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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > Buying Guides > Choosing The Right Fastener: Nuts and Bolts

Choosing The Right Fastener: Nuts and Bolts

Most clichés have their origins in history or fact. The phrase "nuts and bolts" is no exception.

Used as a foundation or to hold things together, nuts and bolts are essential, especially in home improvement projects. To make the package complete, we've added washers to this guide. Choose the correct fasteners for your project. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Before You Buy

Before choosing any type of fastener, ask yourself:

  • What materials need to be joined? Bolts are usually the fastener of choice for metal although some bolts are made for other applications. For other fastening options see Fastening to Walls and Ceilings and Choosing the Right Fastener: Nails and Screws.
  • What is the thickness of the material to be joined? For a secure connection, the fastener must be the correct length.
  • What are the weight and strength requirements? From securing structural steel to working on crafts and hobbies, there's a fastener for every job.
  • Will the work be indoors or outdoors? There are specific fasteners and finishes for both applications. Choose plated fasteners for outdoor use.


Bolts have blunt tips (unlike the pointed tips of screws) and require a nut to make a secure connection. They can be tightened by wrenches, nutdrivers or screwdrivers, depending on the head configuration of the bolt. Bolt size is measured in length.


Description and Use


Carriage Bolt

  • Head is rounded and has no slots
  • Under the head is a square "shoulder" that's countersunk to keep the bolt from turning when the nut is tightened
  • One of the few bolts designed for use with wood
  • Used where a protruding head is not desirable
Carriage bolt.

Stove Bolt

  • Head is slotted and may be round, flat or oval
  • Has threads the entire length of the bolt
  • Used as a general utility bolt
Stove bolt.

Machine Bolt

  • Has a hex head
  • Designed to be applied with a wrench or socket/ratchet
  • Threaded a portion of its length or the entire length
  • Used as a general utility bolt
Machine bolt.

Threaded Rod or All-Thread

  • Has no head
  • Available in lengths up to 3' long
  • Can be to cut to length with a hacksaw
  • Requires nuts at both ends
  • Ends are usually concealed with caps or plugs
  • Used when additional length is needed
Treaded Rod or All-Thread.

U-bolt, J-bolt, Eyebolt

  • Have no heads
  • Used as a support for hanging items
U-bolt, J-bolt, eyebolt.

Washers and Nuts

The complete fastening system consists of a bolt, a washer and a nut. The key to success is matching the right components to the project at hand.


Description and Use


Flat Washer

  • Available in various thicknesses and diameters
  • Serves to prevent bolt heads from pulling through the material, to increase the tightness of a fastener or to prevent friction or leaking
  • Size is determined by the inner diameter
  • Size of the fastener head determines the washer size needed
Flat washers.

Lock Washer

  • Has teeth either on the inside or the outside to prevent the loosening of a fastener
Lock washers.

Hex or Square Nut

  • Most common nut
  • Generally has square or hex-shaped head and is available in many variations of thickness and finish
Hex and square nuts.

Lock Nut

  • Has hex head
  • Available with threaded nylon inserts to prevent loosening
Hex and square nuts.

Wing Nut

  • Designed to be tightened or loosened by hand
  • Useful for material that will be regularly removed or replaced
Wing nuts.
Shop All Fasteners

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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