How to Fix Loose Screws in Metal

How to Fix Loose Screws in Metal

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It can be so frustrating to come across a loose screw in metal.

Not only are they irritating, causing snags and making noise, loose screws can compromise the strength and stability of any project so it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve to fix them.

Luckily, there are a few ways this can be done without having to dismantle the project and start over. We’ll walk you through some of those methods in this article.

Can Loose Metal Screws Be Fixed Without Replacing?

The short answer here is yes. Loose metal screws can often be fixed without replacing. It’s important to first work out why your screw has become loose in order to choose the best method for fixing it.

It’s important to fix a loose screw as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage from occurring.

6 Common Reasons Screws Become Loose in Metal

Below are the six most common reasons.

1. Stripped Screw Hole

If your screw is just spinning when you try to tighten it, it is telling you that the screw hole has become stripped.

A stripped screw hole is by far the most common reason for a screw becoming loose in metal. It can be caused by several of the other reasons below if they are not addressed quickly. We’ll give you step by step tips on how to repair a loose metal screw caused by a stripped hole below.

2. Holding Excessive Weight

Particularly common in chairs and bed frames, objects which support sudden weight regularly, screws can work themselves loose over time. This can usually be fixed by removing the screw, adding some thread stopper and reattachin.

3. More Than Expected Use

Similarly to weight bearing projects, when a project is used more frequently than it is designed to be, the parts will come loose more quickly. Common in door handles on kitchen units which are pulled at regularly where metal screws are fastened into metal holdings, a thread locker is ideal to use to prevent this or as a quick repair.

4. Under Tightening

If a screw hasn’t been tightened sufficiently when a project is first assembled, they won’t hold the way they should. This is a really quick fix as a few turns with a screwdriver will solve your problem straight away.

5. Vibrations

Screws on lawnmowers, bicycles, and motorcycles can often work themselves loose over time as they are subjected to vibrations. Fixing these can be as simple as retightening regularly or, to save yourself the time of having to keep checking, a thread tape or thread locker can be applied to the screw to hold it more securely in place.

6. Temperature Changes

Outdoor equipment is often exposed to fluctuating temperatures and, as a result, screws can become loose. Regular tightening will resolve this.

How to Fix a Loose Screw in Metal

In this section, we will walk you through what to do if your screw hole has become stripped. This is remarkably common with screws in metal as the surface of the screw head rubs against the surface it is screwed into over time. This means that the threads of screw have nothing to grip onto, causing them to wobble and not hold your metal surface in place the way it should.

Luckily, a stripped screw hole can be fixed in more than one way. What you are trying to achieve here is to create a surface for the screws threads to grab hold of, keeping your screw snugly, and securely in place.

Here we will walk you through repairing the surface and using a thread locker. For other methods, check our detailed article on fixing stripped screw holes.

Repairing the Surface

To do so, follow the steps below:

  • Remove the loose screw.
  • Place a dolly behind the metal surface, making sure it is as flush as possible.
  • While holding the dolly securely in place, gently tap around the edges of the screw hole using a pick hammer.
  • The surface surrounding the screw hole should now be flatter, giving you a smaller hole into which you can replace your screw.
  • Replace the screw.

Using a Thread Locker

We have talked about several situations when thread lockers will help resolve your loose screws in metal and are available in several strengths. Some will provide permanent hold whereas others will still allow you to disassemble your project using just hand tools at a later date.

We’ll walk you through how to use a thread locker here:

  • Remove your screw.
  • Check that your screw and surface are clean.
  • Apply a few drops of thread locker.
  • Reinsert your screw, allowing time for the locker to cure.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

As with most jobs around the house, there are some common pitfalls which are best avoided when fixing loose screws in metal.

Here is a rundown of some tips to help avoid common mistakes:

  • Use the correct threadlocker for the size of your screw.
  • Don’t use a permanent threadlocker on a part you will need to remove later.
  • Whenever possible, use a washer when inserting screws – these will really help to increase the life of your project by keeping your screws securely in place.
  • Don’t ignore loose screws! A loose screw can cause problems resulting in accidents – whether it’s on a chair or a machine with moving parts. Taking prompt action to repair loose screws can help keep everyone safe.


Loose screws in metal can be irritating, or even dangerous. A few drops of thread locker, the use of a washer, or a bit of time spent repairing a screw hole can save you a lot of time and money that could be needed for bigger repairs if a loose screw is ignored.

While loose screws don’t always need replacing, they do usually need to be removed temporarily to apply a fix. A quick fix like those we discuss here can keep your project strong and looking good.

Depending on the type of project you are working on, you might also want to learn about how to fix loose screws in wood.