Hammered Lag Bolts Vs. Smooth: Which Is Right for You?

Are you a new homeowner overwhelmed with renovations? Do you find yourself in the home improvement stores wondering what a lag bolt is? And where someone with real knowledge might be to help you?

The past few years have seen major growth in homeownership and renovations. There's also been growth in redesigning and rebuilding. This causes many people to wonder what materials they need to create the project of their dreams. 

People are spending more time in their homes. They are looking to create the perfect interior decor to combat their chaotic lives. If this sounds like you or someone you know, you need to keep reading.

You may be a contractor, always up against decorative decisions. You could be an interior decorator trying to explain to a client why oil-rubbed bronze bolts look better.

No matter who you are, you're not alone in trying to figure out the best materials and products to use. If you don't have professional training, how do you know which of these options is right?

Do you need help deciding how you want your space to look? Debating between different styles? Old West Iron has the professional advice you seek. This outline will help make all these decisions easier for you.

If you're frustrated or stuck anywhere in your building process, don't give up yet. This guide will explore the different options of bolts and the benefits of each for your project. 

Why You Need to Know This Information

Below, we'll go through everything you need to know about lag bolts and how to select the right ones. You must understand what these materials are best used for. This is to ensure your project is secure and looks the way you want it to. 

The final look will depend on many factors, including bolt head shape, style, and finish. There are several questions to consider as you make these decisions. 

Start with what you are building and what you will need to support. What kind of weight will this hold? What is the purpose of the final product? 

In general, building materials are getting more expensive. It's important to be ready with all the knowledge you can before placing a supply order. 

Doing your own research can be an effective method, but you don't have to! Here, you will find all the essential information for understanding and selecting the most appropriate lag bolts.

The Basics of Lag Bolts

They're called lag bolts because of their original use in securing barrel staves, or lags. These are the wood pieces that form a barrel for holding large amounts of heavy liquid.

Also referred to as lag screws, these specific bolts are meant to hold materials together that will carry an intense load. In a more modern sense, think of decks or roofs as good uses for these bolts. These are very large screws used for bigger, longer-lasting builds.

Unlike other types of screws, they don't need an additional nut to be secure. Their strength can be credited to their size but also to the thickness of and distance between the threads. 

They have a large, thick head that protrudes from the building material. There are some techniques for making the head flush with the material, like creating a well for the head to fit into.

As their use has become more common, the decorative bolt head style has also evolved. Now, lag bolts are available in a variety of shapes and finishes.

Hex lag bolts have six-sided heads and can be installed with a wrench or screwdriver. They are available in a smooth or hammered style.

Squarehead lag bolt heads are available in smooth, hammered, or the classic pyramid square. Here, the sides come up flat and level off at the top. 

Hammered heads have indented spots that make it look like they got hit by a small hammer. They are very popular these days because they fit well with a rustic style.

They can all come in black, gunmetal, rusty metal patina, oil-rubbed bronze, and more. If you're wondering which is the right one for your project, read on.

But Which Should You Use?

The style of lag bolt you use depends on the specifics of your project. Are you building a shed or redesigning a living room? What material are you using?

These important questions will impact the choice of lag bolt you should make. Consider that hex bolts are best used with wood, and square bolts are used for thicker material.

Hex head lag bolts can indeed be used with concrete or steel materials, but we recommend using masonry support in this case. This will further secure your build and ensure stability. 

Even the choice of finish should depend on their use. Are the bolts decorative, or will they serve an essential function? If the bolt head faces outside, it should be finished in a rust-resistant material.

You also want to consider the decorative style of the project. Will the bolt heads be visible once the project is complete? Is it more vintage or modern? 

Once you have these answers, you'll need to get the right bolt size in the style you want. Old West Iron makes lag bolts as small as 3/4" and as large as 24". Use our Live Chat feature or give us a call to nail down which specific lag bolt will be best for you. 

Hammered Lag Bolts vs. Smooth

Now that you know all the basics about lag bolts and how to use them, it's time to decide which style to go with. The first step here is to decide if you want a hammered look or a smooth look on the head of the lag bolts. Keep in mind the general style you are going for.

Smooth is exactly as it sounds, glossy and flat in a square or hexagonal shape. A hammered style has little indents on the surface and tends to look a little more handmade and rustic.

You can do either style in either shape. The hammered style is more popular due to a desire to create more organic-looking spaces. 

Smooth lag bolts are often seen in more industrial spaces. Of course, any style can be perfect if it fits your vision for the project.

No matter which you choose, you should put extra thought into the decorative style of the lag bolts you pick. This is an important element of the decision process and your project at large. 

Why Decorative Bolts are Important

Decorative bolts are important for many reasons. Primarily, since the head usually sticks out from the building material, it is easily seen once the project is complete. 

Most likely, you will use many lag bolts in your project. Seeing all their heads will impact the style or look you end up with. With so many bolts in use, you'll want to get the same style for your whole project.

Generally, using a consistent style of lag bolts will improve the look of your space. Or you may want to switch it up within one room or home, so making sure they look nice together is also important. 

Take a look at some of our Hex Lag Screws, and you will see many different styles that would match well together. Some hammered and some smooth can add variety, and enhance the hand-built feel of your project. 

You can get creative in your use of lag bolts such that their visual presence adds great detail to your space. Bringing metallic elements into the decor of a room or home is quite popular these days. Using the right decorative lag bolts can take your project to the next level. 

At Old West Iron, we are proud of the variety of lag bolts we offer. We would love to help you figure out how they can enhance your current project.

The next decision you need to make about which bolts to choose is the finish, or the outer coating of the metal. This is critical because it will affect the final look of your build. 

The Best Finishes 

There are many finishes to choose from when placing your lag bolt supply order with Old West Iron. A finish is an outer coating applied to the iron that adds protection or color. This could be scratch resistance or an orange hue. Below are the finishes available for lag bolts at Old West Iron.

A raw finish is when the metal is not treated, but we recommend adding your own finish if you select this option. Oil-rubbed bronze or pewter (or aged bronze or pewter) is when wax containing whichever extra metal coats the iron. This is best suited for hammered lag bolts. 

For a red-toned finish, we would recommend the rusty metal patina. Gunmetal finish reveals a mix of blues and browns and becomes scratch resistant. To achieve a black finish, you could paint the metal a flat black or use a wrought iron patina acid wash. 

Of all these choices, we believe the black and oil-rubbed bronze lag bolts look best. These colors are classic and will look good in nearly any space or building. 

Whether you are a do-it-yourself homeowner or a hired contractor, Old West Iron has the building supplies you need to fit the exact style you have in mind. Now that you know what to look for, keep in mind the important things to avoid. 

What to Avoid

There are a few key things you want to avoid when selecting lag bolts for your project. First, you want to avoid bolts that will not fit your purpose. You can't install 3/4" screws to support your new deck, so use the size of the bolt as a starting point. 

You want to steer clear of bolts with any numbers or markings on the head. These are generally not regarded as nice looking in a final build. 

If there are markings or numbers on the head of a lug bolt, it also may not take the finish in a smooth way. This can affect the color or style of the bolt.

These may be common with other supplies, but Old West Iron never sells lag bolts with these ugly marks. We will always ensure that all lag bolts come in the exact style you desire.

Your Next Steps 

Once you have made all these essential decisions, review the answers to all your questions: 

What are you building?

What kind of load will it bear?

What size(s) lag bolts do you need?

What style are you going for?

What do you want to be the final look of the project?

What finish do you want to choose? 

Do you want to have multiple styles? 

Finally, it's time to determine how large of an order you need to place. 

By using or creating an architectural map of your project, you can figure out what number of lag bolts to order. Seasoned builders would tell you to always order more than you think you need, to be safe. 

Next, you should reference our Fastener Installation Guide for specific instructions on how to install your lag bolts. Making sure you have the right tools will ensure that your build goes smoothly. 

Old West Iron will be there for you during every stage of your project. We can help you make the tough decisions about which lag bolts to use, and show you how to use them.  

Check out all the products that we offer and place your lag bolt order with us today.

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