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I'm not experienced, and I have poor tools, but it seems like I'm having more trouble than I should have. The last attempt was off-level despite an extra 30 minutes of working with a laser level; I know how to fix that. But each and every time I struggle getting screws into the wall.

Every time I have tried to hang curtains it has been a huge ordeal. If the curtain rod comes with hardware at all, it's usually cheap soft metal that starts stripping even if my bit doesn't slip. So I bought a set of plastic anchors at Lowe's. The first try, the drill bit that came with the anchors was too big and I could pull screw and all out of the wall. So I went a size smaller and ruined several anchors trying to make them fit. I tried self-drilling plastic anchors and had a fun time removing them when they found something solid they couldn't chew through; I'm no longer on good terms with the landlord so I'm not going to ask about steel frame or whatever lest they find a reason to fine me at move-out. Self-drilling metal anchors have a similar problem: there's something even my drill can't handle about 3/4" into my wall and nothing seems to get through it. It's an apartment so I don't care to find a bit that can chew up whatever it is.

I know I've got crappy screwdriver bits, but I don't know how to find better. I'm using what came with my drill and a cheap socket set. The set of screws that came with my anchors look horrible: rather than a nice cross-shaped Philips it's more rounded and the bit slips at the slightest bit of resistance. This is a source of huge frustration.

So I'm tired of buying cheap hardware and tools. What should I be looking for when I am looking for anchors, screws, and bits for hanging a curtain rod? It's hurting my feelings that I fail at this so much.

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How old is the house? I lived in a house once that was built in the 1920's, and the framing (especially above windows) was hard like a rock. I always had to pre-drill in these areas, and even then it was slow going. –  Tester101 Sep 12 '11 at 19:56
    
You can buy replacement screwdriver bits for your drill at any hardware store. e.g. here's a popular kit: amazon.com/DEWALT-DW2163-DW2163HEX-37-Piece-Fastener-Set/dp/… –  BMitch Sep 13 '11 at 3:20
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Windows typically have 2 or more studs on each side. Use a stud finder to ensure you are installing on a stud, then predrill with a bit slightly smaller than the solid part of the screw (not the threads themselves).

You can put a little soap on the threads of the screw if you want to try to make them easier to install, but I would focus on maintaining pressure and keeping the drill in perfect alignment with the screw. A skipping bit typically indicates that you aren't properly lined up with the screw. Also note that drill bits do wear out over time, particularly if you are skipping them on the screw head a lot, so it could be time for a new one.

See also:

What is the best technique for using a drill to insert screws?

What is the best drill bit to pre-drill holes for screws of a certain size?

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In this case it's an 80" sliding door and I'm having the most trouble with the center; the edges just needed a little pressure to get into the wood. What kind of stud's usually in the center of those? –  OwenP Sep 12 '11 at 15:27
    
@OwenP - 80" external door will most likely have a solid wood header to transfer the load from the jack studs on each side. Though I could see someone using a metal plate, particularly if they sandwiched it between the boards. Putting a solid metal plate on the wall side is a good way to upset the drywall installers. –  BMitch Sep 12 '11 at 15:46
    
Accepting this one. Some of the anchors came loose so I bought new screws, better anchors, new bits, and a pack of stud solvers as plan B. Seems like the better anchors + new bits worked. (By "better" I mean the old ones were mostly smooth and the new ones had little "teeth" on them.) –  OwenP Sep 15 '11 at 2:42
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Have you tried drilling in more than one location? You could be hitting a nail-plate in the wall that's protecting a wire passing through the stud. What kind of metal achor did you try using? I swear by metal Stud Solver anchors for hanging just about anything in drywall.

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If it's a nail-plate it's been in the center stud of 4 separate windows/doorways over which I've hung curtains! Whatever it is, it's too tough for those Stud Solver anchors to get through; they were my favorites on previous projects though. –  OwenP Sep 12 '11 at 15:26
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