I built a small deck using Phillips deck screws and almost every screw has broken. The screws were guaranteed but only for corrosion it seems. Surely one doesn't have to predrill every hole to build a deck.
Check the reach of the screw
reach, is the distance between the head and where the thread starts.
In order to pull the board down tight the reach of the screw has to turn freely in the top board will pulling into the framing below. If the threads are still in contact with the top board and you try to screw the board down tight, something has to give. 1 screw may strip out the hole in the board
2 screw may strip out hole in framing below
3 screw breaks
If nothing else can be done drilling the top board with drill sized so threads of screw down grab the top board.
I put several thousand into a free standing deck I built last fall and this winter was the test of all tests with deep freezing and strain on the structure with temps hitting 30 below zero. I haven’t heard one noise out of the deck and no snapped screws.
The brand I really like are guard dog screws. The head is both a square and a Philips and takes a special bit to drive them.