces or connecting metal to other materials such as plastic and wood, there are a few prominent differences. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to ZIP vs. TEK® screws.
A TEK ®screw is a common brand name for a self-drilling screw. TEK® screws have drill bit tips as opposed to sharp points. They do not have threads that reach from tip to point. Instead, the threads of a TEK® screw begin at the head and end before the tip where you will see more of a drill bit end. The screws can create a hole and thread in one action. The difference between a ZIP and TEK® screw is in the function of its points.
Like a ZIP screw, it can drill its own hole, which results in thread engagement and a tight fit to a surface. TEK® screws produce an optimum hole size and are ideal for steel and aluminum surfaces. It has one-operation fastening that indicates no alignment problems and eliminates the need for auxiliary fastening equipment. You can characterize it as a fine or coarse thread, while you can’t do the same for self-tappers.
Made of sturdy, high-quality, heat-treated steel, TEK ®screws are suitable replacements for fastening operations using nuts and bolts, rivets, spot welds or adhesives. They use a Phillip’s head, Hex drive or swatting head with common sizes being #2, #3, #4 and #5. Sizes #2 and #3 are the most common, while sizes #4 and #5 are for thicker metal materials.
The most common use of ZIP screws is to fasten two pieces of metal together, but you can also secure metal to other surfaces such as plastic, wood and rubber. The shank of the screw has threads from the head to tip as well as a flat, rounded head. Because the tips and threads are so sharp, the screw can cut through hard metal surfaces. You can find ZIP screws in different point, slot and head versions too.
Stainless steel ZIP screws offer an exclusive thread design created by a heat process. The heating procedure allows the screw to reach a sharp, piercing point that can penetrate metal surfaces without the screw slanting or walking. If the points weren’t as sharp, it could cause the material to shift and spin away from the screw, damaging your project. Even though the end comes to a point, it doesn’t sacrifice any strength.
As you are screwing through metal, a single thread is the cause of the screw’s piercing power. Because the threads are formed down to the tip of the point, the initial thread begins cutting while the second thread above it engages and pulls the rest of the screw to form a tight finish.
With the ZIP screw’s distinctive features, you can drill in the screw faster thanks to its tough driving capabilities. You now will have a superior capacity for fastening denser gauges of sheet metal as well as curved surfaces for ductwork and layered sheet metal. You won’t have to reset with a ZIP screw because it has quick pull-through properties.
It doesn’t matter if you call a ZIP screw a self-tapping, self-piercing or sheet metal screw, they all mean the product doesn’t require you to pre-drill a hole in most cases. When you use a ZIP screw, it drills a hole on its own which can save you the hassle of creating a hole ahead of time and is perfect for thinner materials.
While ZIP screws have many potential uses, the most common projects to use them for are gutters, roofing, siding and HVAC installations and fabrication. You can find ZIP screws helpful when using thin material or when you don’t have rear access to install a nut. ZIP screws are also perfect for jobs that require you to disassemble your work later. Self-tapping screws are for one or two-layered thin gauge sheet metal. You can also use the fasteners for affixing aluminum sheets to each other or to plastic, wood, rubber and various materials.
Here are the most common projects that use ZIP screws:
1. Installing Gutters and Roofing
Corrosion can cause significant problems in your gutter and roofing material when snow, rain and high humidity levels are present. When your screws rust all the way through, parts can come loose. But when you use self-tapping screws like ZIP screws from All Points Fasteners, you can be sure they’ll be resistant to delamination and corrosion.
Depending on the supplies you use to install gutters, we recommend using #10 and #12 diameter ZIP screws as well as various lengths for different gutter and roofing jobs. These products provide consistent quality for long-term use. When you rely on sharp tips for consistent and efficient piercing and larger diameters, ZIP screws for gutters can get the job done. Ceramic coatings help prevent corrosion, and the tip-to-head threads provide a consistent bite as you screw.
2. Securing Siding
The siding of a home may need replacement due to wear and tear from weather and time, or a homeowner may be looking for an updated look. It’s vital to drive your ZIP screws straight instead of at an angle to ensure proper installation.
Like many projects, siding work requires sharp tips to penetrate through the metal siding and apply it to a home. The threads help you make a quick and secure incision without having your siding slide or move during the process. To produce a seamless finish, you can opt to choose different ZIP screw heads like a flat or oval.
3. Fabricating Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning — HVAC
Installing or fabricating HVAC work depends on the penetrating technology of ZIP screws to create a quick and smooth finish. You can use ZIP screws for ducts, clips and brackets. While some people use duct tape to fabricate ductwork, self-tapping screws are of a higher quality. Inserting the sheet metal ZIP screws through the metal ducts where the ends come together will result in a secure piece of ductwork.
Other applications you can use ZIP screws for include:
Industrial workers typically use ceramic-coated, self-piercing ZIP screws. They are fit for various kinds of projects and applications as the ceramic and other coatings can protect your work from consistent rain and moisture by minimizing rustworkmanship..
Before you begin drilling into your project, you will want to prepare and drill the right way to avoid any hazards. Use protective eyewear such as safety glasses or a protective mask to prevent metal shavings from hitting your eye. You may be a professional working in the roofing, siding or HVAC industry with years of experience, but it’s imperative to remain safe.
You should also drill with caution when applying a ZIP screw to your specific application. If you rush the process, press too hard or aren’t careful with proper positioning, you could ruin the project or injure yourself. Once you fasten each screw, make sure to clear the drill bit of metal shavings before driving another ZIP screw. It’s best to start each time with a clean area free of debris.
Choosing the right self-tapping screw, along with using the right power drill and drill bit, are other vital considerations. The best screw for your application can mean all the difference in the binding of materials whether you are using metal, plastic or wood. Selecting the appropriate screw includes the consideration of size, thread count and length. Sizes can range from zero to 24, which defines the head and shaft diameter, not the ZIP screw’s length. You will need at least half of the length of the fastener to embed into the material.
Another crucial consideration for using ZIP screws properly involves choosing the right material. ZIP screws are available in various materials to suit different environments such as stainless steel and copper. While standard screws may be the most economical, they can also discolor with rust or corrosion, while coated ZIP screws resist corrosion.
Another important feature is the style of the head. A pan-style head sits above the surface, while an oval head creates a more finished appearance. Flat heads are flush with the surface of your project, while Hex heads have broader surfaces. Like all screws, overtightening can strip the heads.
Hex screws are known for their stability and strength. When considering the height of a Hex head, the higher the head, the more stable it will be. These components have a broad surface which reduces the tension placed on the screw. Hex ZIP screws are less likely to strip. Hex heads prevent slipping and wobbling as they help stabilize the screw and the sheet metal.
For gutter installations, a #8 or #10 HWH screw is ideal. A #10 has close threads and a thick shaft to slow the rotation of the ZIP screw for a more controlled speed. A #8 self-tapping screw has closer threads and a thinner shaft. Each ZIP screw has specific properties for the job at hand, so make sure to understand your requirements and what to expect from each type.
ZIP screws for sale at All Points Fasteners are quality parts made for any job including those in the HVAC, gutter, roofing, sheet metal and construction industries. We provide all of our industrial contractors with services that surpass their expectations. We can help you choose the right screw for your particular job, and our experts go out of the way to find you information and product data to help you stay productive.
All Points specializes in ceramic, copper and stainless steel self-piercing ZIP screws and TEK® screws. If you don’t see what you are looking for, we can often find your company uncommon fasteners. We test our ceramic screws with more than 500 hours of salt spray to prevent corrosion and rust. We also strive for long-term relationships with every client to give you continued support and the products you require.
We even deliver free samples before you place an order, so you get a feel for how our products perform. If you’re looking for better merchandise and pricing, we have you covered and will ensure your fasteners arrive promptly.
Contact All Points Fasteners to learn more about ZIP screws or speak with a representative so we can help you determine what you need for your specific project. Get a free quote today or order free samples.