What types of screwdriver heads do you need for your latest DIY project? Nowadays there are a host of head types, but it will depend very much on what the project is and the screws being used.
Most DIY projects will need more than one screwdriver head type. So it's a good idea to get a mixed screwdriver set and then purchase specialist screwdrivers when you need them.
Alternatively, the best cordless drills come with sets of the popular screwdriver head types, typically, slotted, Philips, Pozi, Hex and Torz. This means you’ll be ready for most DIY projects with the added bonus of getting the job done in half the time.
Types of Screwdriver Heads: What Are They and What Do They Do
Are you revamping an old wooden interior door, for instance? There's a good chance that you'll find flat head or slotted screws here. That means you will need a slotted screwdriver head. Simply put, no other head type will do. Whatever the screw you will need the right screw head type for an effective working partnership.
Here we take a look at the most popular and commonly used screwdriver heads and tell you what DIY jobs they're good for and the pros and cons of each type.
1. Flat/Slotted Screwdriver Head
The king of screwdriver head types, the flat or slotted has been around for years. It fits neatly into a straight slot on the top of a screw. They come in a host of sizes from tiny to large. For most DIY projects a 5.5mm is good for smaller screws, while 8mm is a more general purpose size. Larger slotted screwdriver head sizes are available and are ideal for opening tins of paint.
They have a whole host of purposes. Slotted screws are often found in door hinges on internal doors, door handles, more intricate woodworking, plugs and electrical sockets. Perfectionists like to line up the slots i.e. vertical or horizontal to create a neat finish to an item.
They are not the strongest style of screwdriver head type. Pressure needs to be applied evenly otherwise the screwdriver can slip out and scratch or mark whatever you are working on. Or more painfully dig into your hand.
This will also break the edges of the slot making it less effective, and in some cases make it impossible to get the screw out.
2. Phillips Screwdriver Head
Phillips screwdrivers are one of the most common types of screwdriver head in use today. They are cross-shaped with recesses all around to create a tight fit on a Philips screw. They come in sizes such as PH0, PH1, PH2 — with PH2 being a good all-round choice.
Phillips screws are found on a wide variety of DIY projects from hanging doors, putting up shelves through to building a partition wall. They are versatile and their shape allows you to apply more torque getting a tight fit without messing up the thread.
They can slip out of a screw head easily, especially when used with a cordless screwdriver, which causes damage to the bit. Also it doesn’t always get a tight fit as you might with a handheld screwdriver.
3. Hex Screwdriver Head
Hex is short for hexagon which is the shape of the screw head. It is all known as Allen as it is often used with an Allen key. The six sided shape allows for a tight fit and is often found when building furniture.
They come in a variety of sizes and the bits are typically used with cordless drills, though you can buy handheld screwdrivers to fit the bit.
They are easy to use and are great for medium torque loads such as putting beds and furniture together. The six sides make them feel secure and help stop slippage.
When high torque is needed the hex type can strip out the screw head making it useless. This can be caused by hex bits being available in SAE (inches) and metric sizes along with screw heads. Mixing a SAE head with a metric screw might feel like a good fit but isn’t quite right.
4. Pozi Screwdriver Head
This head type is very similar to the Phillips. Created by the same people who brought the Phillips screwdriver to the masses, it is effectively Phillips+. The Pozidriv uses a modified version of the crosshead for better engagement with a screw. You can identify a Pozidriv screw by the four small indentations in between the main cross.
The modified screwhead head gives better grip than a Phillips head. This brings with it the added bonus of higher torque and less chance of the head slipping out of the screw head. This can make it ideal for jobs like installing decking.
Pozi screws look very similar to Phillips screws and a Phillips screwdriver head will fit into a Pozi screw but without the benefits. It will round off the recess making the screw useless.
5. Torz Screwdriver Head
The Torx head design has six points and is commonly referred to as Star bits. The extra fins are used to reduce slippage and give plenty of torque when screwing in, but also good for taking a screw out.
While still relatively uncommon they are typically used for installing floorboards, decking, timber cladding and similar.
The design helps reduce slippage and lessens the chances of the screw head being damaged, meaning they will have a longer shelf life and are not adverse to reuse.
Currently uncommon, so you will need to make sure that you have the right match for head type and screw. Typically a little more expensive than more common types.
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Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.