Cannot Drill Hole Deep Enough for Hanging Window Blinds due to a Beam


Postby freddyq » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:23 am

Hi all,

I'm hoping I can get some help on here with a drilling issue I have encountered. I was looking to put up some window blinds over the weekend with the fixings screwing into the ceiling of the inset that the window is placed in. However, after drilling about 10-15mm into the ceiling I hit some sort of beam and just couldn't drill any further. We had the windows replaced recently and just above another window in the same room I remember seeing a black coloured beam going across the top whilst the old windows were out and new ones were waiting to be put in.

Where I've tried to drill the hole, when I prod with the drill it doesn't 'sound' like the obstruction is made of metal - it just doesn't have the clang of metal but it's definitely not wood so I'm not sure a) if I can get through this beam to make my hole deep enough and b) if I can, whether I need a different type of drill bit or a more powerful drill.

Can anyone offer any advice on what I can do? I have 2 other windows in the same room I need to put blinds up for, all of them are inset and I fear I will encounter the same problem with the others as well.

Any help would be much appreciated!

TIA
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Postby collectors » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:18 pm

It sound like a metal catnic beam. Go outside & have a look brickwork above the window & see if they are sitting on what looks like a bit of galv or black metal about 3/8" thick. If so drills your holes with a good carbide drill around the 7-8mm size & carefully use some cavity wall/plasterboard fixings/plugs into the steel.
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Postby freddyq » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:20 am

So just to feed back on my experience, I took the approach that the lintel must be made of steel/metal given it definitely wasn't wood or concrete. I spoke to a very helpful chap on the online chat for the store here and though initially I thought I may have to buy a drill as well he said I should get away with my Bosch cordless drill as long as I use the right HSS drill bits for the lintel. So I bought a set of Bosch HSS drill bits and proceeded to attempt the drilling. The advice I had from pretty much everyone was that to make a hole in the lintel, keep the drill speed slow (don't use the hammer action) and start with a small bit around 2mm and then work up to the size required. Obviously, I first used a masonry drill bit to drill through the plaster until I hit the lintel.

The good news is, the HSS drill bit did manage to drill through the lintel although it took a good few minutes of slow drilling to make the hole - maybe I was going too slow. I could see when I pulled the drill back out that the drill bit had tiny metal shavings on it so it was definitely some kind of metal I was dealing with - I don't understand why it didn't sound like metal when poked but maybe that's because it is this metal catnic?

The other issue I had was that despite being ultra cautious my drill bit broke making only the second hole (I needed to put up 3 blinds each requiring 2 holes on each side for the fixings!). What I had worked out though was that as I didn't need to make holes big enough for wall plugs now that i was dealing with metal, the 2mm hole was about the right size to then use a self tapping screw to secure the blind fixing so I went and bought myself a few 2mm HSS drill bits for the rest of the job.

In the end, I got the job done having broken two more bits in the process but what I found frustrating was that no two holes were the same! A couple were fairly straightforward but of the rest, some took a lot longer to drill the hole, others the self tapping screws just would not screw past a certain point and sometimes both! Suffice to say, if I ever hit a metal beam like this for future drilling I don't think I'll be taking it on as a DIY job!
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Postby freddyq » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:24 am

collectors wrote:It sound like a metal catnic beam. Go outside & have a look brickwork above the window & see if they are sitting on what looks like a bit of galv or black metal about 3/8" thick. If so drills your holes with a good carbide drill around the 7-8mm size & carefully use some cavity wall/plasterboard fixings/plugs into the steel.


Ah interesting - thanks for your response. You'll see from my other post that I managed to get the job done in the end with HSS drill bits and self tapping screws but it was not easy! I will have a look at the brickwork outside this evening for the galv/black metal but if I do see that, I'll be a bit worried about how I managed to get the self tapping screws to work :-| I guess I'll just pray the blinds stay up but if they don't, I'll know why!
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Postby collectors » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:48 am

As long as you match a good drill bit to a good self tapper you will be fine.
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Postby freddyq » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:42 pm

collectors wrote:As long as you match a good drill bit to a good self tapper you will be fine.


Fingers crossed! They were decent Bosch bits and good screws as well so hopefully will be fine.

I hope this thread is useful to anyone else who might encounter one of these beams when attempting to drill close to window ceilings.
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