Is an Impact Driver Better Than a Screwdriver?

Comparing Torque and Efficiency: An Examination of Impact Drivers and Screwdrivers


In this article, we will provide an in-depth comparison between two popular tools – the impact driver and the screwdriver. Both tools are designed for driving screws, but they differ significantly in their functions, features, and capabilities.

Impact Driver vs. Screwdriver

Functions: A screwdriver works by manually rotating the screwdriver bit, either by hand or with a motorized driver. An impact driver, on the other hand, uses a combination of rotational force and percussive blows to drive screws into material quickly and efficiently.

Features: A screwdriver typically has a simple design with a long, straight handle and a swappable driver bit that can be changed for different screw types. An impact driver usually has a hexagonal chuck that accepts driver bits and can be used with a wide variety of screw sizes and types. Impact drivers often have adjustable torque settings, LED lights for visibility, and can be corded or cordless.

Use Cases: A screwdriver is an essential tool for any DIY enthusiast or homeowner. It is best suited for driving screws into relatively soft materials like drywall, softwood, or plastic. On the other hand, an impact driver is ideal for tougher materials, such as hardwood, concrete, or metal. It is capable of generating more torque than a screwdriver, making it a more efficient tool for driving long screws or bolts.

Efficiency: While a screwdriver can be used to drive screws relatively efficiently, an impact driver is significantly faster and more efficient. This is because an impact driver uses both rotational force and percussive blows to drive screws into materials, resulting in a more secure, consistent, and fast installation.

Speed: The speed of a screwdriver depends on the user’s ability to rotate the screwdriver bit by hand. An impact driver, however, can be adjusted to a specific speed, which can drive a screw in much faster than a screwdriver. This feature makes impact drivers ideal for professionals, such as contractors or installers, who need to complete tasks quickly and efficiently.

Versatility: Screwdrivers come in different styles and sizes for various screw types, but they are most effective with smaller screws and softer materials. Impact drivers, on the other hand, are more versatile and can be used for a wider variety of projects. They work effectively with various screw types and sizes, including long screws or heavy-duty hardware.

Torque: One of the most significant differences between a screwdriver and an impact driver is the torque they produce. A screwdriver typically produces between 20-30 lbs of torque, whereas an impact driver can produce up to 200 lbs of torque. This makes an impact driver ideal for driving screws into tough materials such as hardwood, metal, and concrete.

Pros and Cons

Screwdriver:

  • Pros: Low cost, easy to use, effective with small screw sizes and soft materials.
  • Cons: Can be physically demanding, limited torque which can result in stripped screws

Impact Driver:

Pros: More efficient and faster, more versatile, can handle diverse materials and screw types, capable of delivering high amounts of torque, ideal for driving large screws or bolts.

Cons: Heavier, more expensive than screwdrivers, not suitable for driving small or delicate screws.

Which is Better, Impact Driver or Screwdriver?

The impact driver is a more versatile and efficient tool for driving screws, combining speed and accuracy to deliver exceptional performance. However, a screwdriver still has a role to play in more delicate applications. An impact driver is a preferred tool choice for professionals in construction, carpentry, and engineering fields, whereas a screwdriver is better suited for home-based DIY projects involving smaller screws and softer materials.


Impact Driver FAQ


How Do You Not Strip Screws With an Impact Driver?

Learn how to use an impact driver and avoid stripping screws with an impact driver, here are some tips you can follow:

Use the right screwdriver bit: Ensure that you use high-quality screwdriver bits designed for use with impact drivers. Low-quality bits can quickly wear out and slip, leading to stripped screws.

Use the right speed and torque settings: Before driving the screws, set the driver’s speed and torque settings to match the requirements of the job. Use lower speeds and torque settings for delicate materials and higher ones for tougher surfaces.

Allow the bit to grip the screw: To avoid slipping, make sure the screwdriver bit is fully inserted into the screw head before starting to drive the screw.

Apply pressure while driving: Apply constant pressure while driving screws to avoid slipping or stripping. Hold the impact driver firmly and apply steady downward force to keep the bit engaged with the screw.

Pilot Holes: Pre-drilling pilot holes can be a good practice to avoid damaging the screws or the surface. It will also allow the screws to thread easily and prevent the impact driver from stripping the screws.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your impact driver performs efficiently and that you do not strip any screws while working on your projects.

Can You Put Screws in With an Impact Driver?

Yes, you can put screws in with an impact driver. In fact, putting screws in with an impact driver is one of the primary functions of this power tool.

An impact driver delivers a high level of torque and rotational force, allowing you to quickly and easily drive screws into even the toughest materials, such as hardwood, concrete, or metal.

The impact driver also features an excellent grip, which reduces the chances of the driver slipping or stripping screws. Impact drivers can also be especially useful when driving long screws or when working in tight spaces. If you are keen to learn more about impact drivers, see: what is an impact driver.

Do I Need an electric screwdriver or impact driver?

Whether you need an electric screwdriver or an impact driver depends on the tasks you have ahead of you. An electric screwdriver can be useful for small household tasks like assembling furniture or replacing covers on electrical appliances. These are tasks where speed and precision are more important rather than power. An electric screwdriver can easily fit into tight places, which makes it ideal for assembling furniture, mounting shelves, or tightening small screws.

On the other hand, an impact driver delivers high torque and rotational force, which makes it ideal for heavy-duty tasks like driving long screws, nuts, and bolts effortlessly. An impact driver is suitable for tasks like securing timber frame buildings, installing decks, and constructing large pieces of furniture.

If you’re primarily working on household projects or light-to-medium-duty tasks, an electric screwdriver may be sufficient for your needs. However, if you’re working on heavy-duty construction tasks or projects involving tougher materials, then an impact driver might be the better choice.