If you’re hanging curtains in your home or fitting brand-new blinds, you’ll need to fasten them above your Windows or French Doors. Your tape measure has done its job and everything fits your window frames fine, but when you try to affix the fittings, you may come across some resistance. This is the lintel - a solid beam located above both windows and doors in buildings.
In order to attach the fittings for your window coverings into position, you’ll need to penetrate this structural support beam. How difficult this will be is dependent on what the lintel in your home is constructed from.
Timber lintel beams were once common and quite easy to drill through but eventually fell out of fashion for their lack of durability and vulnerability when it comes to fire. Concrete and steel lintels are more common options now, but can be just as tricky to drill through.
To find out more about lintel beams and how to drill through them, keep reading.
What is a lintel?
Normally, the lintel will be the exact same width as the wall in which its positioned, and end within the wall so that the weight it’s taking is conveyed to the surrounding walls only.
While mainly used as an essential structural support element in construction, lintels are sometimes included as a decorative feature in architecture, such as in churches.
Drilling into both lintels made of concrete and steel can be problematic in different ways, but with the right tools you can still get the job done, regardless of whether you’re into DIY or a professional builder.
How to drill into a concrete lintel
When drilling into a concrete lintel, you should start with the smallest drill bit for masonry you have in your set. A drill bit of 3mm is a good place to start, and you can then work up from there to get the size of hole you need. When it comes to concrete, the smaller the drill bit, the easier it will penetrate.
Concrete is often reinforced by steel rods, so there’s always a chance you might hit one when drilling. If you do, you could try moving your fixing hole. Alternatively, if you have Slotted Drive System (SDS) drill bits, you’ll be able to penetrate both steel and concrete should you come across it.
How to drill through a steel lintel
More difficult than concrete to fix to, steel lintels provide extra challenges. After penetrating the plaster and reaching the lintel beam, you must change out your drill bit for a high-speed steel bit when utilising self-tapping screws to fix in place what you need to hang.
The last step can be challenging as you will need to locate your drilled hole and insert the self-tapping screws through typically 20mm of plaster.
If you choose to use a drill, make sure your set is up to the job with a full range of drill bits, including SDS ones.
Good practices for drilling
When drilling holes in any surface, always remember to keep your drill straight at a right-angle to the wall. This will make sure the fixing hole you’re making will be straight. If you drill at any other angle, the screws you fix after will go crooked too.
Always check your drill bit is not worn before working, and be prepared to discard and use a new one as necessary. Blunt bits will make your task tougher and put unnecessary stress on your drill motor. What’s more, steel and concrete are hard surfaces to drill through, so make sure your bit is sharp before you start.