7 Tips for Using a Hammer Drill to Drill through Concrete

A man uses a drill.

A hammer drill is a type of rotary drilling tool that is used for drilling through hard and brittle surfaces like concrete and tile. There are a number of tips and tricks that you can use in order to make this drilling process faster and easier. Some of these tips are listed below.


Use the right amount of pressure when using a hammer drill or rotary hammer. Using too much pressure when drilling with a hammer drill can damage the motor of the drill, especially if you aren’t using a heavy duty professional model. Applying too much pressure will also damage the tip of the drill bit.

Control Heat and Dust

Drilling into tile and concrete can create large clouds of abrasive and sometimes unhealthy dust. Adding some water to your work during the drilling process will prevent the formation of dust and will also cool the flutes of your bit while drilling, extending the life of your drill bit.

Clear Out Flutes Occasionally

When drilling through deeper materials, you need to clear the drill bit flutes and the hole of dust occasionally. This can be accomplished simply by gently moving the bit up and down once or twice every 30 seconds or so of drilling.

Use of Correct Bits

When drilling through hard or brittle substances like concrete or tile, special masonry bits are used. This type of bit has a carbide tip shaped like a diamond at the tip. Drill bits designed for other types of surfaces, such as wood and metal, cut by shaving small slices of the material being drilled, while a masonry bit actually breaks the surface of the material being drilled, and the flutes carry the material away. If you try and use a wood or metal drill bit in concrete or tile, you won’t drill very deep before burning out the tip of the bit and possibly the drill motor.

Prevent Jams

Every now and then you’re going to hit something besides just concrete when drilling. Especially if you’re drilling through either aggregate concrete or reinforced concrete. Even a brand new masonry drill bit isn’t going to be able to drill through the rocks of aggregate or the rebar of reinforced concrete. When your bit hits something it can’t drill through, you either need to try and drill elsewhere, or break through the object causing the jam. This can normally be accomplished by inserting a concrete nail in your hole and hitting it a few times, hard, with a hammer.

Unplug When Changing Bits

As with other power tools, when changing bits in your hammer drill or rotary hammer, always be sure to disconnect the tool from power prior to changing bits in order to prevent accidents caused by inadvertently hitting the power switch while changing the bit.

Personal Protective Equipment

Whenever using power tools, protecting your health and safety is an important consideration. You should always wear safety glasses that meet or exceed the requirements for Z87.1 certification by the American National Standards Institute, otherwise known as ANSI.