What is a sheet metal screw used for?

No matter the project, chances are you’re going to need screws. As essential fasteners, the correct type of screw must be applied to the suitable material. Screws come in numerous shapes and sizes, each with custom features to match the job. It makes the task you want to achieve more manageable and more efficient.

Most homes have all sorts of screws stashed away in drawers and tool kits, but people don’t always know where to use them. Sound familiar? Welcome to the world of screws!

Metal screws are a must-have for trained professionals and those who want to carry out household repairs themselves. When buying screws, you don’t want to add items in your shopping cart without knowing how these fasteners compare with others.

In this post, to help get your head around the many variations of these complex fixings, we discuss 3 types of metal screws commonly used in Australia.

What are Metal Screws?

Metal screws differ from other kinds of screws in terms of design. Manufacturers make metal screws to secure metal-based materials together or metal to materials such as brick, hard plastics, and wood.

As metal is a tough substance, it requires screws made to allow the tip to pierce the metal with ease. Metal screws tend to be made from steel to ensure performance remains effective in the long term. They must be hard-wearing to withhold metals in a secure position for years to come. Most are fully threaded to offer the firmest grip.

These sturdy fixtures are not only practical for metals. Many choose to use metal screws for several other DIY fittings.

Why Choose Metal Screws?

In the simplest terms, if you want to fasten metal materials safely and securely, you should opt for metal screws. 

While there are many screw variations, you can get a good sense of where to start by looking at the screw name. In many cases, the term tends to match the suitable material, and it's a good sign you’re on the right track. Think metal screws for metal, wood screws for wood, decking screws for decking, and so on.

Metal screws are crafted with a specific function to drive into strong materials and maintain their grip and hold for an extended period. In Australia, standards exist to ensure the screws can withstand a load of heavy metal items without coming loose.

So, whatever metal-based project you have on the go, make it as convenient as possible with metal screws for long-lasting results.

Types of Common Metal Screws?

The world is full of nuts, bolts and screws. It’s no wonder customers feel overwhelmed when shopping in the local store or placing an order online. If you know you want to fasten metal instead of wood or plastic, you’ve got a good starting point. 

To keep it as simple as possible, we've rounded up 3 groups of metal screws that you’re most likely to come across or require during different household tasks.

Machine Screws

Machine screws are also referred to as bolts or stove bolts. Although a popular product, there is no standard type of machine screw. As with most fasteners, they come in various lengths, head types and models. Some variations include:

  • Stainless steel machine screws
  • Zinc machine screws
  • Pan head machine screws
  • Button head machine screws
  • Countersunk head machine screws

You will also come across heads including Torx, flat, round and hex head when looking around. Most models of machine screws are fully threaded, flat-ended (blunt at the end as opposed to pointed), with more delicate threads.

They are typically used for securing pieces of metal together, for instance, within machinery and construction jobs. For this reason, you will mostly see the machine type in more heavy-duty industries, such as engineering and electronics.

Self-drilling Screws

Self-drilling screws are often called tek screws, named after Tek - the original brand for this screw type. The name is used repeatedly today to refer to self-drilling screws, regardless of the model or brand.

These screws are available in various designs, with different lengths depending on the thickness of the material you plan to penetrate.

A self-drilling screw has several uses but is most popular to join two pieces of sheet metal together or attach metal to other materials.

The self-drilling screw has a sharp drill point that can drill a hole and form the mating threats in one job. 

Self-drilling screws are so versatile in terms of what they’re made of, the head types and lengths, that they’re a popular choice among multiple industries. In any application where the fastening of metal to metal or metal to other fabrics is required, a self-drilling screw is likely to get the job done. 

The primary thing to note about self-drilling screws is that they don’t require a pilot hole to be drilled before use. Instead, they drill into the material in just one motion. For this reason, they rate high on the convenience scale for jobs big and small. 

View our products at Trade Warehouse in zinc, galvanized and stainless steel, and heads including bugle, button, countersunk, hex, and pan head.

Self-tapping Screws

Self-tapping screws and sheet metal screws are often used interchangeably. They refer to the same thing, and that is, a screw with a unique characteristic.  

This special fastener is designed to tap its own hole and threads, either through a sharp pointed tip or a flat, blunt tip. They are not only used for metal but wood, brick and more.

Self-tapping screws with a sharp tip can drill their own holes in some softer materials, but firmer surfaces will require a pre-drilled pilot hole prior to application.

Final Words

The above list is not exhaustive but includes 3 screw kinds considered common for use in both homes and the workplace when fastening metal. At Trade Warehouse, we stock a range of fasteners to provide solutions to fix your metal objects, whether steel, zinc or brass.

With peace of mind, you can move on swiftly with your DIY job, knowing that you’ve purchased the perfect product to keep your items secured together. When you have an idea of the best products, you can stock up your toolbox for future jobs you hope to tackle.


What kind of screw do you use for metal?

As metal is more rigid and robust than other materials and surfaces, fastening and securing metal objects requires a particular type of screw. Metal screws come in several shapes, sizes and models, but common metal screw types include machine screws, self-drilling screws and self-tapping screws.

What are metal screws used for?

Metal screws are specially manufactured for use in metal-based materials, although you can use them for other softer surfaces like wood. A metal screw can connect two pieces of metal and secure them in place or attach a sheet of metal to other materials. They are commonly used in home renovations, the construction industry, and engineering.

Can I use sheet metal screws on wood?

These screws are not really interchangeable. In a bind, if you're short of the right available screws, you can use a sheet metal screw on wood. However, the opposite is not the case. Wood screws are unlikely to form a tight enough joint when used on sheet metal – especially if they have a threadless shank.

Are sheet metal screws strong?

Sheet metal screws are made of a strong material. After all, they must be able to drive into sheet metal without breaking. You can find sheet metal screws in carbon steel.