When to Use Rivets Instead of Bolts, plus Brighton-Best Selection Guide

When to Use Rivets Instead of Bolts, plus Brighton-Best Selection Guide

Curious when a rivet is the right option over a bolt or screw? You’ve seen them on heavy-duty structures like bridges, skyscrapers and ships, and for good reason. Rivets have been the go-to fastener for centuries for their sheer holding power and durability. While they may not be as widely used today, thanks in part to technological advancements like the high-strength bolt, they remain an inexpensive and reliable choice in metal joint assembly.

In the past, rivets were used primarily in heavy industrial fastening applications. Today, they are used in a variety of projects including:

  • Aerospace manufacturing
  • CNC machining
  • Micro-electronics
  • Woodworking
  • Residential and commercial construction
  • At-home applications like door and ceiling installation

Are rivets better than bolts in your joint assembly?

If you break it down, the function of a rivet is very similar to that of a nut and bolt, with a few exceptions. While both types of fastening systems can offer strong connection points, rivets are designed for permanent or semi-permanent joints whereas bolts can be unscrewed and then reassembled. To break the connection point of a rivet, it must be damaged and cannot be reused.

The benefit of using a rivet is that it creates a strong and reliable joint even in high vibratory conditions. The downside is that it cannot be easily disassembled and must be drilled out to remove. That’s good news if you want a long-lasting joint that can resist vibration and be used in both high-tension and shear loads, but bad news if the joint needs to be disassembled for repair or replacement.

Additionally, riveting may be the right solution for your mechanical fastening needs if you are unable to access the other side of the joined surface, otherwise known as the blind.


What are the most common types of rivets and rivet tools?

No matter the job, there’s likely a rivet that can meet your needs. Cost and strength requirements are among the top considerations, but size does matter as well. In fact, choosing the wrong size for the application can lead to joint instability and failure.

Common types of rivets include solid rivets, high strength structural steel rivets, blind rivets, drive rivets, countersunk rivets and flush rivets, but there are countless options to choose from. We carry many different types of riveting tools and rivets for every need, including those made from steel, aluminum and stainless steel.

  • Blind Rivets
    Otherwise known as POP rivets, these are ideal for use when there is limited or no access to the rear or blind side of the joined parts.
  • Multi-Grip Rivets
    Multi-grip rivets offer flexibility in applications that require materials of various thickness or in rivets of multiple sizes.
  • Pin-Drive Rivets
    Pin-drive rivets are ideal when there is limited access to the joined parts and can be used in through-holes or closed-end holes.
  • Solid Rivets
    Solid rivets are ideal for use in permanent fastening applications and offer reliability, durability and strength.
  • Back Up Rivet Washers
    Back up rivet washers are to be used with blind rivets to create a larger surface area and prevent pull-through as it distributes force and pressure over a larger space.
  • Rivet Guns
    Rivet guns are available in a variety of application styles including manual and cordless as well as hydraulic and pneumatic rivet guns.

We’re proud to partner with Brighton-Best International, manufacturer of some of the world’s most reliable fasteners. Learn more about their most common rivets below or download their conversion chart on their most common rivet selections. Download conversion chart here.


We carry everything for your company’s maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) applications including fasteners from top-rated brands like Brighton-Best, Lake Erie Screw Corp, Nucor Fastener, Lindstrom Metric, Stanley Black & Decker, Auveco, Chicago Hardware and more. If you have questions on how Superior can help you improve operations with better performing products, stop into our St. Louis location, or call 314-638-6500 OPTION 4.

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