How to remove old deck screws without breaking them

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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How to remove old deck screws without breaking them
Replacing boards every couple of years keeps an old deck looking new. (deck image by Albert Lozano from

You can remove old deck screws without breaking them or damaging the boards. Wood decking material often expands over time, which may cause screw heads to sink below the surface. Debris may build up in the recessed cavity and make it difficult to to access the deck screws. When damaged boards need to be replaced, the old deck screws must be taken out. Old deck screws can be quickly removed using a few specialised tools and techniques.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tweezers or needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver with solid metal cap
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill
  • Screw extractor bit

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  1. 1

    Remove any debris covering the head of the deck screw with a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers.

  2. 2

    Lower the tip of the screwdriver into the slotted head of the deck screw. Tap with light to medium force on the end of the screwdriver handle to loosen the deck screw threads and set the tip into the screw head. Turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to ease the loosened deck screw out slowly.

  3. 3

    Equip an electric drill with a screw extractor bit so the reaming end is facing out. Set the electric drill to reverse and press the extractor bit into the screw head until it reams out a cone-shaped indentation. Remove and reverse the extractor bit so the removal end is facing out.

  4. 4

    Push the extractor bit into the cone-shaped divot with firm pressure and slowly start the drill while it remains in the reverse direction setting. Back the drill out slowly as the deck screw comes out of the board.

Tips and warnings

  • If a deck screw is rusted or heavily damaged, it may still break during extraction. Most boards with broken screws can simply be lifted up and the remaining screw pieces pulled out with pliers.

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