If you are not sure whether to buy a corded drill or a cordless drill, then my guide will help you make that final buying decision. The final decision comes down to what you will regularly use the drill for. That is the most important consideration to understand. All tool brands that sell drills in the UK make both types, so don't worry there are plenty of models available of either type.

New users often mix up an impact driver as some type of drill. It isn't, and the impact driver is designed for driving long screws into wood for heavy duty work, such as building decks, putting up fences, raised beds etc.

Corded Drills

man using a bosch corded drill

Just for clarity, a corded drill is an electrical drill. To make it work, you have to plug it into a UK electrical socket. The only way to extend its reach is to use an extension lead. They are designed to drill holes of various sizes into different materials. The size of hole they can drill depends on the size of drill bit, or other attachments you can add, such as a drill hole saw attachment.

There are 3 main types of cordless drills:

  1. Standard Drills - These are general purpose drills used for drilling holes in wood, plastic, metal, and other materials. They have a chuck that takes a variety of drill bits and come with variable speed settings for different drilling needs.
  2. Hammer Drills: These are also known as percussion drills. These combine rotary drilling with a hammering action. They are designed for drilling into harder materials like concrete, brick, or stone. They have a hammering mechanism that helps to break up tough surfaces while drilling.
  3. Rotary Drills: These drills are designed for heavy duty drilling tasks. They accept larger drill bits and are mainly used in construction, woodworking, or metalworking for drilling large holes or for more demanding drilling jobs.

There are some other types with special applications. These include, right angle drills, magnetic drills, spade drills, SDS drills and impact drills. Those are really not for home use and belong in the world of engineering and construction.

Pros:

  • They are considerably cheaper than cordless drills in the UK because you don't have to buy a battery and charger.
  • They deliver more constant and guaranteed drilling power when compared to cordless drills.
  • They are considerably lighter than a cordless drill which can make a big difference.
  • They have a higher power output so a great deal better for heavy duty drilling such as drilling through brick or concrete.

Cons:

  • They are not suitable for driving in or removing screws.
  • They are slightly more dangerous to use because of the risk of tripping over the lead or snagging the lead
  • They are more difficult to use in small spaces or hard to reach areas 
  • They rely fully on electricity so not as portable as a cordless drill.

In summary, corded drills have reliable power and deliver high performance drilling. That makes them suitable for heavy duty drilling jobs. On the downside, their limited mobility and dependency on a power source can be restrictive in certain situations.

What is often misunderstood, is that corded drills do not have torque controls. As such they can't be used for driving in screws. If you try to use them for that, the likelihood is, you will just strip the head of the screw.

Corded drills in the UK cost from around £20-£70 depending on brand and model. When you compare that to a cordless drill the prices range from £70-£300+. That's a really big difference and worth thinking about.

Who should consider buying a corded drill?

  1. Professional Contractors: Many peoples working on construction sites or anyone who regularly has to do heavy duty drilling will prefer corded drills due to their consistent power output. Corded drills generally provide higher torque and sustained power. That makes them a better choice for drilling through tough materials like concrete, metal, tiles, or hardwood for longer periods without needing a recharge.
  2. DIYers and Homeowners: If like me, you work on a lot of home improvement projects and enjoy DIY, I will use a corded drill for any type of masonry work. This includes drilling holes for wall plugs, drilling holes for cables and pipes. A cordless drill can still do this, a corded one is just faster.
  3. On a Tight Budget: Corded drills are much cheaper compared to the cordless options of similar power and quality. If your main focus is on power and performance for drilling tasks, a corded drill is a more budget-friendly option.
  4. Heavy Duty Drilling: Tasks involving any type of tough drilling such as through masonry, concrete, or metal require sustained power, which corded drills can provide more consistently compared to many cordless options.
  5. Portability: Corded drills are limited by the length of their power cord, so they are ideal for tasks near power outlets. With an extension lead, they can reach a good distance. For users working at home or in their garage or shed, an electrical outlet should be accessible. In that case, mobility might not be a concern, making corded drills a suitable choice.

Who shouldn't consider buying a corded drill?

  1. DIYers with minimal drilling needs: For occasional or light drilling tasks around the house, a corded drill is unnecessary. A cordless drill could suffice for light DIY projects without the need for constant power and higher torque. They also allow you to drive in and remove screws, making the cordless drill/driver a much better option.
  2. Locations: If you want unrestricted movement or need to work in locations without power outlets, a corded drill is useless. In such cases, a cordless drill powered by batteries would be a more suitable choice.
  3. Dangling Cords: The electrical lead can really niggle at certain individuals. They can really limit your movement and can get constantly snagged up on objects. If you are not a patient person think cordless.

Cordless Drills

man using a bosch cordless drill

Just for clarity, a cordless drill is one that operates off a battery. The battery can be recharged and to achieve that you also need a charger.

There are 3 main types of cordless drills:

  1. Drill/Driver: This is the most popular type in the UK. That is because it is a versatile tool for both drilling holes and driving screws. It's the most common type of cordless drill, suitable for general-purpose tasks in woodworking, construction, and DIY projects.
  2. Hammer Drill: This type has a drilling and hammering action, ideal for drilling into harder materials like masonry, concrete, and brick. The hammer function provides additional force for tougher tasks.
  3. Rotary Hammer Drill:  These are suitable for heavy duty drilling in masonry, concrete, and stone. It uses a hammering action to break up tough surfaces while drilling.

There are some other types with special applications. These include, right angle drills, SDS drills, impact drills etc. Again these are not required in the home and are used by professionals in the trades, construction and engineering.

Pros:

  • They are best for home owners and DIYers as they can drill and also drive in and remove screws of all types.
  • They are much easier to use as they give you freedom of movement.
  • They can be used anywhere so location is not an issue and you don't have to rely on a power socket or extension leads.
  • They are powerful enough to do practically every single job around the home.

Cons:

  • They are more expensive than a corded drill as you have to by a battery and charger
  • They are heavier than a corded drill because of the weight of the battery.
  • The battery will lose power and will need to be recharged which can get really frustrating. Even with faster charging technology, users might still experience downtime waiting for batteries to recharge
  • Having to buy spare batteries or higher-capacity batteries can add to the overall cost.

In summary, cordless drills have enough power and deliver a sound performance for both drilling and drilling. On the downside, they tend to be more expensive and heavier than the corded option.

Corded drills in the UK cost from around £20-£70 depending on brand and model. When you compare that to a cordless drill the prices range from £70-£300+. That's a really big difference and worth thinking about.

Who should consider buying a cordless drill?

  1. DIYers -  If you do DIY projects around the home or undertake various tasks such as assembling furniture, hanging shelves, or drilling holes in walls, then the cordless drill is the one to buy
  2. Contractors and Trades - Professionals in fields such as construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, etc need the flexibility and portability offered by cordless drills on job sites where power outlets might not be easily accessible.
  3. Homeowners and Handymen - Homeowners who make occasional repairs, do some renovations, or  a few maintenance tasks can find cordless drills handy for a wide range of jobs, from simple fixes to more involved projects.
  4. Locations - If you need to work in various locations or move around frequently while working, such as installers, builders, or technicians, benefit from the cordless drill's portability without relying on a power source.
  5. Convenience - They're useful for smaller, quick jobs where setting up a corded tool can take longer.
  6. Working in Tight Spaces - The compact size and maneuverability of cordless drills make them ideal for working in confined spaces where corded tools might be cumbersome or difficult to maneuver.
  7. Easy to Use - Cordless drills are user-friendly and easy to operate, making them suitable for beginners or individuals who prefer tools that are simple and straightforward to use.

Who shouldn't consider buying a cordless drill?

  1. Infrequent Users: If you only need a drill for one or two small projects and don’t anticipate using it regularly, it is a better idea to rent or borrow one rather than purchasing one.
  2. Heavy Duty Use: For heavy duty or continuous use in industrial settings, where a cordless drill’s battery life might not be enough for the workload, a corded drill might be more suitable.
  3. Environmental Concerns: For users who are environmentally conscious and want to avoid dealing with battery disposal or prefer tools with lower environmental impact, a corded drill might be a preferable option.

My Final Thoughts

I do a lot of work around the home and also for other people. I own a corded and a cordless drill. I use the corded drill for drilling into masonry as it is just more powerful and faster. For everything else, I use my corded drill. 

My advice is buy a cordless drill with 2 batteries and a charger. That means you ca have one battery charging while you use the other one. Only ever buy a corded drill if you need to regularly drill hard materials. If you want to read more, I suggest that you read my drill buying guide for UK readers.

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