If you want your deck to last, you need the highest quality materials available. As such, you want the best deck screws on the market along with your top-of-the-line decking boards and finish. However, deck screws come in all shapes, sizes, heads, and material construction, leading many people to wonder which one is the best.
The best deck screws for your deck boards can vary based on the type of boards you have and the weather conditions your deck will face. That said, most experts agree that the following 3 deck screws will work in most situations:
- Star Drive Tan Fence & Deck Screws
- Stainless Steel Camo Deck Screw
- Star Flat Head Composite Deck Screws
While these screws are the best screws for most decks, they have their downsides. Therefore, by reading further, you will learn how to shop for deck screws and how to ensure their longevity and reliability.
How Do I Choose Deck Screws?
Combined with the wide variety of brands and options, choosing the right screws can be as challenging as choosing the right decking boards if not more so. Luckily, you can cut through the noise by considering a few key features and factors.
- Material and Coating – stainless steel, carbon-alloy steel – chosen based on water and rust resistance
- Head Style –flathead, trim, truss, hex – the best will mesh with your deck design
- Drive Type – slotted, Phillips, Torx (star), Hex, Robertson (square) – grip strength, torque, driving power, personal preferences
- Thread – normal, coarse – need the right threads per inch for driving the screw into your deck boards
- Length – 1 ½ to 6 inches depending on the size of your deck boards, railings, posts, and joists
- Usage – different parts of your deck may require different screws
What Kind of Screws to Use for Decking?
Most of the time, you will want 2 ½-inch to 3-inch stainless steel deck screws. The rust-resistant screws are very durable and will not corrode and stain your wood.
However, they are not the only screws you will need for your deck. Each component may require a specific screw, such as lag screws for your posts and railings. Beyond that, your local climate may also dictate if carbon-alloy, aluminum, or galvanized screws would be more appropriate.
Finally, you want screws that are easy to install. For most people, that will be either Phillips or Torx-headed screws. Everyone has a Phillips screwdriver lying around, but Torx offers greater grip and durability.
Do I Need to Predrill for Deck Screws?
Predrilling your deck boards can protect them from splitting under the stress of your screws. The screws act like wedges as they drive through the wood fibers. That stress rips the wood along its grains until it weakens and breaks. Predrilling creates room for the screws, reducing this stress.
Fortunately, you only need to predrill if you screw within about 2 inches from an end. In the middle of the field, there is enough wood surrounding the hold to counter the screw’s pressure. The counter pressure keeps the wood intact without needing additional support.
However, this only applies to a softwood such as pine or spruce. Ipe and other types of hardwood are a bit more brittle and normally do require pre-drilling. Even then, there might be ways to reduce the need to predrill your dreck.
For instance, you must predrill dry softwood. Freshly un-tarped “wet wood”, or wood from a lumber yard, is highly elastic. Screws can pass through it without tearing, but dry wood is a different story. The lack of moisture makes the wood brittle and prone to cracking.
Other Ways to Reduce the Need to Predrill
Using fresh softwood is not the only way you can reduce your need to predrill. You just need to follow the following tips:
- Overhang the decking boards – provides structural support while minimizing water damage with a nice finish
- Apply a blocking to butt joints – reduces the stress on the joints
- Use larger boards and transitions – eliminates joints and other potential points of failure
- Backspin the screws – stabilizes the wood along the ends
- Use the correct deck screw size – the right screws will reduce the stress on the wood
- Use self-drilling screws – these screws predrill as you drive them into the wood
The 3 Best Screws to Use for Deck Boards
The following 3 deck screws should work with most decking projects. They are long enough to penetrate most boards and joints without breaking through to the other end. They also offer decent corrosion resistance.
1. Star Drive Tan Wood Deck Screws
These self-drilling flat-headed screws work with most decking boards, including composite, exterior, and trim wood, without predrilling, giving your deck a comprehensive finish. Their Torx drive and serrated threads are highly durable and offer a better grip and torque than Phillips screws. These stainless-steel screws also come with a 4-layer ceramic coating for improved salt, corrosion, and rust resistance.
- Great for pressure-treated deck boards, joints, and railings
- Corrosion-resistant coating
- May stain lightly colored wood
2. Stainless Steel Trim Head Camo Deck Screws
These 8-inch stainless steel screws use Camo self-drilling technology to hide in your wood. Perfect for square and ground board profiles, these screws provide excellent weather resistance with a nice, streamlined look to your deck. They are also very strong and durable enough to hold any type of wood together including redwood and cedar. They even have a star drive for easy and smooth installations.
- Great for softwood, hardwood, and pressure-treated wood
- Naturally stain and corrosion resistant
- The trimmed flat head design stays flush with surfaces
3. Star Flat Head Composite Deck Screws
Especially well-suited for composite decking, these self-drilling star-driven flathead composite deck screws work well with both treated natural and artificial wood designs. Their excellent high temperature, rust, and corrosion resistance make them suitable for any climate or get-together. They can even cut through hardwood boards without splitting thanks to their sharp deep, wide threads.
- Great for composite and pressure-treated wood designs
- Vulnerable to thread stripping
The perfect deck requires the perfect deck screws. While not perfect for every project, the above three deck screws offer the strength and durability your deck need. They also make it easier for you to build it. Consider checking out Deck Building in San Antonio Deck or Patio to get the best for for your job.