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Justin Foley
06-05-2018, 7:57 AM
Ya'll helped me back in April with your comments re: replacing deck boards. The project has been a hell of an undertaking, as I'm seeing many things that need to be repaired or strengthened. Makes me wonder why I even started in the first place!

Anyway, many of the screws are rotted out and are not coming out. Either the bit slips off the screw head or the screw head just breaks. When I remove the board, the screw often stays in the joist. What's the best (and fastest) way to remove these screws? I've used a hammer to break them off (slow and annoying) and a recip saw (faster, but only to a point). The blades on the recip saw seem to wear out really, really quickly. I can only go through a handful of screws before I have to change the blade. I'm using Milwaukee demo blades (anywhere from 8 - 18tpi) and I'm not having much luck. Am I using the wrong kind of blades? What other methods can be used to cut through the screws?

Thanks!

Jim Becker
06-05-2018, 8:06 AM
A crew extractor might be your friend...particularly for those that break off. For cutting them off, try an angle grinder.

Rich Engelhardt
06-05-2018, 8:27 AM
I used one of these (https://www.harborfreight.com/4-12-in-43-amp-angle-grinder-69645.html) (angle grinder) with one of these (https://www.harborfreight.com/pack-of-10-4-1-2-half-inch-cut-off-wheels-for-metal-45430.html) (metal cutoff disk) in it.

Don't worry about it being one of those "one time only" tools. Once you have one, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
Just keep a spritzer bottle handy and douse the red hot nails. If you use a pair of pliers to bend/break the screws after just "kissing" them with the angle grinder, instead of cutting them all the way through, you can just drop them into a can and not have to bend over to pick them up.

Mike Cutler
06-05-2018, 8:27 AM
If you tear up the head and don't break it off, drill the head off using a drill bit about the size of the head.
For the screws that are still stuck in the joists, if you want to try and remove them a pair of vise grips might do the trick. Me, I'd do what Jim recommended and use an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel.

Justin Foley
06-05-2018, 8:44 AM
I brought it up to someone at work and he also suggested the angle grinder. So, looks like I'm getting an angle grinder! YAY MORE POWER TOOLS!

John K Jordan
06-05-2018, 10:12 AM
Depending on the state of the joist you may be able to simply pull them out with a claw hammer or good nail puller/crowbar. But I've used the angle grinder method with a thin abrasive wheel on stubborn screws.

Alan Rutherford
06-05-2018, 11:41 AM
Sometimes you can chuck the screw head in a drill and reverse it out. If you have a short broken stump of a screw sticking up you can drive it in or bend it over enough to bury it with a hammer and punch.

David Helm
06-05-2018, 12:44 PM
When I replaced the deck boards on some of my decks I used the sawzall, but used strictly metal cutting blades. It went quite fast. The demo blades are combination metal and wood and do not have the staying power of strictly metal cutting blades.

lowell holmes
06-05-2018, 2:07 PM
I use vise grips to back out stubborn screws. Try it.

I have also drilled them out, plugging the hole.

John K Jordan
06-05-2018, 3:12 PM
When I replaced the deck boards on some of my decks I used the sawzall, but used strictly metal cutting blades. It went quite fast. The demo blades are combination metal and wood and do not have the staying power of strictly metal cutting blades.

Plus, to cut steel the size of a screw you should use more teeth-per-inch than the typical demolition wood/nail blades. For metal cutting I like the Milwaukee "The Torch" blades.
https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Products/TORCH-Demolition-Double-Duty-Sawzall-Blades/48-00-5782
https://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-48-00-5784-6-Inch-Sawzall-Blades/dp/B00004U0UM

JKJ

Norman Pirollo
06-05-2018, 7:34 PM
I recently rebuilt my deck and had to remove between 1500-2000 square drive screws. What I found was that accumulated dirt in the square screwdriver slot would cause the bit to not engage and slip instead. So my wife picked the embedded dirt out of the tough ones with a small nail and this did the trick. It was pretty quick afterwards although 1500-2000 screws takes time regardless. There is also a 4th bag of screws we had forgotten to put in the pic.387202. Surprisingly, only a handful of screws snapped from rot.

Blogged about the deck reno at https://woodskills.com/blogs/news/deck-renovation

Norman

Clint Baxter
06-06-2018, 12:35 AM
Freud makes carbide tipped recip blades for cutting metal. Life on those is way higher than regular demo blades.

Clint

Stephen Tashiro
06-06-2018, 11:10 AM
Sometimes you can chuck the screw head in a drill and reverse it out..

I wonder if someone makes a reverse threaded chuck that would self-tighten when spun counterclockwise. That would make an impact driver a good prospect.

An oscillating multi-tool would be easier to flush-cut with than a typical demolition saw although some demo saws have a way to mount the blade for flush cutting.

If you buy a multi-tool, get one that has the "tool-less" blade change feature.

In considering whether to remove or cut-off a screw, you obviously should consider whether a new screw is likely to hit the remains of the old one.

Tommy uses something like a core drill at 1:30 in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz1SatVZ-zE Getting the core out of the bit might be tedious. Perhaps lubrication makes it easier - or some special technique ?

Robert Engel
06-06-2018, 11:15 AM
I just break 'em off with a hammer. Why is that slow and annoying? Most of the time one well place hit and they snap right off. Make sure to hit the screw X grain not with the grain.

If they won't snap that way, sometimes you can hit the screw with the grain and simple bend it over.

I've also simply forcible extracted with a crow bar if the wood is a little rotted around the screw.

I've also had good luck chucking screw head in a drill and backing out.

Unless you need a side grinder, I would stick with the sawzall + metal blade.

BTW, if you rarely use a grinder, this is the one thing I would go to Harbor Freight to get one for 20 bucks.....

Justin Foley
06-06-2018, 2:44 PM
Thanks for all of the responses! I picked up some vise grips and an angle grinder. One of those things should help!

Robert Hartmann
06-11-2018, 6:49 PM
I just took apart a 20x40 deck with 1" Ipe that I couldn't back the screws out of. I ended up just using a crow bar, which actually worked pretty well. Some screws pull out of the Ipe and others broke off. I took the time to "unscrew" some of the screws with vice grips, but ended up just whacking them with a big hammer (broke off even). We had no issues putting down the composite.

lowell holmes
06-12-2018, 4:06 PM
Well, we need a report. How did it go?

Justin Foley
06-15-2018, 7:32 AM
I was just thinking of you guys! So, all of the screws are out, demo has been completed (finally). I started putting up the boards last week and I'm chugging along. I guess I'm about... a little over 1/4 of the way? It's a 350 sq. ft. deck, so it's taking some time. I've also noticed the joists are not 16" on center. Some are 13", some are 14 5/8". That's not helping speed up the process because I have to cut nearly every board. I'm using only 8' boards because that's what will fit in the car. There's no good access point to the backyard for a forklift, so I can't really have anyone deliver decking. Putting it on the driveway isn't an option.

My contractor neighbor swung by to see how it was going. He noticed a left to right waviness, but other than that, he said it looks good. Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Thanks to the power of the interwebs (and you guys!), it'll turn out just fine.

Ole Anderson
06-16-2018, 12:06 AM
Oops, just saw your last post. Well for anyone else tackling a deck removal project: Deck wrecker bar. Worth every penny. Been there. https://www.homedepot.com/p/51-in-Deck-Wrecker-133599/205513641?cm_mmc=Shopping%7CG%7CBase%7CD25T%7C25-1_HAND+TOOLS%7CNA%7CPLA%7c71700000034127224%7c5870 0003933021546%7c92700031755124850&gclid=Cj0KCQjwx43ZBRCeARIsANzpzb8Dg7GYc0YoJNn0qSHY 9EdBm2RZtfTSeo1EH77sZv43MhfDeC3Hht8aAiP-EALw_wcB&dclid=CK_j--Wm19sCFYYUPwod6A0FyQ
https://images.homedepot-static.com/productImages/a9455f8e-93c6-44d5-8ab2-e967a4b0099c/svn/wrecking-pry-bars-133599-64_1000.jpg

Justin Foley
06-19-2018, 7:55 AM
I saw this at HD AFTER I had finished demo. My first thought was WHY NOW?!?!?!? Of course, I've probably seen it there before and had no idea what it was.

Only about 12 more boards to go and then I can start the railing. That should be the easy part. A quick sanding to knock out the little splintery holes and then I can power wash and stain. The end is near!

Rich Engelhardt
06-19-2018, 9:50 AM
A quick sanding to knock out the little splintery holes and then I can power wash and stain. The end is near!Just an FYI - if you're using treated, hold off on the staining until next year.
We have a couple decks at a rental that they put down, then "made them look good for the sale of the house". They put on the stain before the treated had a good chance to really dry out and be able to accept a stain.

Every other year, my wife and I have to take a couple of belt sanders and sand out the parts that lift off. We sit at opposite ends of the deck, lock the sanders on, then feed them to each other by the cords,,,,then turn them around and feed them back.
Other than passing some time with my wife & sharing some time together, it's one miserable job.

Frank Pratt
06-19-2018, 10:05 AM
Every other year, my wife and I have to take a couple of belt sanders and sand out the parts that lift off. We sit at opposite ends of the deck, lock the sanders on, then feed them to each other by the cords,,,,then turn them around and feed them back.
Other than passing some time with my wife & sharing some time together, it's one miserable job.

That sounds like a blast! I remember reading an article years ago about belt sander races. I guess that was actually a thing. Some guys would even modify them to soup them up.

Justin Foley
06-20-2018, 7:37 AM
Thanks, Rich! I had heard about holding off until next year from another person just last night. Believe me, after dealing with the deck, I'm okay with waiting! I feel like there should be a better way to sand that large of an area. My father-in-law suggested a floor sander, but that may be a little too much.