Although riveting was developed for fastening metalwork together, rivets are now used to hold nearly every type of material together, including fabric and plastic. Because of this, several different types of rivets have been developed for affixing different materials, and some of them are not appropriate for use in sheet metal work. The type of rivet metalworkers use depends upon the fastening situation and design specifications of the project riveted.
Domed rivets are the classic metal working rivet. Domed rivets feature a rounded, domed head, that protrudes from the fastened metal after riveting. Installing domed rivets may require two people, with one operating a rivet hammer to drive the hardware, with the other holding a bucking bar on the backside that flattens the rear of the rivet so that it cannot be pulled back out from the hole punched by the rivet hammer.
Although many types of rivets require two pieces of hardware, a rivet hammer and a bucking bar for installation, blind rivets were developed for situations when sheet metal workers don't have the space or the ability to reach both sides of the piece. Instead of requiring a bucking board behind the riveted material to flatten the rivet's backside, a mandrel is attached to the rivet that, when installed, pulls back, flattening the backside of the rivet. Blind rivets may be installed by one person with a rivet gun in tight quarters. In many cases, most riveting work is done with blind rivets because of their ease of installation.
With a tubular rather than solid shaft, tubular rivets are designed to be easier to install than traditional solid rivets. After the rivet is inserted, its tubular shaft rolls backward to lock the rivet in place, a manipulation that requires significantly less force than flattening a solid rivet's head. Tubular rivets aren't as structurally strong as solid rivets, however.
Domed rivets' heads leave small bumps on the surface of the metal they affix themselves. In most cases, the rivet head doesn't interfere with design purposes. When a flush fixture is needed, countersunk rivets are used, as their heads sink into the sheet metal rather than remaining exposed on top of the metal.
When sheet metal work requires a watertight or airtight seal around the rivet, sealed rivets are employed. These rivets feature an expanding backside that widens to the width of the hole punched by the rivet hammer, perfectly filling the rivet hole and delivering an impenetrable seal in the process.