Deck screws replacement
May 7, 2022 2:44 PM   Subscribe

A piece of wood decking warped and popped up at an end. My intent was to replace the screws at the popped-up end with longer screws to unwarp the wood, but I discovered that the the screws had corroded and broke off in the pressure-treated joists. And then I removed the piece of decking, I discovered half of the screws holding it down had corroded and were broken (they just spun when I tried to unscrew them). How do I fix this?

The deck is about 5 years old on an upstairs roof deck, with multiple palettes made of pressure treated wood and the decking of garapa wood screwed to the palettes.

The original screws are #8x2.5" non-stainless steel, with a small head (I've seen screws with heads like that called "trim screws").

The first thing I'm thinking of doing is using stainless steel screws to prevent corrosion in the new screws. The second thing I'm thinking of doing is using thicker #10 screws.

How do I handle the broken off screws in the joists? If I use the same drill holes where the screws corroded and broke, any new screw is going to hit the old screw. I suppose I could use shorter screws that won't hit the old screws, and as long as half of the new screws are the right length, I would hope the decking would be held down well enough.

I could put the new screws at new points on the decking to avoid hitting the old screw in the joists, but that wouldn't be very pleasing aesthetically.

Any suggestions on how to fix this so it looks decent?

And although no other piece of decking has had the issue of an end popping up, just testing a few screws shows that on other decking pieces some screws are just spinning when I tried to extract them, so the corrosion problem is spread across the deck, so I imagine the best plan in the long run would be to replace every screw.
posted by ShooBoo to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Take the pieces of wood up and reverse them lengthwise. Assuming that the screws aren't the same exact distance from both ends, flipping the boards around will give you clean wood under every old hole if your underlayment is there. You could also explore variants of this like swapping the boards with each other if the screws aren't in a perfect grid, etc.

If that doesn't work, can you drive the new screws in in the old holes, but at an angle? This will require pre-drilling a small hole at an angle to give the new screw a path. By the time it gets to the depth of the old screw it hopefully won't be at a place where it would hit the remnants. It won't be aesthetically perfect since the screwhead would be at a slight angle, but it's better than a new hole in the deck everytime you want a new screw. Garapa is hard though, this might be a huge pain so I'd experiment before committing to it.
posted by true at 2:59 PM on May 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

They make screw extractors for just such a problem. They fit into a drill bit like a drill but they have a reverse cut on the end. See if that may work for you.
posted by jtexman1 at 4:27 PM on May 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sounds like someone used the wrong screws — probably they used screws that were not designed to be used with ACQ (copper) treated wood, which is unfortunately a common problem, as the screws that did work with the older wood treatment chemicals end up corroding quickly with the newer ACQ. Stainless is good, but you don't need to go to #10 (or you can just use proper decking screws for ACQ lumber).

Assuming you are going to take up all the decking boards, you could simply offset all the boards from one end, e.g. by ripping an inch or two off the first board. Then all the screw holes will be offset. Details would depend on what the edge of your deck looks like.
posted by ssg at 4:47 PM on May 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Depending on the pattern of decking boards and how they relate to the framing underneath, you might be able to just take up two random similar boards and swap them so the screw locations shift slightly.

Be careful with the stainless screws. They’re corrosion resistant, but also softer and easier to break off by overtorquing them.
posted by jon1270 at 5:22 PM on May 7, 2022

Best answer: I used the Camo tool and screws to fasten down my decking boards. The tool is a jig that grabs onto a decking board and provides guides to let you predrill then drive in screws at an angle, just below the two outer corners of the board. The special screws are very small and not noticeable unless you’re looking for them.

Depending on where exactly the current screws are, you should be able to clip the Camo tool down right on top of them and put in the angled corner screws without removing anything and without hitting the old screw shafts. You could just leave the current screw heads in place for the look or replace with whatever cosmetic plugs or short screws you like.
posted by pocams at 8:13 PM on May 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Another vote for the Camo system. I've done a bunch of Ipe decking with it. You're using know good screws, don't have to worry about the existing holes, it does in quickly without pre-drilling.
posted by straw at 10:38 PM on May 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Looks like Camo would be the best option. It does require a $50 investment in the jig, but it looks simple to use and avoids any issues with the existing screws, broken off or not.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:31 AM on May 8, 2022

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