Self-Tapping vs Sheet Metal Screw – What’s the Difference

Self-Tapping vs Sheet Metal Screw

As a homeowner, DIY enthusiast, or handyman, you’ve probably dealt with screws more than once. You go to the hardware store and realize there is an array of screws to choose from. But picking the right screw for the job is crucial to avoid causing damage or accidents. This blog discusses the difference between self-tapping and sheet metal screws.

What is Self Tapping?

Self-tapping is a type of screw that has threading along its entire length. It has multiple head designs, such as Phillips, slotted and Torx, to suit various applications. These screws create their threads as they are screwed in, eliminating the need for pre-drilling holes and making them easy to use – perfect for DIY projects and complex industrial installations.

What is Sheet Metal Screw?

A Sheet Metal Screw is a fastener typically with self-tapping threads and is used in applications requiring a strong, permanent fastening. It usually has a flat, wafer, or oval head design with threading on its underside, allowing it to be driven into materials like wood or metal without needing pre-drilling. Sheet metal screws provide superior pullout strength compared to other types of screws because they bond directly with secured material. They are extremely versatile and can be used across many industries, such as automotive, construction, and aerospace.

Difference Between Self-Tapping and Sheet Metal Screw

Self-tapping screws are designed to cut their threads in pre-drilled holes and often feature a sharp cutting edge, while sheet metal screws push material outward and create their threads, making them suitable for softer materials like plastic or wood.


Self-tapping screws are designed to create their threads in the material they are being screwed into, while sheet metal screws have already been threaded and do not need to create their threads. Self-tapping screws typically have a sharp tip designed to cut through the material, while sheet metal screws have a more rounded tip designed to fit into pre-existing holes.

Drive Types

Self-tapping screws come in various drive types, such as slotted, Phillips, hex, and Torx. Sheet metal screws come in slotted and Phillips drive types only. This makes self-tapping screws better suited for applications with limited space or access to a tool to fit to install the screw.


Self-tapping screws are designed for softer wood or plastic, while sheet metal screws are designed for harder materials such as steel or aluminium. Self-tapping screws are also available in stainless steel and other corrosion-resistant materials, which makes them well-suited for outdoor applications where weather resistance is important.


Self-tapping screws generally have lower tensile strength than sheet metal screws due to their design and threading process. Sheet metal screws are usually stronger than self-tapping screws because they do not require cutting threads into the material they are being screwed into; instead, they fit into pre-existing holes created by a drill bit or other tool.


Self-tapping screws tend to be less expensive than sheet metal screws because they require less manufacturing time and labour costs associated with threading them onto the material being fastened together. Additionally, self-tapping screw designs can often be used across multiple materials, reducing cost compared to specific sheet metal screw designs for each material type being fastened together.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between self-tapping and sheet metal screws is critical when undertaking any project that involves fixing metal or other materials. The type of screw you choose depends on the thickness and material of the object you are fixing, the thread pitch, and whether it’s necessary to use a pilot hole. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you can select the right screw for the job and complete your project efficiently and safely.



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