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While we were watching thousands of people drive (and strip) zillions of screws at Maker Faire, one attendee stopped by to suggest that we’d have had better luck with Deck Mate screws.  Actually, a couple of different people suggested them, which drove us to the Deck Mate website for a look.

Apparently the secret to Deck Mate’s screws is a set of “Anti-Camout Ribs” (ACRs) that match up with a set of ribs on Deck Mate’s special driver bits.  The difference between Deck Mates and other specialty screws (like LOX) is that you can drive Deck Mates with a standard #2 Phillips bit.  The special bits engage the ACRs and are less likely to strip, but if you need to drive ’em with a standard bit, you can.

At any rate, with that many pros recommending them, they’re probably worth a look.  We’ll see about picking up some for testing when we can.

Deck Mate Screws [Corporate Site]


41 Responses to Deck Mate Screws: The Best For Deck Construction?

  1. Toolaremia says:

    Silly. And designed only to generate revenue with another patented (read: $$$) design. You don’t need “anti camout ribs” if you have a fastener *designed* NOT to cam-out. The Phillips was designed to cam-out (strip), and people have been trying to undo that design ever since.

    Robertson-head (square head) screws NEVER cam-out, don’t need any bogus “ribs”, and are no longer encumbered by expensive patents.

  2. chris says:

    I use Deck Mate screws, beats the pants out of the cheaper screws at the home improvement stores. You don’t need their special bit (although one comes in every box, I usually throw ’em away), because a square drive bit will do the job.

  3. Leslie says:

    I used them for part of the project when we converted an old carport to a deck-floored screen porch, and they made a huge difference, especially for our “helpers” who weren’t as skilled at keeping the driver in line with the screw.

  4. Michael W. says:

    I wouldn’t say that Robertson’s “never” cam out. They will as the bits wear. I’ll go through the bits rather quickly. When a bit is new, it’s great though, and I still prefer them over Deck Mates and regular Phillips.

    My new favorite is Pro Fit Platinum Series Star Drive (I use the Stainless Steel) from National Nail. I buy them at a local hardware store. I have never been able to cam one out, even when I’m in an awkward position without the proper amount of force behind the driver. The size I use is available from 1 5/8″ to 3 1/2″.


  5. Bob says:

    Home Depot and Lowes both sell the DeckMate screws. I think the ones at Home Depot are a combo Phillips and square drive. So you can use one of three bits to drive it. Either a: phillips, square drive, or the combination phillips/square drive bit they sell with the screws. It looks like the picture in this post.

    The ones sold at Lowes are just normal Phillips, but if you but their bit it has the anti-camout ridges on the bit that works with the ridges on the screw.

    I could have the stores flip-flopped on who carries which type of screw.

  6. Frank Hicinbothem says:

    I’ll add my vote in favor of the Deck Mate screws. I use them pretty much everywhere. I get the best performance with the special bit, but as someone noted, they wear out quickly. But since a new one comes in every box, so what? And as someone else noted, you can always use a square drive or plain Phillips bit if you have to.

    I like stainless steel square-drives for window installation, but I find it’s easy to get careless and use the square-drive bits beyond their limited lifetime. And frugal-me hates throwing them away because they’re “only a little worn.” Between window installs and pocket screws, I go through quite a few of them.

    About the only thing I still use plain Phillips for is drywall, and that’s because my $%^& screw gun takes special screw strips that only come in plain Phillips.

  7. Blind says:

    Like said above, Phillips head screws were designed for the driver to slip out to prevent the screw from being over torqued, so why would they design a head that behaves the exact opposite but still uses the same form factor?

    Why not just use a Robinson or Hex or a make a larger Torx?

  8. Blind says:

    Err, Robertson, not Robinson, my bad.

  9. Blind says:

    Has the patent on Posidriv expired yet? This just seems more and more like a solution to a non existent problem that has already been solved multiple times over.

  10. James says:

    I probably sound like a broken record, but McFeely’s sell good Robertson deck screws, like these #8 x 2-1/2″ Flat Head corrosion resistant screws:


    At $65 for 1000 and $130 for 2500, they’re pretty cheap, as well.

  11. eschoendorff says:

    I want to echo what Bob said. These bits are a kind of Phillips-Robertson hybrid. That said, they do work. Very well, in fact.

    If you are looking for a traditional phillips bit with anti-camout ribs, try these:


    They’re expensive, but they do a good job when used with manual screwdrivers.

  12. Abe says:

    Why not just go torx and forget about it? I’ve never had a torx screw strip when driving into wood.

  13. Mike D in TO says:

    Living in Canada – I use Robertson all the time as they don’t tend to strip or pop out unless your bit is worn as stated above. I think the biggest factor is what you are using to drive them in. I now use my impact driver instead of a drill as you have much more control and tend not to strip even the Phillips. Not to mention it doesn’t twist your arm and it will screw into the toughest materials with ease.

  14. theminor says:

    Square head for life.

  15. TL says:

    The Deck Mate screws and driver work better than a phillips, but not as good as a square drive with a GOOD bit. I suffer from the same mental inability to throw away a slightly worn square drive bit that previous posters have noted. It’s a sad disease which can screw up your project.

  16. Pencilneck says:

    I built a wooden fence using Deck Mate screws around my back yard about 6 or 7 years ago. If I were to build another fence like it, I’d go with Deck Mate screws again. I ended up getting 3 boxes (don’t remember how many per box). Each box came with the bit. I wore out one bit, and went though most of the 3 box of screws with the second bit. The bits last a good while… longer than the number of screws in the box. Plus you can purchase extra bit if needed, they don’t cost that much.

    The screws themselfs are pretty good quality, they don’t work loose. When I build a deck on my house in the next year, I’ll get some more boxes of Deck Mate screws since I know they work very well.

    • Phillip says:

      The original DeckMate screws, Marketed by Home Depot with the exclusive PSD2-2 heads were made by Phillip’s Fasteners. The new ones with the torx head are made by Grip Rite and are not the quality of the old screws. I tracked down the manufacturer today and they are offering the same screw with the patented PSD2-2 head for a dollar less than Home Depot did with no shipping cost and no minimum. Even if the Deckmate screws were quality screws the torx head screws are not good for carpentry work.

      1) torx bits do not tolerate off axis/off angle driving which is often necessary with working in tight spaces.

      2) torx bits are easily shattered under the load of heavy driving. I have never broken a #2 square drive bit which is my preferred driver for the PSD2-2 screws.

      3) if you strip out a torx socket you are “screwed” as you will not be able to back it out. usually I have to drill the head out and cut the shank after disassembly or back out with a pair of “ViceGrips” if I can get a grip. I prefer to use the PSD2-2 with a #2 square driver bit that shines in off axis driving.. and if it strips the head (rare ocasion) you simply reverse and in most cases there will be enough purchase to back the screw out. If it is two striped for that I grap a #3 or #2 Phillips and back it out.

      4) If you are out doing some construction in West Undershirt, USA and loose or break your last T25 torx bit there is a good chance there wont be a replacement within 50 miles. If you break of loose your last Square drive bit. It is likely you will still have a #3 or #2 Phillips bit in your tool box and if not you dont have to go to a specialty tool shop to find them.

      Problem is Home Depot has screwed up again and the only thing that will change their minds is for the new inferior screws to gather dust on their shelves.

      In the mean time. Order what you need directly from the manufacturer and save a couple bucks as well. http://www.phillipsfastener.com

      Don’t get me wrong I am not Anti Home Depot. Quite the contrary, I like doing business with them and appreciate their policy of extending a 10% discount to veterans and active duty personnel. Sometime they just make bone headed decisions

  17. Mr. Smartypants says:

    Use the clutch on your drill/driver and eliminate any cam out problems with any srew design. Did some one forget to mention that Deckmates are guranteed forever? Also stainless screws can snap easier then regular steel. Deckmates are strong, last forever, hold tight, come in colors and are easy to buy at tons of places. What else do you want?

  18. Sam says:

    I many hundreds of pounds of screws as a contractor and I can say that a.) the clutch on your drill does nothing to stop a screw from stripping, b.) stainless screws are for suckers, and c.) phillips-square head screws are the way to go. I use generic flavor, as they are cheaper than name brand and don’t have any stupid ridges or ribs or whatever to wear off the end of your bit.

  19. metis says:

    deckmate screws really are wonderful. they’re uniformly made for the price, are neigh on impossible to strip, and wet/outdoor rated. they’re not for layign drywall or hanging a picture, but for exposed/wet wood fastening i’ve yet to find anythign better. using “specialty” bits like torx or robertson leaves the client with a tamper resistant deck, but not one as easy to replace one board on.

    torx and tamper torx i’ve not seen stripped, but the square, triangle, and allen heads can and do strip out.

  20. Dan says:

    If your building a deck I always use a hidden deck fastener like Ipe Clip which were designed so you dont screw into the face of your deck. Hidden deck fasteners are very good for hardwood decks and composite decks. I feel that if your going to invest money in a deck you might as well make it look good and reduce splitting, splintering, cupping and rotting at the same time. http://www.ipeclip.com

  21. Sam says “Stainless screws are for suckers”… Er, I’m guessing he doesn’t work on the coast? Try this. Drive a DeckMate screw int o a board near the end. Use an old chisel to split the board open. Note how much of the coating rubbed off when the DeckMate went in. In my neck of the woods, that starts rusting within months, particularly when going into ACQ framing members.

    Drive the DeckMate through tough, abrasive Ipe, and you’ll find even more of the coating is gone. “Lifetime warranty” notwithstanding, the things do rust.

    Actually, the DeckMate is a great utility screw, and I buy ’em by the 25lb box for other things, but not for decking, and I’ve never seen them with a trim head.

    WRT the combo-drive vs. robertson vs. philips vs. Torx – every one of ’em will strip if you tilt the driver, overdrive (go too fast), or use a worn bit. For me, the Torx is the only style really usable in stainless, which is quite soft, in ipe. And that’s with predrilling, which you have to do with Ipe.

    I’m not a fan of deck clips or under-mounted fasteners. Its inevitable that you’re going to gouge, burn, or otherwise damage a board at some point in the future, and any system (like the Ipeclip) that makes it impossible to remove a single board from the middle of the deck is a no-go for me. Also, deck boards are a) not straight and b) not dry when you install them and any fastener that relies on a single screw strikes me as a great setup for callbacks.

  22. Kevin says:

    They took away the good screws and put the new sucky deckmates in place. These new screws come with a hex-star drve that strip out quickly or you can’t insert the tip because the coating’s too thick.
    Help Mr. Wizard!!

  23. Mark says:

    Thank You Kevin!!! I feel the same way about those new torx drive Deck Mates. They SUCK!!! That’s how I found this site, by trying to find out if Deck Mate stopped making the Square Drive/Phillips screws, or if Home Cheapo just stopped carrying them. Maybe those Robertson ones are a good replacement.

  24. Drew says:

    I didn’t buy the star drive screws – but found some old stock of the square drive. Between the Deck Mate philips/square-driv bit and a #2 square drive
    bit I can get these screws into (and out of) almost anything. Any hints on where to find/buy the “pre-star drive” stock? Has Deck Mate stopped making the old style?

  25. Drew says:

    Just found out that the phillips/square drive screw that Home Depot used to cary is available at Lowes as Phillips II Driv screws. Sizes not in store are available at lowes.com.

  26. Ricardo Furioso says:

    I was the attendee at the Maker Faire who recommended Toolmonger look into Deckmates. Having been disappointed and wanting an explanation of the swtich to Torx head screws, I called the number on the web site at deckmatescrews.com (1-888-332-6283 ) which is actually Phillips Fastener Products, a subsidiary of Phillips Screw Company. Spoke with an nice-but-overwhelmed-sounding woman there who said A) Home Cheapo owns the name Deckmate and has stopped buying screws from Phillips. B) So Home Cheapo is now putting the Deckmate name on junk screws. C) But Home Cheapo has figured out that the junk screws suck. D) And she said that Home Cheapo has come back to Phillips to ask them to once again furnish screws to be marketed at Home Cheapo. The questions she couldn’t answer are Will they be like the old Deckmates? (Probably) Will they have the blue driver tips? (Probably not.) When will they be back in Home Cheapo? (Christmas or so, 2008.) Meanwhile she said that Lowe’s carries several sizes of the blue-tip screws.

  27. Bruce says:

    #2 Robertson bits work even better in these screws than the proprietary bit. 🙂

    #2 and #3 Phillips bits work about equally badly, and cam out at such low torque as to be virtually unusable. If you lose the Deck-Mate bit, go get some #2 Robertson bits and use those.

  28. theraphy says:

    I hope I can actually get a chance to try these.

  29. MNhandy says:

    We have owned several homes and I have built many decks, fences and other projects for our own use and for our friends and family. In late 2005 I used DeckMate screws (#8 x 2-1/2″) in 5/4″ ACQ decking for the first time. I loved them when I installed them. Now I need to replace popped screws every spring, and not just a few… LOTS. Heads are rusty, screws are breaking off every season in the threads below the shank, and I have never seen anything like this. These Phillips DeckMate screws are crap!! I am now reading about many other similar experiences, and I followed the instructions on their “Lifetime Guarantee” product to a tee. Today I have replaced hundreds, and am about to replace hundreds more. DON’T BUY DECKMATE SCREWS. At installation, they’re great. After a year or so of weathering, get ready for rusting, breakage, and popping.

    • ron says:

      HI im having the same problem i built a 6 foot wood fence in my backyard about 5 months ago now half of the pickets are falling off from the screws snapping in half.

  30. Jack Borgen says:

    Totally agree that deckmate screws are JUNK! Great when installing new, but disintegrate within one to two years!

  31. browndog77 says:

    And people scoffed at me when I used 14D ringshank nails on my 2 X 6 decking! 4 years in & nary a squeak!

  32. John Timms says:

    Guys I work for a Canadian fastener manufacturer who sells literally millions of Robertson drive Deck Screws every year. We also manufacture bits for these screws under the Pro-Tip brand that are two piece featuring a S2 tool steel tip pressed into the bit body. These bits easily outlast the more common one piece bits found throughout the States that are notorious for premature wear.

  33. Bob says:

    I like the Deck Mate screws, a lot, but they don’t sell them at Lowes or Home Depot anymore. The screws they sell now, SUCK !! They either strip-up, or don’t pull-tight. and I have to keep changing between different bits. 🙁

  34. Larry says:

    Can anybody tell me why,4 years ago deck screws from every manufacturer have the threads extend 3/4 of the total screw length tightening a 2 by 4 against anything with a 2 1/2 screw the head sucks 3/4 into the 2 by 4 before it starts sucking in the 2 by 4 TOTALLY Useless piece of crap.U are talking drives here,square,Phillips,using I would say were designed to cam out,go TORX or go home,cause U R not making screws anyway.All of U guys start copying from GRK fasteners.

    • Phillip says:

      I have been using the “Deck Mate” screw with the exclusive PSD2-2 head driving with a #2 square drive. Camming out is rare and I have never had a square drive snap under heavy driving. In construction you are oft required to drive off axis in tight spaces. If you try that with a Torx you will be going home. Torx strip out easily and the bits break or twist easily. If you strip a torx head you are screwed as you will have to drill the head out. With the PSD2-2 you simply reverse the diver and in most cases the screw will back out. if it is too stripped you can grab a #2 or #3 Phillips and back it right out. If you break or loose you last T25 Torx bit you are going home. If you break or loose you last square drive on a PSD2-2 you simply pull out a Phillips and continue working until you get a chance to get to the store.

  35. Jim Groelke says:

    Torx is the best by far Phillip. I don’t know which torx you are using but that is all I will use if possible.
    Torx were the old screws used by furniture manufacters and they are still using them by the way.

  36. Jim Groelke says:

    Home Depot used to sell square drive and switched to torx or star drive. Why do you think they switched? Because torx was inferior? No they switched to torx because they were superior to square drive.

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