How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole: 6 Ways That Work with Wood, Plastic, and Metal

Screwed joints are some of the most secure, and it is all due to the way in which screws wedge themselves into the wood fibers. However, what do you do when wood fibers get torn away and the screw hole is stripped? We will go over 6 ways on how to fix a stripped screw holes.

Usually, these wood fibers get torn through wear and tear, or when a screw has been pulled out, dragging the wood it is wedged into with it. But what if you need to re-use that hole for a new screw?

If the hole is stripped, the new screw will be unable to properly wedge itself in, as it won’t have much to grab on too. So instead, you need to start by fixing the stripped screw hole!

There are a few different methods that you can use, and they all consist of adding new layers within the hole, that the new screw can wedge into.

Most of these methods are also fairly simple and can be done with at-home items, so let’s get started!

How To Fix Stripped Screw Holes (6 Techniques)

These are the top 6 methods that are typically used to fix a stripped screw hole. A lot of them can be done by using easy-to-find materials, which you might even have at home.

And all of them are easy and relatively fast fixes, so just try out the one that seems the most convenient to you!

Using a piece of wood

One of the easiest ways of fixing up a stripped screw hole is by using a piece, or several pieces, of wood. Ideally, you should use a piece of wood that is exactly the same as the wood you’re trying to put the screw into, as this will offer a much more seamless end result.

To do this, cut a piece of wood into small thin pieces, making sure that they’re as deep as the hole as they need to go the whole way down. You can use wood glue to ensure they stay inside the hole a lot firmer if you want.

Once the hole has been filled, the new screw will have a new surface of the wood to wedge into, allowing it to grasp onto the sides of the hole a lot better for a more secure finish.

Using a plastic wall plug

Plastic wall plugs are one of the best ways to fix a stripped screw hole, as they are incredibly durable, and they will keep the new screw in place without any issues whatsoever.

It might be that you were already using a plastic wall plug with the previous screw, in which case, you just need to replace the plastic wall plug with a brand new one.

If not, you might have to drill into the hole to make it slightly bigger, so that the plastic wall plug can be inserted properly. It can be used with any material whatsoever, so it’s one of the most versatile solutions!

This plastic plug will have a rugged inside, which allows the screw to wedge in place inside it, for a secure hold.

Using a screw hole repair kit

One of the easiest ways to fix a stripped screw hole is by using a screw hole repair kit, as it is specifically designed for this situation, and it will come with everything you need.

These kits will often also come with easy-to-follow instructions, making the whole process a lot easier and faster.

Usually, these kits will come with several items. They will often include some form of plastic or wood that can be used to plug up the hole, creating a gripping surface for the new screw to be tightly fitted in.

The downside is that you have to buy a screw hole repair kit, but they’re well worth it, especially if you work with screws often.

Using a toothpick or match

If you have toothpicks or matches at home, you might be able to solve the issue in a fast and easy way. These are pretty basic materials that are easy to have around the house, as they aren’t exactly specialized tools.

The aim is to essentially use them to fill up enough of the hole so that the screw can fit more tightly. Just fill up the hole, cut away any excess from the top, and maybe also use some wood glue to ensure everything remains firmly in place.

If you’re using matches, remember to cut off the heads before using them, as you don’t want to accidentally start a fire!

Then you can insert the screw, and it should work a lot better. However, this is a pretty quick fix that is better suited to amateur projects.

It probably isn’t a recommended solution for more professional uses of screws, as it’s not as durable as other ways of fixing the hole, and the screw will eventually become loose once more.

Using a wood dowel

Another method you can use to fix the stripped screw hole is using wood dowels. This is a more professional method, so it’s not as easy to do.

Essentially, you have to drill a hole into the wood that’s bigger than the screw. Then you take a wood dowel, which can be easily found in hardware or furniture stores, and you put it into the drilled hole to cover it completely.

You can use some wood glue for this, to keep it in place all the better. 

Now you’re left with a new smooth surface of wood, so you can create a new hole for your screw that will be a perfect fit.

Ideally, the wood dowel will be the same color as the rest of the wood. Otherwise, it might look a bit odd to have a differently colored patch!

Using larger screws

The main problem with a stripped screw hole is that it has become bigger, meaning that the new screw won’t be as well-fitted, and will be too loose to be secure.

So this solution is a pretty obvious one, and one of the easiest. Just use a bigger screw!

This way, the screw will be able to grasp onto the material, despite the pre-formed hole. You just need to make sure that the larger screw is equally useful to the intended use.

Especially if the screw won’t be visible, and therefore the appearance won’t matter at all.

Fixing stripped screw holes in wood:

Fixing a stripped screw hole in a wood surface is usually very simple.

Almost any method mentioned above will work to fix a stripped screw hole in wood, but the best method to use is using a piece of wood to fill in the hole.

This will give it the most seamless result and will offer the most secure grip for the new screw.

The only problem with fixing a hole in wood is that it can look pretty bad. A difference in the surface will be very visible on wood, so it’s always best to fix the hole using the exact same type of wood.

Another thing you should watch out for is the durability of the fix, as wood is a lot more prone to becoming worn over time, meaning it will need fixing more often.

Fixing stripped screw holes in metal:

When it comes to fixing a stripped screw hole in metal, you will usually have to resort to more professional methods, although some of the at-home solutions can work pretty well.

What we would advise against, is using wood to fix the hole, as it won’t be very effective. Instead, the best option is to use a plastic wall plug, as it is the best method for metal surfaces.

Alternatively, you could use a stripped screw hole repair kit that is specifically designed for metal, to ensure a professional and reliable result that is easy and fast to implement.

Fixing stripped screw holes in plastic: 

Fixing a stripped screw hole in plastic shouldn’t be too hard, and the best method to use is a plastic wall plug. Methods to avoid would be filling it up with wood, as the combination of materials won’t work out as effectively.

Another option would be to use a specialized stripped screw hole repair kit, one that has been designed for plastic surfaces.

This will be easy and fast to use, and will usually offer long-lasting and almost professional results, for an affordable price.

In conclusion

Stripped screw holes are sometimes unavoidable, as the wear and tear of the hole will eventually cause the screw to be poorly gripped, and unstable.

There are many ways of fixing up this problem, with some methods that use more professional tools, and others that are fast at-home fix-ups. You should always take into account the material that you’re working with.

For example, when fixing a hole in wood, it is best to use wood. While it’s better to use plastic with both plastic and metal surfaces.

The 6 methods that we listed, for fixing a stripped screw hole, are: using a piece of wood, using a plastic wall plug, using a specialized screw hole repair kit, using a toothpick or match, using a wood dowel, or simply using a larger screw that won’t have any issues with the size of the hole.

You can try out the one most convenient for you, depending on the material you’re working with, and the tools you have at hand.

And if you’re not sure about which one to use, then we recommend you simply go and buy a specialized repair kit, as it will usually come with detailed instructions and advice.

Check out our related article which is pretty much the opposite problem: how to removed stripped screws, 5 techniques.

Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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