These are self-tapping screws, meaning that I don't have to drill a pilot hole, but I have broken 3 of them already and I think a pilot hole would help, or maybe a stronger screw.

It seems to break if there is a knothole in the wood or just a harder spot in the wood.

Can anyone recommend a strong stainless steel 3 inch screw that is self-tapping and strong? Would a #10 be better than a #9? Should I just pre-drill with a 1/8 inch drill bit?

I'm using an impact driver (Dewalt XR) and I use it on the middle setting (setting 2 where 3 is max and 1 is for light screwing).

Also, I have no clue about the best way to get the broken screw out (it's just a stub sticking out of the board). Any recommendations for getting the broken screw out?



  • Drill a pilot hole the same diameter as the shank or root of the screw.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 7, 2020 at 5:28
  • What wood species is the decking? Sep 7, 2020 at 16:44
  • It's pressure treated wood; I'm not positive about the species. Sep 8, 2020 at 5:12

3 Answers 3


For the screw that is stuck... The easiest way to deal with it is to chop it off and then to take a bigger bit and drill it down a good 1/8"+ so it doesn't ever stick out. Sure you can spend a ton of time backing it out but I wouldn't bother with it.

I will give you two general pieces of advice when doing something like a deck...

  1. Test out your screws with the materials you have. I certainly wouldn't trust most stainless steel screws to go in that deep without a pilot - without breaking. Self-tapping means you don't need a pilot/starter to get it to catch easy. It by no purpose means you don't need a pilot hole. I would test a couple of sizes of pilot holes and see how big you can go while keeping your screw really snug.

  2. Back your screws out halfway once you get to 3/4 of the way down. This helps clear the threads and it gives your screws a break from the amount of heat. I do the same technique when doing any kind of wood join with screws. It reduced breakage and stripping the heads by 5 fold.


Thanks, guys.

I was able to extract the broken screw from the deck board by backing out all the "good" screws in it and flipping it over. I discovered that the screw broke before it got into the joist so I carved out a hole around it (in the side that faces down) with my Dremel until I was able to grip it with my locking pliers and unscrew it so it came out underneath the board. Next I'll put some Durham's water putty in the hole and when it dries flip the board back over and screw it back in.

I also got some SPAX T20 stainless steel 3 inch #10 deck screws which I really like and they are stronger.


I would clamp onto the exposed part of the screw with Vise-Grips and twist them out. I have had trouble with SS screws snapping off while being driven. SS is brittle. The deck screws don't snap.

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