How to Properly Drill Into Concrete

Some concrete DIY advice for anyone drilling into concrete for the first time

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated June 13, 2022
A woman in a home with concrete wall
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images


Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

1 hour



You might need a thing or two

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What you'll need:


  • Hammer
  • Hammer drill
  • Carbide masonry bits
  • Ruler/measuring tape
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Ear protection mask
  • Broom/vacuum


  • Masking tape
  • Paint crayon or lumber marker

Don't let a little concrete cause you to hit the wall on a home project. Learning how to drill into concrete can help you complete a host of new DIY tasks. If you have concrete walls, for instance, installing new fixtures will take a bit more effort, but can pay off in some beautiful new home decor. Drilling into concrete can seem like a challenge, but the right tools and a little prep will make the job totally doable. 

Can You Drill into Concrete? 

Drilling into concrete isn't a walk in the park, but you can do it! A special hammer drill will make the job much easier, but you can still get the job done with a regular old drill, a masonry bit, plus some extra elbow grease and a little more patience. 

Prepping to Drill into Concrete

For the easiest go of it, you’ll want to rent or buy a masonry drill capable of safely drilling into a concrete slab, drilling into a concrete floor, or drilling into a cinder block. Hammer drills are ideal drills for concrete because they provide stability and efficiency for this type of project.

You’ll also want to be sure you know what you’re doing before drilling into concrete. Only tackle this DIY if you’re confident you can do so safely and if you have experience using a drill.

4 Steps to Drill a Hole into Concrete

  1. Mark and Measure Your Drilling Spot

    Start by measuring out the exact spot where you'll be drilling in your concrete. Do your homework ahead of time to ensure that there's nothing of infrastructural importance behind the concrete that will be disturbed by drilling, including things like electrical work, ductwork, and pipes.

    Not sure what's on the other side? Have a local masonry expert come out to confirm that you're all clear. Mark the drilling spot with a paint crayon or lumber marker to ensure it doesn't smudge away. You’ll also want to get your safety gear on before you begin preparing to drill.

  2. Get Your Drill Ready

    For this step, you want to set the depth stop on your drill to be 1/4-inch longer than the depth of your soon-to-be hole. If you're using an older drill that doesn't have a built-in depth guide, use the hack of wrapping a small sliver of masking tape around your bit at the intended depth mark. You're now ready to fit your masonry bit to the hammer drill.

  3. Create a Guide Hole

    Most concrete screws that you buy at the store will provide the necessary drill bit in the packaging. You will need to purchase the corresponding bit if it's not included with your purchase. It's actually a good idea to purchase some extra ones simply because they can wear out quickly when you drill holes in concrete.

    Get in a stable position to begin drilling. The drill should always remain in the perpendicular position while you drill. While gripping the drill with one hand, place the drill tip on the drill mark you made with your marker.

    Begin with your drill at the lowest possible speed. You can drill forward using very steady, light pressure without any force. You want to drill no deeper than 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch down at this point. Stop the drill once you get there. Finally, clear out any dust you've created that is obscuring the new hole.

  4. Drill a Hole

    A closeup of a drill drilling into a concrete wall
    Photo: Jag_cz/Adobe Stock

    If you're satisfied with the guide you’ve created, put the drill in the pilot hole. While you'll want to begin pushing forward with consistent light pressure once you start the drill, you can increase the speed from slow to medium at this point. Pulling the drill out periodically can help clear concrete debris from the hole.

What to Do If You Encounter an Obstruction While Drilling

Stop the drill if you feel an obstruction. Do not try to "power through" the obstruction because applying too much pressure can break your drill. You'll want to insert a masonry nail to allow for the nail tip to touch the blockage. Next, tap the nail with a hammer until the obstruction is broken up. Do this gently enough to avoid driving the nail in fully. Finally, you can retrieve the nail to return to drilling.

DIY Concrete Drilling vs. Hiring a Pro

The average hourly cost for a masonry expert around the country is $40 to $110. While this is a relatively inexpensive project to tackle on your own, it's important to consider your comfort level when it comes to driving a high-powered drill into a hard surface. Concrete provides a lot of pushback, so you need to be strong enough to apply pressure to get a “bite” with your drill. If not, you could end up scarring or cracking the concrete, which definitely won’t look nice.

Difference Between Drilling into Concrete Walls, Slabs, and Cinder Blocks

So many surfaces in your home can be made of concrete, including walls, slabs, and cinder blocks. You’ll need to tackle each differently.

Concrete Walls

The risk you run drilling into reinforced poured concrete walls is hitting the rebar, or steel reinforcing rod. Cutting through rebar is not advisable, even if you have the right tools. Rebar spacing is about 12 inches, so if you've just started drilling and find you're hitting the rebar, it's best to move over a couple of inches to avoid it altogether. Poured and reinforced concrete is tough, so a hammer drill will make the job go much faster. 

Cinder Block

If you have cinder block walls, you're in luck. Cinder blocks are much easier to drill through than poured concrete. A regular drill with a concrete or masonry bit should do the trick. Just take your time and be sure not to overheat your bit. 

Concrete Slabs

If you need to drill cores from a concrete floor to install posts or anything wider than 2 inches, it's best to hire a masonry pro or a local handyperson. For less than 2 inches, you can use a regular drill with a core bit. Do not use a hammer drill, or if you do, use rotate mode only since core bits are not designed for hammering.  

Additional Questions

Can you use a regular drill to drill into concrete?

Yes, it is possible to drill into concrete with nothing more than a regular drill. However, it will take more time and more effort on your part. You also need to watch out for overheating and wearing out the drill bit. 

Do you need a special drill bit for concrete?

So-called masonry bits made of tungsten carbide are the ideal choice for concrete drilling. 

Should I use water when drilling concrete?

You don’t necessarily need to spray water on the concrete while drilling, but it can help keep dust from clogging the hole and prevent your drill bit from overheating and wearing out. 

Can you screw directly into concrete?

Yes and no. You can use special concrete screws made of tough alloys, but you’ll need to drill a “pilot hole” first.

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