Whether you are repairing an existing structure or building a new one, something that you may have to deal with are lintels, specifically, drilling into them. This is particularly the case if you do a lot of stonework and masonry.
In this article, we are going to talk about exactly that. So, if you want to learn how to drill into lintel, keep on reading.
What Is a Lintel?
A lintel is loosely defined as a horizontal support beam on top of a door or window, one that can be made out of steel, concrete, stone, or wood. In other words, a lintel is a structural horizontal block that spans the opening between two vertical supports, such as the sides of doors, windows, and fireplaces too.
Keep in mind that lintels tend to be the same width as the walls in which they are placed into, with the purpose being to bear some of the load above, and to displace the above load into the walls. Essentially, lintels are important structural support elements, although they can sometimes also be decorative.
How to Drill into Lintel
As noted above, a lintel is a structural component of walls, not a specific material. Therefore, for this step by step instructional on how to drill into lintel, our focus will be on concrete lintels, as these are generally the most common kind.
Step 1: Choose the Right Tools
Right off the bat, one of your biggest problems here is going to be finding the right tools for the job. Whether you are drilling through concrete or steel, both of those materials are super tough, so if you don’t have a powerful and reliable drill, as well as the right drill bits, this is not going to be an easy task.
Yes, you may use a hammer drill or normal drill along with masonry drill bits, but the ideal tool for this task is a rotary hammer with an SDS drill bit. That’s because besides rotating, the SDS drill bit is also pounding into the material.
Also, while a normal drill along with some masonry bits will be able to get through concrete, if you happen to hit steel rebar underneath, only specialized SDS bits will be able to penetrate both the steel rebar and concrete without having to be changed.
On a side note, keep in mind that when you are drilling concrete, there is no going back, so it is recommended that you start with the smallest SDS concrete or masonry drill bit possible, which is generally 3 mm. If you are really worried about steel rebar, start with a specialized carbide masonry bit, and then switch to a steel rebar drilling bit once you hit the rebar.
Step 2: Get Prepared
Of course, we are talking about power tools and dangerous materials here, so you do need to be prepared. First off, this means wearing adequate eye and hearing protection, as well as a face mask or respirator so you do not inhale concrete dust. Concrete dust is very poisonous, so this needs to be avoided at all costs.
Although this may not be totally necessary if you are just drilling a couple of small holes into concrete, you do want to consider keeping them wet with a hose, as this will prevent the concrete dust from creating huge airborne clouds that can travel great distances, something your neighbors will not appreciate.
Next, before you get started, just make sure that your drill is ready to go. If you have a drill that comes with an adjustable depth stop, now is the time set it, so you don’t drill too deep. If your drill does not have an adjustable stop, wrap some brightly colored electrical tape around the masonry bit, right at the desired depth.
Step 3: Mark the Hole and Drill a Pilot Hole
Mark the spot where the hole is to be drilled using a pencil or any other marking utensil. Then, using a small drill bit, make a pilot hole that is between 1/8- and 1/4-inch. This will help guide your drill for the real hole.
Keep in mind that if you aim to drill a hole with a large diameter, when making the pilot hole, using a drill bit that is smaller than the intended hole will work to your advantage. When doing this, make sure to set your drill to a low speed or to work in short bursts.
Step 4: Keep Drilling
Insert the required drill bit, and all you need to do now is to keep drilling into the lintel until you reach the desired depth. Apply enough pressure to keep the drill in place and to push it into the material, but not too much pressure.
The tool should do most of the work. Make sure to periodically take the drill out so that loose debris can fall out. If you don’t pull the drill out periodically to allow debris to fall out, you will run into problems. Now you should have a completed hole in the lintel. There is just one small step left.
Step 5: Remove Leftover Dust and Debris
The final thing that you want to do before you can insert concrete anchors or anything else of the sort is to use a can of compressed air to blast away any remaining debris from the hole.
Steel vs. Concrete Lintel: Any Differences When Drilling?
If you have an SDS drill with specialized combination SDS drill bits designed for both concrete and steel, then there are no differences at all. That being said, steel is tougher and generally requires a bit more force, as well as higher quality drill bits to get through.
However, any such issues can be avoided by using the right drill bits.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips, & Tricks
Lastly, here are a few more tips to keep in mind when getting started with the task:
- Never drill concrete without proper eye and breathing protection.
- Avoid using normal drills, particularly battery-powered ones; they just won’t have enough power
- If the lintel is damaged and it needs to be structurally sound, you may want to avoid drilling into it
As long as you follow the steps as we have outlined them today, you should have no problems drilling into both concrete and steel lintels.