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I'm trying to finish up a composite deck project. We had been using SplitStop screws when we needed them, but I only need about 30 more and don't want to buy another box of them because they're very expensive, and I don't need anywhere near a full box of 275. I found a box of 'cladding' screws that looked similar and tried them, but had problems with them not going in all the way; they left the head exposed quite a bit, a good 1/4".

The original Split Stop screws have a blank part of the shaft, and then at the top they have strange threads, almost like 'flanges' that are perpendicular to the shaft. Occasionally we had the same problem with these, with them not going in all the way. Never could figure out why, anyone know?

Before these cladding screws, I thought I tried something like these, which look the same as SplitStop and had the same problem with them not going in all the way, but I'm going to give them a shot again.

The cladding screws are slightly different in that their last section, near the head, has reverse-threaded threads. I guess this is why they stop going in?

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I believe the intent of the reverse thread is to suck the deck board down onto the stringer. You don’t want the deck board and the stringer both engaged to the threads; that will hold the deck board spaced away from the stringer and put all the weight of traffic on that thread.

If the screw isn’t going in all the way, turn the head clockwise some more.

How to do that exactly is a matter for discussion between you and your screwdriver(s).

It will either go down more, or break. If it breaks, then the wood is too tough for it; consider pre-drilling the holes.

If it’s not descending, then the screw isn’t turning. If the driver is simply hopping out of the miniature “socket” inside the screw head, stop that from happening immediately because it will quickly destroy the “socket” and make the screw un-turnable. This is most often an issue with Philips screws.

If your screwdriver is refusing to turn the screw any harder (without hopping), then you are at the torque limit for that tool. Some power drivers have a torque setting at which they’re designed to quit, and that can be changed. Again, pre-drilling can reduce this torque somewhat. Otherwise, change tools.

I prefer a “speed wrench”, which is a socket wrench shaped like a crank. I use it with a “bit holder” placed in the socket; this gives a good combination of power, control and speed. I’ve never found anything I couldn’t drive with them. Also, the speed wrench allows you to dedicate your drill to pre-drilling.

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  • Thanks; I had pre-drilled these holes; I didn't think you were supposed to with these specialty screws and the composite wood, but I did, because they didn't go in without pre-drill; We then thought it wasn't finishing screwing in because we had pre-drilled too much, or too large a diameter hole, but then why would it have gone in partially at first and most of the way? Also it was a torx bit; it descended and then just spun; it wasn't stripping the bit, either, I have a drill that can apply torque slowly; the screw was just spinning with the head sticking out – user26270 Jul 7 '20 at 16:02
  • @user26270 Pre-drilling always reduces turning force, so that’s not a factor. Going in partially and then getting stiffer is how all screws always work, so that doesn’t tell us anything. If the screw head is spinning but not advancing, the screw broke off. I would think if you were using a power driver, you would’ve felt the torque of that letting go! – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 7 '20 at 17:27
  • The screw didn't break; we were able to back it out, after it stopped advancing and was just spinning – user26270 Jul 7 '20 at 17:38
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    So it sounds like the screw pulverized all the wood flesh in the screw area, more like a drill than a screw. That’s very unusual but maybe the reverse thread had something to do with it. Were you pushing firmly down at the time, or letting it float? Any chance you hit a knot or something metal? Regardless, a screw which stops and spins like this is completely useless, and will do nothing to hold the deck down. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 7 '20 at 17:44

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