Deck screws come in a variety of styles, finishes, threads and drive types. Be sure to match the type of material you are fastening first. The best deck screws for laminate floors may not be the same as the ones you use on pressure-treated wood decks.
Editor's Note: Check out our advice on how to organize screws and nails with the Milwaukee Packout System.
Materials and coating types used for deck screws
You can find many types of deck screws specifically designed to work best on pressure-treated wood or composite decks. The type of material used to make and/or coat the fastener does matter. For example, stainless steel deck screws (often with square drives) may be softer than other screws, but they offer excellent corrosion protection.
Other screws are coated to prevent corrosion. For example, certain Grip-Rite deck screws have a PrimeGuard Plus coating that provides a lifetime guarantee against rust and corrosion. Deckmate screws use a polymer coating with a similar lifespan. Everbilt Screws also offers a bonding material designed for use with pressure-treated wood.
GrabberGard screws require a package substrate that is bonded with a surface coating using a thermal fusion process. No matter what type of exterior screw you use, make sure it includes a coating to protect it from the elements…unless you're using stainless steel. The worse the environment (think towering oceanfront beach houses as your extreme), the more you want to focus on deck screw material.
Best Type of Deck Auger Drive
When it comes to the type of drive you want in your deck screws, we can all agree on one thing: Philips and "horn" heads are out! We highly recommend square drives or Torx (or similar "star drives"). The Square (Roberts) drive provides more aggressive bit engagement than the Philips. This makes driving easier and the impact driver bit harder to strip the heads of stainless steel deck screws.
For coated screws we generally prefer Torx or star drive (T-25) as it gives you a lot of points of contact. This results in a very confident start, and the bit stays in the fastener throughout the drive.
Many coated deck screws still use Philips heads or variations of Philips-type drivers. Other than cost, we see no reason to choose these over the T-25 star drives.
Editor's Note: The biggest cause of screw heads coming off is a worn drill bit. Using a cordless impact driver will also help drive the screw without stripping the head. Many times, manufacturers use different types of drill bits to help differentiate their products from other similar products. For us, it's more about speeding up our workflow. Philips slows you down compared to other drive types.
Deck Thread Design
It used to be that a thread was a thread. Now, deck screw manufacturers have really researched and perfected their products. We see several different types of threads that are helpful for installing various fasteners to pressure treated or composite decks.
No surprises here. You can certainly find coated deck screws that offer a standard thread with no frills. You can even save some money buying these fasteners because they contain no proprietary or patented technology.
Screws with self-priming (type 17) tangent points prevent splitting. This works well when screwed into pressure treated decks. The last thing you want is forks to introduce water into your 5/4 deck.
dual thread design
Some of the best deck screws include a double thread design. This allows the screws to use a lower torque for the initial drive and then use a tighter thread to pull the top plate tight to the joists.
You can also see on the head of this trim screw that they added a ribbed feature to help bury the head into the board when fully driven. Many coated deck screws have a design similar to this one, and we've found it very useful.
Reverse thread reduction sprung up
A common problem when screwing down laminate floors is sprung up. The area around the screw pops out and creates a raised area. Adding a reverse thread near the top of these screws helps remove raised mushrooms. Manufacturers also often pair it with a concave surface that pushes the material down for a nice flush surface.
our top picks
We thought that after we've given you all the details of the technique and coating, we should probably pick up some screws that we use a lot. Here are our top picks, with a brief explanation of why we prefer them over other brands and types.
Everbilt Exterior Wood Screws
The sharp point and coarse threads on these screws prevent cracking when dealing with pressure-treated decks. The T-25 star driver allows for fast driving, and the coating ensures these screws will last.
Best Deck Screws for Composite Boards
Grip-Rite Star-Drive Deck Screws
Grip-Rite Star-Drive Deck Screws are available in brown, tan, and gray and have some of our favorite features. You get easy-to-drive coarse threads that start and drive smoothly and quickly. You also have a tight reverse thread that works well with small pan heads to eliminate mushrooming.
The star drive prevents stripping, and you can find screws 2-1/2" or 3" long. We have used these screws on our laminate flooring projects and love the look of them. The finished project looks fantastic, and we love that you can get these screw heads with very little showing.
Best Stainless Steel Deck Screws
Deckmate Square Drive Stainless Steel Deck Screws
I really like the Deckmate Square Drive Stainless Steel Deck Screws for their quality and variety of options. Unlike some other stainless steel screws we've used in the past, these aren't so soft that the heads come off easily. Instead, they drive quickly due to their coarse threads and crack resistance.
The Deckmate doesn't do anything fancy with the head, but we found it would sink quickly and easily when driven into pressure-treated wood. Made of 305 stainless steel, you'll want to use these screws when tackling harsh environments, including building construction near the coast.
Ever looked at a "review" site, but you can't tell if they actually tested the tools, or if they were just "recommending" Amazon bestsellers?
That's not us. We only recommend things we actually use, even if we don't earn a commission from them. It's all about providing you with sound recommendations and our honest opinions on each product.
We've been in business since 2008, covering tools, writing reviews and industry news coverage for the construction, automotive and lawn care industries. Our professional reviewers work in the industry and have the skills and experience to see if a tool will perform well in the field.
Every year, we introduce and review more than 250 individual products. Our teams will use hundreds of other tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.
We consult with innovators in tool technology and design to gain a broader understanding of where and how these products work.