Drilling Into Concrete Lintel

Drilling concrete is a mammoth task by all accounts. However, it is made a little bit trickier when the concrete you are drilling resides above an important structure in your home such as your window or door.

Any damage that occurs inside or to a lintel must be dealt with quickly and adequately to prevent further damage and the possibility of the lintel failing.

As such, it can be tricky to drill concrete properly and can result in you feeling uneasy about the task. That being said, it certainly can be done, it just needs patience and the correct tools. Keep on reading to find out more. 

How do you drill concrete lintel? 

When drilling into the concrete lintel, it is of utmost importance that you have all of the tools you will need at hand before you begin. It can be quite a complicated job that will take power and elbow grease, but once you know how to do it, it is as simple as it can be! 

Whether you are putting up a new curtain pole or installing some new blinds, or even hanging a fireplace or picture frame, there will come a time when you will need to drill into a lintel. Now, if you have timber lintels, this may be a doddle. However, sturdier materials such as steel or concrete require a bit more power. 

Concrete lintels in particular are a little trickier to drill into (at least at first). Therefore, it is not uncommon to encounter some issues. It is a lot tougher to drill into in comparison to a regular wall or surface which may just be made from plasterboard (or drywall as it is often known).

The drills and bits needed for the concrete lintel will need to be completely adept at dealing with the task at hand. 

The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that you should start small. By this, we mean that you should begin by using the smallest drill bit that you have available, preferably a 3mm masonry drill bit.

You should then slowly work your way up until you get a hole in the size that you desire. Starting in this way can make the process quicker and cleaner in the long run. 

The best drill that you can get for this mammoth task of a job is an SDS drill and the correct SDS drill bits to go along with it. SDS drills (or Slotted Drive Shaft drills as they are known) are specially designed for tougher drilling jobs such as drilling or hammering concrete, brickwork, and other masonry.

It can make light work of a job that would take a very long time with a regular drill and bits. Just remember that you should still follow the same rule of working your way up from the smallest size you have available. Even if this means starting at 3mm and working up to 10mm or more! 

However, it must be noted that these are pricier, so not everyone is keen on investing in them. This is particularly true of people who may only need it for one or two small jobs such as drilling into a concrete lintel.

With this in mind, it might be worth considering hiring an SDS drill and bits to make your job easier and cut costs. 

If there is no way you can get your hands on an SDS drill for your drilling concrete lintel needs then a regular drill can be used but will be much trickier and far more time-consuming. Just ensure that you start with your smallest drill bit and that you bear in mind that it may be harder to get the depth you need. 

You should also keep in mind that when drilling into concrete you should ensure that your drill is kept straight so that the hole is straight too. This is important in ensuring that there are no angles that could affect the item that you are fixing onto your walls such as your curtain poles or blinds.


What drill bit do you need?

If you’re drilling into a lintel, use a masonry drill bit to bore out the metal face. Then swap drills for an HSS pilot bit which will cut through steel or iron and open it in stages up to 7mm (depending on how thick your material is). After that’s done, change back to a regular masonry drill with bits around 3-7 mm before finishing off with brown wallplug screws.

Can you drill into concrete with a regular drill?

You can drill into concrete with a regular drill, especially if you have no other option.

That being said, it is not the best option and is certainly not something we recommend. It can be time-consuming to use a regular drill to drill into concrete, especially when there are other drills, for example, the hammer drill that is far better equipped for this mammoth task. 

You will need patience and a wide array of drill bits to ensure you can properly get into the concrete. A proper drill and the correct bits would be far better in comparison to a regular drill.

With this in mind, we would not recommend that you use a regular drill for drilling concrete, but if it is the only type of drill that you have available then it will be fine if used with patience and the correct bits. 

Can I drill holes in concrete for drainage?

Yes, you can, in theory, drill holes in your concrete for drainage. You will need a hefty drill that is up to the job since there could be inches upon inches of concrete to be drilling through. A core drill with the correct bit (a core drill bit) will be needed for this task.

You should, however, bear in mind that this may not be enough in terms of adequate draining. Before you lay out any concrete slabs for groundwork you should assess where you want to put your drainage areas.

If you are having issues with a mass of surface water you should consult an expert who may be able to put in place better drainage options than some drilled holes. It is likely that drilled holes will quickly become flooded with water and dirt due to their small size, thus not providing adequate drainage. 

How can you tell if a lintel is concrete or steel?

It can be difficult to tell whether a lintel is concrete or steel if it has already been fitted and plastered or bricked over.

However, if you are inspecting a lintel on an older property and the lintel would have been there for years, then there are some sure-fire signs that you can look out for in points of weakness and weight-bearing areas of the home.

For example, above windows and doors, if you see some cracking, then there are likely to be lintels installed (and possibly damaged if there is cracking). Vertical cracks are the most common symptom of a damaged lintel, so if you see these you should get the area checked. 

However, it is important to note that not all lintels will be damaged. As such, it can be difficult to identify lintels that are in good condition. Professionals may be able to tell just from examining the brickwork. That being said, even this is not foolproof. 

The best way is to drill into it and see if you encounter any resistance. This may mean there is a concrete or steel lintel behind the wall. Another surefire way of identifying the lintel is to remove the window (for example, if you are having new windows installed). This is, of course, messy and may not be possible for some people. 

What is the difference between a header and a lintel?

There is no real difference between a header and a lintel. These two words are used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

Namely, they are both referring to the supporting beam above a window or doorway, usually made from concrete, steel, timber, or brick. It is more common to hear this being referred to as a lintel, but the term header is still used in various places around the world.

You may also hear the term beam being used in the same situations. Beams are also very important in the structure of a house and are used to help strengthen the structure.

However, the difference is that beams are used to support any slabs that rest on them, whereas a lintel is used solely for the purpose of a masonry wall, typically above a doorway or window in a home. 

Is a lintel beam necessary?

Yes, a lintel beam is indeed necessary if you are building a structure with a window or door. They are needed to support the walls above the entrances and openings, as, without them, the wall would not be supported since a window or door would not be strong enough to support a whole wall.

If you want to build a safe building, home, or other structure then you should be using sturdy lintels made from steel, concrete, timber, or brickwork to provide this extra wall strength. They will also be used as a way of safeguarding your windows and doors, preventing damage and cracking. 

You should also bear in mind that in modern buildings, the most common form of lintel to use is reinforced steel or concrete. Both of these provide the safest, sturdiest options. Timber and other wood lintels are not used as often anymore.

However, if you have a home with timber lintels and have had no issues, then they should be kept in place. There is no need to replace lintels that are intact and doing their job, and there are many homes that were built pre-second world war that still have timber lintels.


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