Might sound as a simple question, but I am still confused. As a new learning DIYer, I want to know in more detail on which application how much a screw should be tighten.

For example, if I want to put wall anchors in hollow brick (those vertically perforated with a few walls inside), I will put in a plastic anchor, so how much should I tighten a screw into the anchor?

How much should I tighten a screw in a brick wall anchor?

How much should I tighten a screw in plain wood?

How tight in a drywall?

How much should I tighten a screw in a metal object?

And etc., also I do know that some screws, like a Philips one, is actually meant to be stripped under high torque, and Torx are more intended for higher torque, but I want to focus more on how much is it recommended for a screw to be screwed in the material without damaging that material or making it less strong, for example if I am screwing a hinge in a wooden door, I do not want my door to be more prone to breaking because the screw is more tight than it should be, I want a good balance.

So let me know from your experience what are the general guidelines for tightening screws in different materials and some tips and indicators for that. Also what are recommended tools, like comparing manual driver to using a electric drill/Impact driver.


Screwing in to drywall is really the only thing on your list of questions to worry about. A drywall screw should be screwed in to where the head is just barely under the paper on it's face. They make drills, and drill accessory bits, specifically for this task.

For everything else, run the screw in until your material is tight.

As for what tools to use... This is actually personal preference. I personally use an impact driver 95% of the time. But, I've been building houses for 30 years. An impact driver, compared to a drill driver, is better for driving screws in to dense materials. A drill driver will work also but requires more force on the tool to get the results of an impact. For someone inexperienced, I'd recommend getting use to using a drill driver, utilizing it's different clutch settings, before moving on to an impact driver.

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  • Thank you for your answer. What are the biggest pro of a Impact drill to a normal drill for drilling? – appwizcpl Oct 12 '18 at 17:04
  • For me, ease of use. You usually don't have to "manhandle" an impact. Where a drill, if you aren't careful, can break your wrist if used improperly. – BillWeckel Oct 12 '18 at 17:25

For structural connections, all manufacturers of connectors, equipment, etc. have a “recommended design stress” for each screw/bolt. Often, they will even pre-drilling pilot holes so as not to split wood, crack brick, deform metal, etc. This is very critical for withdrawal stress connections.

For non-structural connections, I’ve seen recommendations to “hand tighten plus a quarter turn”. Obviously, you don’t want to split, crack, etc. for these connections either.

BTW, I like @BillWickel’s explanation for drywall.

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  • Good thing you mentioned structural connections, because it reminded me of a basic Ikea setting (even tho you might not mean it). For example, I noticed in pre-drilled holes in Ikea furniture, where there is particleboard for example, if I drill a screw and connect it to something, like a metal piece, it always feels like if I over do it a bit, instead of tightening it just enough, overtime it gets more loose than even a less tight screw in to begin with. So does this imply that you are better off with a hand tight and maybe 1/16 turn in those cases with pre-drilled holes furniture? – appwizcpl Oct 12 '18 at 17:22
  • @appwizcpl Yes, I’ll bet material like particleboard would easily fail under too much pressure and it’s probably better to “under-tighten” than “over-tighten”. – Lee Sam Oct 12 '18 at 17:42
  • Thank you @Lee Sam for all your answers, one more weird question, by hand tight do you/people mean the same as I think which is as tight as a human can it tight without leverage like a wrench/rod? – appwizcpl Oct 12 '18 at 18:12
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    @appwizcpl I think that would be a good definition. Your “tight as a human” may be more than mine, but you just don’t want it “sloppy” tight. – Lee Sam Oct 12 '18 at 19:59
  • One more question I thought I forgot, but I actually mentioned in the post. How tight should I screw in a screw in an wall anchor? It kinda feels different then a normal screw to wood. – appwizcpl Oct 13 '18 at 12:44

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