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Bolts vs. Rivets: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
Bolts are metal fasteners with a threaded shaft and are used with nuts, while rivets are metal pins with a head that are deformed to hold materials together.

Key Differences

Bolts are designed for assembling and disassembling, requiring a nut for fastening, making them ideal for temporary or adjustable joints. Rivets, however, create permanent joints by deforming the shank, typically using a rivet gun.
Bolts are commonly used in situations where maintenance or disassembly is expected, like in machinery or construction. Rivets are preferred in high-stress applications where disassembly is not intended, such as in aircraft or bridges.
Installing a bolt involves aligning and threading a nut onto the shaft, which can be done with basic tools. Riveting requires special tools to deform the rivet and is usually a faster but more permanent process.
Bolts can bear significant loads and are easily replaceable, making them versatile. Rivets offer superior strength and durability in shear and tension, making them ideal for structural applications.
Bolts come in various sizes and types, like hex bolts or carriage bolts, offering flexibility in usage. Rivets also come in different types, like pop rivets or solid rivets, each suited to specific applications.

Comparison Chart


Temporary or adjustable joints
Permanent joints


Requires a nut, can be tightened or loosened
Deformed to create a permanent bond

Tools Required

Basic hand tools, wrenches
Specialized tools, like a rivet gun


Machinery, construction, where disassembly is possible
Aircraft, bridges, where no disassembly is expected


High, adjustable tension
Extremely strong, especially in shear


Can be removed or adjusted
Permanent, cannot be adjusted or removed

Material Thickness

Suitable for varying thicknesses
Best for thin materials or sheet metal

Repair and Maintenance

Easier to replace or repair
Difficult to remove or repair


Generally cheaper, reusable
Cost-effective for permanent installations

Bolts and Rivets Definitions


A bolt is a metal bar that slides into a socket to fasten doors or gates.
She slid the bolt across to lock the door.


A rivet is a short metal pin or bolt for holding together two plates of metal.
He used a rivet to join the metal sheets.


In athletics, a bolt refers to a sudden dash or run.
The runner made a bolt for the finish line.


Rivets are also used metaphorically to describe something that fixes or secures.
Her gaze was riveted on the painting.


A bolt can be a roll of fabric or canvas.
They unrolled a bolt of linen for the tablecloths.


Rivets can refer to something that attracts and completely engrosses attention.
The movie's plot was riveting.


In electrical terms, a bolt refers to a sudden discharge of lightning.
A bolt of lightning lit up the night sky.


In engineering, rivets are used to connect heavy steel sections.
The bridge's structure was reinforced with steel rivets.


A bolt is a threaded fastener used with a nut.
He tightened the bolt to secure the shelf.


In fashion, a rivet is a small metal stud or fastener used on denim jeans.
The rivets added strength to the denim pockets.


A bar made of wood or metal that slides into a socket and is used to fasten doors and gates.


A metal bolt or pin having a head on one end, inserted through aligned holes in the pieces to be joined and then hammered on the plain end so as to form a second head.


A metal bar or rod in the mechanism of a lock that is thrown or withdrawn by turning the key.


To fasten or secure, especially with a rivet or rivets.


To hammer and bend or flatten the headless end of (a nail or bolt) so as to fasten something.


To fix the attention of (someone)
The audience was riveted by the suspense.


To engross or hold (the gaze or attention, for example).


Plural of rivet


Infl of rivet


What is a rivet?

A rivet is a metal pin used for joining two pieces of metal or other material.

Can bolts be reused?

Yes, bolts can be unscrewed and reused.

What tools are needed for bolts?

Wrenches or spanners are typically used for tightening bolts.

Are rivets reusable?

No, once installed, rivets are not reusable as they are deformed during installation.

Are bolts suitable for permanent fixtures?

Bolts can be used for permanent fixtures but are best where disassembly is a possibility.

What is a bolt?

A bolt is a threaded fastener used with a nut for assembling components.

What tools are needed for rivets?

Rivets require a rivet gun or similar tool for installation.

Why are rivets preferred in aircraft construction?

Rivets are preferred in aircraft for their strength and ability to handle stress without loosening.

Can bolts be tightened after installation?

Yes, bolts can be tightened or adjusted after installation.

Can rivets be tightened or adjusted?

No, rivets cannot be adjusted once installed.

Do bolts require a pre-drilled hole?

Yes, bolts require a hole for the shaft and a nut on the other side.

Do rivets require a pre-drilled hole?

Yes, rivets require a hole to be placed through the materials being joined.

Are bolts affected by vibration?

Bolts can loosen over time with vibration, requiring periodic tightening.

What materials can bolts be made of?

Bolts can be made of steel, stainless steel, brass, or other metals.

Can bolts be used underwater?

Yes, specially designed bolts can be used in underwater applications.

Are rivets affected by vibration?

Rivets are resistant to vibration and less likely to loosen.

Are rivets suitable for underwater use?

Rivets can be used underwater, especially if they are made of corrosion-resistant materials.

How do you remove a bolt?

Bolts can be removed by unscrewing the nut and withdrawing the bolt.

What materials are rivets made of?

Rivets are commonly made of steel, aluminum, or copper.

How do you remove a rivet?

Removing a rivet usually involves drilling it out or grinding off its head.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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