7 Reasons You Can’t Drill Deep Enough Into Your Wall

  • Find out what is stopping your drill.
  • How to drill into your wall safely.
Drilling into a wall

Why your drill won’t go any further

Is it thick concrete? Your home’s external brick wall? Is your drill too weak?

… Have you hit a metal pipe?

These are just some of the many reasons that your drill may have stopped making any process while you’re putting pressure on it from the other side of where you want it to go. We would advise not to continue pushing once you realise that your drill has stopped. Instead, it’s time to figure out why.

Common reasons your drill has stopped making progress

  1. Concrete – You will need a SDS drill for this or a diamond masonry drill bit. If using an SDS, know that they have been known to drill through steel.
  2. Concrete lintel with steel bars – We wouldn’t recommend trying to drill through this because you could damage the lintel or the reinforcing bar.
  3. Steel reinforcement – You will not be able to move this obstacle or drill through it. Instead, change the position of the object that you need to put up which requires you to drill into your wall.
  4. Brick – The question you should be asking yourself here is: “Do I want to drill through my external wall?” Doing this means you could have drilled through layers of insulation, and you’ll be putting a somewhat permanent hole in your house’s brickwork.
  5. Metal pipe – This could be a sewer pipe or a water pipe. Either way, we wouldn’t recommend drilling through this, either.
  6. Metal plate – These are sometimes placed over electrical or water piping to stop homeowners from accidentally drilling into the pipes. Put the drill down!
  7. A stud – Although these might make cheaper drills stop, most decent drills should be able to drill through studs without any issues. We would recommend using a stud finder before drilling, though.
Drilling deep into a wall
A handyman wielding a drill and other tools.

How to stop yourself from drilling too far

A really useful trick to stop yourself from pushing your drill too far into your wall (and potentially smacking into something that you shouldn’t), is to measure out the depth you need to drill on your drill bit and then wrap a piece of masking tape just above that measurement.

Masking (or duct) tape isn’t going to come off your drill very easily, and you’ll have an obvious visual cue that tells you when you need to stop applying pressure on your drill.

Why it’s important to stop drilling when necessary

Not only could you hit or damage something in your home’s walls that you can’t see, you could also damage your drill.

You should pay a lot of attention if you’re using an SDS drill, especially. These types of drills will go through practically anything, and that can cause so much damage. Imagine accidently drilling into a piece of reinforcing steel!

The most realistic pieces of advice we can give you are these:

  1. Don’t drill recklessly.
  2. If your drill hits something, stop.
  3. Don’t apply a large amount of pressure during the drilling process.

Ignoring your surroundings and the motion of your drill could end in a bit of a disaster if you aren’t careful. The best result is a damaged drill bit, the worse is a damaged home.

Why you aren't drilling deep enough
A drill making a hole in a metal plate.

Clueing yourself into your home’s design

Beyond looking at the blueprints of your home, there are ways to “look” behind the walls and figure out what is there so that you don’t get caught out and end up drilling into things that shouldn’t be drilled into.

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To do this, walk around your home and make a basic sketch of where your plumbing is, where your electrical outlets are, and which walls sound hollow.

Your plumbing will be full of pipes that run up the inside of your home – this includes copper pipes from central heating systems. Electrical outlets will tell you where there might be wires and will give you an idea of places to avoid putting a drill.

Hollow-sounding walls immediately tell you that you have plasterboard, then (likely) some kind of insulation, and finally brick. This is a common make-up. It might not always be the case, but it’s easier to repair plasterboard if you start drilling and need to stop.

Non-hollow walls will usually be concrete or brick.

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