How to Extract Composite Deck Screws
When you install composite decking with screws, they may become damaged and require extraction. If the head of a screw is stripped and you cannot back it out with your drill driver, you can use a screw extractor. Sold separately or in sets, extractors are available at most home improvement centers and hardware stores. A screw extractor will improve your chances of removing the screw without damaging one of your composite deck planks.
Insert the screw extractor into the chuck of your drill or drill driver, with the burnishing tip facing out.
Set your drill or drill driver to reverse, meaning to rotate in a counterclockwise manner.
Insert the burnishing tip into the head of the damaged screw. While operating your driver at a low speed, allow the tip to clean out any damaged metal, creating a smooth surface. Remove the drill or drill driver from the screw.
Loosen the chuck on the drill or drill driver, reverse the screw extractor, then retighten the chuck. The portion of the screw extractor with the reverse metal cutting threads is now available for use.
Reinsert the screw extractor into the head of the damaged screw. While operating the drill or driver at an extremely low rate of rotation, allow the screw extractor to cut its way into the top of the damaged screw.
Continue operating the drill or drill driver in reverse. Once the cutting threads have descended to their maximum depth, the screw will begin turning itself up, out of the composite decking.
Reset the drill driver or drill to rotate in a clockwise direction.
Grasp the extracted screw firmly with pliers. While operating your drill or drill driver at low speed, begin turning the screw extractor until it has backed itself out of the head of the damaged screw. Discard the screw; it should never be reused.
- Because you will usually have only one opportunity to use a screw extractor successfully on a damaged screw, it is very important to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. If you are inexperienced, you may wish to practice by driving a screw into a piece of scrap, and then intentionally damaging the head. It is much better to practice in a penalty-free environment than to risk damaging an expensive piece of composite decking.
Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.