You’ll recognize a wood screw by its flat-topped head, tapered base, pointed tip, and medium coarse threads. DIYers use wood screws for a huge variety of projects, from replacing kitchen cabinetry to building birdhouses to countless other endeavors. They are a versatile, fast, and effective fastener solution that can be simpler to use than nails, but shopping for them can be a little confusing. To find the best wood screws for your projects, focus on the details of the diameter, length, and material or coating.
Wood screw diameters are expressed numerically with the # symbol. Screws with smaller #4 and #6 diameters are best for small crafts, toys, and other light-duty projects. The #8 and #10 sizes are good for general-use construction, around the shop, and for common home repairs. Heavy-duty #12 and #14 screws are necessary for hanging solid doors and other projects where individual strength is imperative.
Choose the right screw length based on the materials being fastened. In most cases, the screw goes through the thinner piece and into the thicker piece. As a rule of thumb, try to have about ½ to ⅓ of the screw threaded into the lower, thicker piece. Or stated another way, the screw should be approximately two to three times the thickness of the thinner, upper piece.
Steel wood screws are a good, general purpose choice for woodworking and interior DIY projects, but other types are available as well. Deck screws are wood screws that are either made of a corrosion-resistant material (like stainless steel) or are coated with a material (like silicone bronze) to make them resistant to corrosion from weather and chemicals in pressure-treated lumber. They are useful for most outdoor applications. Other wood screw materials commonly include bronze, brass, and aluminum.
Our Top Picks
You could spend hours comparing different screw types and lengths. This list compiles the best wood screws for your consideration based on popular uses of commonly available types.
If you’re looking for a good all-purpose wood screw to keep on hand, consider the #8 x 1-¼” Silver Star Stainless Steel Wood Screw. It is made of 305 stainless steel, which is rated for use with pressure-treated lumber. Suitable for indoor and outdoor applications, it’s made to endure harsh weather, high moisture, and coastal areas. The T20 Torx head connects securely to the driver, almost eliminating cam-out—the process of the driver slipping off the screw while you’re working which can lead to damaging the screw or screwdriver. Self-countersinking nibs and a knurled shoulder make for easier, cleaner installation. This screw is available in three lengths: 1-¼, 1-½, and 2 inches.
For exterior construction projects, the FastenMaster FMGD003-75 GuardDog Exterior Wood Screw is an excellent choice. It is a multipurpose exterior wood screw for use with treated wood such as pressure-treated ACQ, cedar, and redwood. The versatile head style can be installed with a #2 square driver, Phillips driver bit, or PoziSquare driver bit (included in every box). The sharp threads quickly engage and penetrate lumber for quick and easy installation. Available in five lengths of 1-⅝, 2, 2-½, 3, and 3-½ inches.
Phillips head screws were invented in the 1930s as the first upgrade over slotted screws. They are still widely used in both manual-driven and power tool-driven applications. Bolt Dropper #8 x 1-½” Stainless Phillips Wood Screws are made of corrosion- and rust-resistant 304 stainless steel for excellent durability outdoors, in wet environments, and in pressure-treated lumber. A deep-cut Phillips head drive helps prevent stripping out the head. Deep, coarse threads increase gripping power, especially in softwoods. These screws have a fully threaded shank that will not overtighten, protecting delicate connections from damage.
The Torx head is considered the most secure drive application for use with power tools. The star shape distributes torque over more surface area so added power does not strip the head. It also reduces cam-out, meaning the driver is less likely to slip off the screw while you’re working. SNUG Fasteners #8 x 1-⅝” Fence & Deck Screws make fast work of installing decking and fence pickets by incorporating the Torx head. Bugle-shaped heads with countersinking nibs allow for better head concealment. They also feature a corrosion-resistant, Ultra-Guard tan coating for durability in treated lumber and wet environments.
Chemicals in pressure-treated wood cause corrosion in regular steel screws that can lead to structural failure. When working with treated wood, it’s best to choose either high-grade 304, 305, or 316 stainless steel screws or specially coated wood screws that are designed to work with treated lumber. The Power Pro Hillman 48594 Premium Exterior Wood Screw is an exterior wood screw that excels in pressure-treated lumber applications, like decking and general outdoor construction. The epoxy-coated bronze finish offers superior corrosion resistance outdoors, in pressure-treated lumber, and in salty environments. These screws feature a no-strip star drive, countersinking blades, no-split twist shank, and no-predrill Borefast thread. This pack includes a T-20 driver bit.
Stainless steel screws offer corrosion resistance comparable to coated screws, but with a look that works with both interior and exterior applications. Most of these screws are made with 304 or 305 stainless steel, which works very well for natural wood and pressure-treated lumber. Bolt Dropper #8 x 1-¼” Stainless Deck Screws are made with 305 stainless steel, with an extra-hard head to resist stripping. The point is self tapping, so no pilot hole is needed, even in hardwoods. The square drive head reduces cam-out for faster installation. Available in #8, #10, and #12 diameters, and lengths of 1-¼, 1-½, 1-⅝, 1-¾, 2, 2-½, and 3 inches.
If you need a longer reach for larger projects, the #14 x 8” Gold Star Wood Screw can get the job done. It is made with heat-treated steel and a triple-coated, yellow zinc multipurpose coating for excellent strength and corrosion resistance in all climates and environments, including use in pressure-treated wood. A secure Torx drive head reduces cam-out and allows maximum driving force. The notched, extra-sharp point reduces the need for predrilling, even in hardwood. The coarse thread design requires less torque to drive and provides maximum holding power. Self countersinking nibs and a knurled shoulder allow for cleaner, easier installation. Available in #14 and #15 diameters in 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14-inch lengths.