20 Types of Screw Heads and What They’re For


The first known appearance of screws occurred during the time of the ancient Greeks. Surprisingly, they weren’t used to attach one part to another, instead they were used to press olives and grapes. Fast forward to the middle ages, when the screw design allowed printing presses to exert great force without expending much energy. Unlike nails, screws allow for both the assembling and disassembling of an object.

That plus their stronger hold soon saw them overtake nails as the fastener of choice in the new world. Today, screws come in a vast variety of designs. A huge part of a screws design is the screw head. Screw head designs matter significantly when it comes to your project. Everything from the shape and drive type can determine the success of your project. Today we’ll present you with 20 types of screw heads and what they’re for.

The Basics

Before we take a look at the different types of screws, let’s learn a bit about the screw. Early screws were made by hand, so were expensive. Screws are cylindrical fasteners with a variety of purposes. All screws have a threaded body, or shaft. They also have a turning head. The screw head is where you apply force when it comes time to tighten the screw into the material. Screws are made from a variety of materials, such as stainless steel. To ensure longevity, strength and reliability, screws are usually coated with either black oxide or zinc.

The most commonly used screws are: drywall screws, wood screws, deck screws, masonry screws, and self-drilling screws. When it comes right down to it, there is no one all-purpose screw. The screw must match the project. In other words, it’s important to find screws that will suit the job. You just don’t look at the project, but you have to look at the materials the screw will be used to fasten. When a screw is designed, everything is taken into account: The size, head, coarseness of the thread, etc. In order to put you on the right track when it comes to finding the right screw for your project, ask yourself the following:

  • What is my project?
  • What kind of material(s) will I be connecting?
  • Will I need an exterior or interior screw?
  • Do I have the proper screwdrivers necessary to tighten or loosen the screw?
  • How long do I need the screw to be?
  • How Do I Determine What Type of Screw I Need?

If you are a serious DIYer, or simply a new homeowner who wants to learn as much as they can about the different types of screw heads, then we recommend you visit sites like Home Depot once you read our article. At such sites, you can browse the different types of screws and become familiar with the various materials used in their manufacturing, different coatings, uses and so on.

1. Slotted Head Screw

Slotted screws, along with Philips are among the most commonly used screws. Also known as flathead screws as the one slot is used by a flat screwdriver instead of a Philips screwdriver. Common and cheap, these basic fasteners are not really the best to use in most situations. This is because they strip easily and are generally weaker than other screws.As such they are chosen for situations where very little torque is required. The slotted screw is the oldest type of screw. These screws are used by hobbyists and simple carpentry projects because they don’t put as much stress on materials as a truss screw would. For instance, if you’re going to attach a light switch to your wall, you could use a slotted screw. Other uses include electrical applications and furniture.

2. Torx Head Screw

You can tell torx head screws by the six pointed star on their head. This means torx screws can handle more torque than most screws. Actually, torque is where they get their name, torx from. Just remember one thing, you’ll need a specific driver or bit in order to use them as a fastener. A Philips just won’t cut it. You’ll need to get a screw driver specifically made for torx screws called a torx screwdriver. Camcar Textron developed this screw in 1967, where it also got the knick name of “star screw”. You’ll find these screws used most often in the motorcycle, bicycle world, as well as electronics. Since you can use more torque, it means that it can be tightened more than other screws, so is considered a more secure screw,

3. Combi Head Screws

Combi screws are just as the name implies: A combination of two screw heads on one. There are many different types of combi screws, all of which can be used with one or more drivers. The purpose of a combi screw is convenience. In other words, that one screw can be used with either a Philips or a flathead driver, and so on. This means that the individual has fewer tools to carry. More common combi head screws include: Slotted/Philips, Slotted/Robertson, Philips/Robertson, Torx/Robertson, Slotted/Pozidriv, and Philips/Robertson. Top uses for this screw design can be found in electrical projects.

4. Oval Head Screw

Oval head screws have heads which are raised and rounded. As such, a portion of their head will be exposed. As far as fasteners go, if you’re looking for a screw head to be exposed, either for ease of access or aesthetic reasons, then this is a good choice for you. The oval headed screw comes in a variety of drive styles, from Phillips to flat. They can be used for a many projects, and can often be used for electrical projects. The shape of the head gives no real strength or other functional advantage. Many people simply choose this screw head for aesthetic purposes as it is exposed and gives the project a finished appearance.

5. Flat Head Screw

Flat head screws are also known as slotted head screws, and are among the most commonly used screws when it comes to home repairs and hobbies. These inexpensive screws work with a Phillips or straight edged screwdriver. When in place, you’ll notice that these screws will lie flush with the surface, unlike raised or round headed screws. The advantage of these screws include their cost effectiveness, easy to find, and versatility in handling a variety of projects. Their main disadvantage is that they strip easily, so go easy on the tightening. Another name for this is ‘countersunk’. Countersunk screws ensure that you’ve got a good, clean finish when it’s needed. This is especially useful when crafting furniture. cabinets or shelving. Flat heads can have threads which work with wood or metal.

6. Pozidriv Head Screw

A quick glimpse may give the impression that these are a Philips type screw, but such is not the case. The Pozidriv screw is actually a step up from the Philips screw design. GKN Screws and Fasteners took the Philips head design and made improvements. The major improvement the Posidriv has over the Philips is the ability of the Pozidriv to handle more torque. As for uses, the Pozidriv screw is just as versatile as the Philips screw and can be used in almost every application.

7. Truss Head Screw

Truss screws are short, fat and wide in appearance. They come with a round, domed head. Often zinc-plated to resist corrosion, they are made from high quality stainless steel which provides strength and reliability. Common uses for Truss screws are for home remodeling, cabinet making, frames and fences. The extra wide design of these screws means that the holding pressure is perfectly distributed, which prevents any crushing of thin materials. The passivated truss screws are black in color with additional protection from oxidation and chemicals.

8. Phillips Head Screw

The Philips screw head can be easily recognized by its crosshair design. This design made it easier to use the screw as well as more efficient, since the screw would be able to self-center, improving the chance that the screw would enter the surface straight. Efficiency was the key, as this screw was designed specifically for use in a manufacturing environment. The Japanese made an improvement to the Philips screw, which is known as the JIS, or Japanese Industrial Standard. Like the slotted screw, the Phillips head screw is one of the most commonly seen head, and comes in a variety of styles, materials and coatings. The Phillips head screw can handle anything from basic woodworking, cabinet making, fencing, and works with both metal and wood materials.

9. Round Washer Head Screw

The round washer head screw is one of the most versatile screws on the market. The screw has a washer built right in. This washer increases the bearing area, increasing the strength of the connection. These screws are available in a variety of drive styles, such as Phillips, combination, square and more. The round washer head screw is employed in such applications, as general woodworking, cabinet installation, hinges, and countertop installation. .

10. Bugle Head Screw

Bugle Screws are specifically made for drywall installation. Most bugle screws have a Phillips drive, but there are some that use a square drive, slot, or torx. These are also known as self-drilling screws. This means that the tip of the bugle screw comes with a drill tip, which helps immensely as there’s no need to pre-drill a pilot hole. Bugle screws have a flat head, meaning that they’ll lie flush with the surface, not protrude. Bugle head screws come in different types. For example, there are Philips bugle head coarse thread screws, polymer coated bugle screws, and bugle screws made for exterior use.

11. Pan Head Screw

Pan head screws are recognizable by their wide, flat heads. In fact, that’s why they are called [an head screws, the head resembles an upside down frying pan. The head’s profile is slightly domed with a deeply recessed socket. Speaking of sockets, the pan head screw comes in a variety of drive designs, everything from Philips to torx. The deep sockets reduce cam-out as well. Pan head screws are used in decorative projects, shelf brackets, sheet metal and more.

12. Square Head Screw

Cam-out refers to a bit that slips out of the screw head. In other words, if you are attempting to tighten a screw, the the screwdriver tip keeps slipping out of the screw head, you’ve experienced a cam-out. Square head screws reduce cam-out, and this is why they are preferred by many. In 1908, P.I. Robertson invented the square head screw, which is why the square head screw is also known as the Robertson screw head. The square head screw is used in woodworking, construction, and electrical projects.

13. Button Head Screw

Button head Screws have a over-sized, high profile domed head. The drive on the top of the head is hexagonal. When in place, this screw head sits flush with the surface of the material. These screws may be old-fashioned, but they are durable, and come in a variety of materials. You’ll find them used most often in vehicle manufacturing facilities, electronic equipment, machinery and so on. Since it has a hexagonal recession on the head, you’d use an Allen key to tighten or loosen it.

14. Round Screw Heads

The round head screw is just as it’s name suggests. It is a screw with a round head that sits above the surface of the material when tightened. The underside of the screw head is wide. It’s this width which allows the weight to be evenly distributed, providing a stronger grip on the material. Round head screws aren’t used as much today. Due to their high profile, these screws are used for decorative purposes where the screw is seen as part of the shelving, cabinets, or any other project that a screw is used as an accent. This is why most round head screws come with a polished brass or stainless steel finish. They are also used as machine screws, fastening metal parts together, as well as electrical applications, furniture, and switch plates.

15. Hex Socket Head Screw

Have you ever put together a bit of exercise equipment or a piece of furniture, and the instructions called for an ‘Allen key’? Well, the Allen key is used to tighten a socket screw, or Allen screw. These have a hexagonal drive in the head. The only way to tighten or loosen them is to use an Allen wrench, key or hex key. They have uniform threads, and are strong with a higher torque force. This means you need less socket screws to fasten two materials than if you used a different screw. The fewer screws mean less weight and less holes. Finally, know that there is a difference between a Hex socket head screw and a Hex head screw. In a Hex socket head screw only the socket has a hex shape.

16. Hex Head Screws

Hex head screws are a type of machine screw. They are not the same as Hex socket head screws because Hex head screws have a hexagonal shaped head and can only be tightened with a wrench. There is no internal socket as there is with Hex socket shaped screws. In other words, a Hex head screw resembles a bolt. There are also combi head Hex head screws which will come with a combination hex-shaped head/slotted/Phillips head. Hex head screws are used to join heavy objects. They can attach heavy items to steel, masonry or wood. Self-drilling Hex head screws can be used to bind two metal surfaces together.

17. Lox Head Screws

The lox head screw is not commonly seen. The drive design is one of four squares which overlap one another. This equals 12 contact points which allow for more torque when tightening. Because of the deep recess and 12 contact points, the lox screw will remain on the bit of the driver without the need for it being magnetized, cam-out is also reduced. Since it’s a high torque screw, the lox head is perfect for items which require a stronger screw such as outdoor decks construction, sheet metal work, and drywall work. .

18. Fillister Head Screw

Fillister or cheese head screws have a large head with a deep slotted recess. This design gives the fillister head screw high torque when tightening. These slotted screws are then used to connect either wood or metal to a metal surface. Also known as a machine screw, they aren’t used as much today as they once were. In general, today they are used to repair older projects where fillister screws were the original fastener, as well as in machinery and electrical projects.

19. Binding Head Screw

Any hobbyist who’ve put together their own scrapbooks will recognize these screws. These screws are used to bind pages together in a secure manner. Their heads are slightly raised. When binding, they fit together via the joining of their male and female sides. While they are basically used to bind pages, you can most certainly use them to bind fabric swatches, purses, belts, shoes, notes, and more. Since these screws will usually be a part of a project, like a scrap book, many of them are made of high quality material, coated, with a polished look.

20. Flange Head Screw

Flanged head screws come in a variety of designs. What makes the flange head screw different is the flange that lies directly underneath the screw head. Think of the flange as an integrated washer. The flange distributes the weight of the material over a wider area than the same screw style sans washer. This is exactly what makes the flange head screw the best choice for fastening two metal surfaces together. For instance, in the automotive industry, fastening a metal component to the vehicles metal frame would require a flange head screw.

Final Thoughts

In summary, learning about the different types of screws head is a must for all DIYers. After all, those of you who own a home realize that in order to save money, a homeowner must become familiar with basic home repairs and projects. Everything from installing a shelf, to remodeling a room will definitely require you to learn about the various types of screws and screw heads. Case in point, if you’re building a cabinet your design may not call for any exposed parts that can get caught on things.

No one wants to walk past a floor cabinet and snag their sweater on a protruding screw head. Therefore, you’d use a screw with a flat head, one that lies flush with the surface of the wood. By learning about the types of screw heads available, you can save yourself much grief as you craft your projects or make your repairs. We hope this small guide into the world of 20 different types of screw heads has given you a good running start when it comes to determining the right screw head for you.

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