Screws vs. Bolts: Key Differences to Keep in Mind

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When it comes to choosing fastener options, you’re faced with several choices. But two of the most common fasteners people choose between are screws and bolts. The original concept of the screw can be traced back to around 200 B.C. and screw-like fasteners have come a long way since then. But while similar, screws and bolts serve different purposes. So how do you know which one you should use? Let’s take a closer look at a few differences between screws and bolts.


Both traditional and custom screws can be defined as an externally threaded fastener. These fasteners are operated by a central drive, which means they can be tightened or released by applying a twisting force to the head of the screw. While people commonly think of screws as something that must be used with a component that is already threaded, screws can be used to actually create the threading. Because of this, screws are more adaptable and can be used in holes of pre-assembled components or used to connect an internal thread. Screws can be made from a variety of materials and come in several sizes so they can be adapted to be used for almost any project.


One of the main differences between screws and bolts is that bolts are generally used in unthreaded holes and are secured by using nuts. So instead of being screwed into the material for security, the bolts screw into the nut to remain secured. Unlike how screws have to be twisted in, bolts are often used in pre-formed holes and require no torquing. And when it comes to threading, bolts can be partially threaded, but most often consist of a smooth shaft that is not tapered. Because of the smooth shaft, bolts tend to be longer than screws so they can reach through the entire material that is being secured. But like screws, bolts can also be made from a variety of materials so they can be used for many different projects.

Screws and bolts have many similarities, which is why they’re often the popular fastener options. But because it’s important to use the right one for your project, consider talking to a screw manufacturer to get custom fasteners for your exact needs.