AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Are Metal Washers?

Metal washers are typically small and resemble flat metal discs that have a hole in their center which allows them to be placed on the rod of a bolt or screw. They are commonly used as a spacer, a method of absorbing shock, and/or for distributing the load of a fastener. For their proven durability and strength, metals like galvanized carbon steel or stainless steel are often used, but washers made of other metals are also available. Depending on the material used, as well as the design, these washers can be made to suit a variety of specialized applications and unique environments.

How Are They Used?

One common use for metal washers is load distribution. Most fasteners without a washer will tend to stress the surface they are mounted to, causing cracks, impressions, or other marks from wear. By placing a metal washer onto a bolt for example, the force exerted on the fastener will be distributed across a wider surface area than the head of the bolt alone, reducing the risk of wear. Another common use for washers is to add space between a fastener and the surface of a material. If a piece of hardware is longer than the depth of the hole in which it is meant to be driven, a spacer can be used to fill the gap and better secure the piece within its housing.

Types of Metal Washers

Metal washers can accomplish all these tasks and more because they come in a variety of types and dimensions capable of fitting an array of tasks. Below is a list of some common types of metal washers available:

Lock Washers: Lock washers are very useful for their ability to firmly lock nuts and bolts in place. They are available in many forms with split lock washers being the most common. These washers are split so that they can be tightened with two ends overlapping to add greater friction. Other forms of lock washers can have teeth either on their outer perimeter or inside the hole at their center to firmly grip a bolt or the surface they are driven into.

Plain Washers: A“plain washer” is a catch-all term for many different shapes of washers that have a relatively simple design, such as fender washers which have a wider diameter in comparison to their hole. They may be larger, thicker, countersunk, or any other other variation on a simple looped design.

Multiple Hole Washers: Multiple hole washers exist to replace two plain washers in areas where they would be seated very close to one another. They may consist of a small metal sheet with several holes in it which match the pre-drilled holes on the surface below.

Spring Washers: Spring washers have ends that are slightly raised, creating a conical shape, to produce spring tension. They are placed above or below a nut or bolt so that when the nut or bolt is tightened, the raised and lowered ends become level. This adds greater tension to the fastener head and surface below to prevent the fastener from loosening.

Square Washers: As their name implies, square washers have a very simple design with their only unique characteristic being that they have a square, rather than round, shape. This difference in shape makes for an even wider surface area that can better distribute a heavy load.


Metal washers are effective pieces of hardware to be used along with a fastener for a more secure fit or to minimize the risk of damaging a surface. On Fasteners 360, we offer a robust inventory of hardware and other parts at aviation and military grade quality. If any of our items pique your interest, we invite you to complete the Instant Request For Quote (RFQ) form available on our website. By providing information about your specific needs, our team can formulate and send a competitive quote catered to your situation in just 15 minutes or less!


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