When drilling into concrete, you should be using either a hammer or a rotary hammer drill due to its dense and hard properties.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to either of these, an impact driver can be used instead to drill small holes into concrete!
However, since it isn’t the recommended tool for the job, you will need to proceed with caution when drilling into concrete with an impact driver.
This article provides a step-by-step process of all the things you will have to consider before and during using your impact driver for this purpose. This will include:
- Choosing the correct drill bit
- How to use multiple drill bits to optimize the job
- Important things to remember and the correct technique to use.
We will also look at the other drill options on the market that are more suitable for use with concrete and other harder materials. Let’s get into it!
How to Use an Impact Driver to Drill Concrete
In this section, we’ll detail the steps that you need to take when using an impact driver to drill concrete!
This will include vital aspects from choosing the correct drill bit to increasing the size of the drill bit incrementally as you go deeper.
Step 1: Choose the correct drill bit
Considering your standard impact driver is not optimized for drilling holes through concrete, you are going to need to ensure that you have some quality masonry drill bits that are compatible with your impact driver.
When drilling into concrete, carbide-tipped masonry bits are going to be your best bet.
Tungsten Carbide (Carbide for short) is an incredibly strong material that is remarkably heat resistant.
A masonry drill bit with a carbide tip (or flute) will clear the way through concrete, brick, or mortar, allowing the shaft to spin freely.
There are two different types of flutes on the market: 2-flute and 4-flute. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to find a 4-flute concrete drill bit for an impact driver. In this case, a 2-flute carbide masonry drill bit will suffice.
Step 2: Make a mark at the center of the hole and start using your smallest drill bit
When using an impact driver to drill into concrete, it is the general consensus that anything bigger than a 3/8″ hole will be very difficult to achieve.
Regardless of the hole size you wish to make, it is recommended that you begin with your smallest drill bit as this will make it easier for the next drill bit sizes to drill into the material.
Step 3: Increase the size of your drill bit incrementally
Once you have made the first hole, move up to the next biggest drill bit in 1/8″ increments.
Step 4: Continue drilling to the desired depth
As the drill bit diameter increases, you will be able to drill deeper. Always ensure you keep your impact driver steady and square with the material you are cutting into in order to maximize efficiency.
Step 5: Increase drill bits by one-eighth of an inch at a time until you have the desired depth and diameter
Much like Step 3, increase your drill bit diameter incrementally. Eventually, you should be able to reach your desired depth and diameter!
Important to remember:
- If you feel any stress or extra resistance, stop drilling immediately and remove the impact driver.
Insert a nail into the hole, and break up the concrete residue inside as best you can with a hammer. You may need to keep doing this throughout the process
- Keeping your impact driver at a steady pace is better than drilling as fast as it will allow you when it comes to working with concrete! This will keep the temperature of the bit lower and extend its lifespan
- Be realistic. While you can get away with using an impact driver for smaller holes every once in a while, you will need to use a different type of drill if you are looking to drill big holes into tough concrete.
Types Of Concrete Drill Bits Shanks
The shank is the base of the drill bit which the chuck of the impact driver clamps around.
In order to work out what type of shank your drill bits will need to have, you will need to make sure you know what type of chuck system your impact driver uses. Common types of drill bit shanks include the hex shank and smooth shank.
Best Impact Drill for Concrete
Want to get your hands on the best impact drill out there, but not sure where to look?
We’ve listed three options below that are sure to make your concrete drilling as easy as one, two, three!
Since 1924, Milwaukee has been the best choice for professional construction users.
That’s why this Fuel Surge DB 303552 won’t disappoint! This lightweight impact drill comes with two lithium-ion batteries, and can dish out a maximum power of 800 watts.
A driver that utilizes hydraulics and yet fits snugly right in the palm of your hands? You couldn’t ask for anything better.
When it comes to power tools, DEWALT is the golden standard. So if you’re looking for a cordless impact driver that’s more than just passable, go for the DEWALT 20V MAX!
The kit comes with a brushless drill, a ¼” cordless impact driver, a battery pack, and a contractor bag to fit everything in nicely.
And with its ergonomic grip and built-in LED light, there’s virtually no situation that will stymie this impact driver.
Another great cordless option comes from PORTER-CABLE with their 20V MAX Impact Driver!
This bulky behemoth runs on lithium-ion batteries and can deliver up to 2,700 RPM. That’s not to mention an ergonomic design that’s lightweight and compact, making it one of the best choices if you’re on the go.
The Difference Between Impact Drivers and Hammer Drills
The main difference between impact drivers and hammer drills is the internal mechanism that drives their output shaft.
The internal mechanism of impact drivers engages and disengages quickly due to the impact being delivered in a rotational direction – increasing torque and making them the ideal tool for tightening and loosening screws and bolts (when the direction is able to be changed).
Hammer drills deliver impact forward and back using a pair of discs with jagged teeth that slip and lock into place as the drill is powered and one of the discs rotates.
This results in hammer drills physically hammering into materials – making them optimized for drilling into tough materials such as concrete.
What’s the Difference Between a Rotary Hammer and a Hammer Drill?
Rotary hammer drills offer an even better option for drilling holes in materials such as concrete!
Whereas the regular hammer drill uses a two-disc mechanism to deliver its hammering motion, rotary hammer drills use a combination of pistons and air pressure to deliver a considerably more powerful hammering motion.
This more robust internal mechanism means that rotary hammer drills are far heavier than hammer drills – usually about twice the weight of the heaviest models on the market.
Considering the power needed to generate a rotary hammer drill’s internal mechanism, cordless models are hard to come by; expect to be plugged into a power source when using this type of drill!
Impact drivers can be used to drill holes into concrete; however, they are definitely not the most efficient tool you can use to do so.
We mentioned that if you find yourself with limited options other than an impact driver, it is essential you use the right type of drill bit. A carbide-tipped masonry drill bit really is the only drill bit you should be considering!
If you are looking to achieve bigger holes, we’ve also discussed other power tools such as hammer and rotary-hammer drills that are realistically far better suited for the job.
Can I Drill With an Impact Driver?
It is definitely not the best tool for the job. However, if you use the correct drill bit (a carbide-tipped masonry drill bit) and work slowly and carefully, you will be able to use an impact driver to drill small holes into concrete.
What Kind of Hammer Drill Do I Need for Concrete?
Both a regular hammer drill and a rotary hammer drill are designed for use with hard materials such as concrete.
How Many Volts Does It Take to Drill into Concrete?
A 12v drill is the minimum recommended power drill to use when drilling into concrete.
How Do You Drill into Concrete Without Cracking It?
Don’t use a lot of pressure – let your hammer drill do the work! Additionally, only drill as deep as necessary.