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How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to unscrew a screw and the head is stripped? Or some moron painted the screw and now you can’t get your screwdriver into the slots. (I might have been the painting fool mentioned.) Luckily there are two ways to solve this problem.

Removing the Painted Screw:

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

If you can’t get your screwdriver far enough into the screw to remove it, you may have some luck with a little force. Insert the screwdriver into the head of the screw.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Give the end of the screw driver a good whack with a hammer. This should be enough to either break through the paint, or put a dent into the screw head.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Without removing the screwdriver, press down and slowly unscrew the screw.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

 

Removing the Stripped Screw:

At some point in your life, I guarantee that you will find yourself face-to-face with a screw that some muscle-head has ground down to a round hole. This happens when someone uses a drill and continues to drive the screw in long after it has stopped turning. Or when the metal screw was too soft and gave way under the force of the drill.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

If you have either a metal file, metal hack saw or a dremel with a metal cutting wheel on it, you can solve this issue.

You will also need eye protection and a flat head screwdriver (not a philips head.)

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Using your metal cutting tool of choice (I used the dremel), cut a slot across the head of the screw. You are essentially changing the screw into a flat head screw. (If you are using the dremel, be forewarned that sparks will fly!)

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Insert the flat head driver into the groove that you created.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Turn the screw counter-clockwise until you have removed it.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

Easy, right?! I’m curious, do you have any other tips or tricks for removing a stuck screw? Please share.

How to Remove a Stuck Stripped or Painted Screw

26 replies
  1. JolieAnne
    JolieAnne says:

    Thanks for this post. I want to buy a dremel tool but I am not sure it is for me. I need a drill to hang curtain rods and to do other small projects. Do I need a more heavy duty drill for that?
    Thanks for any comments you have concerning my question. I love your blog and wish I had as much talent as you do! I look forward to your posts.
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  2. Laura
    Laura says:

    I had the stripped screw issues: I researched at Lowes, and found a bit for the drill that is specifically for this. One end grinds into the head and gives it some texture (for lack of a better word!), then you flip the bit over, and the other ends grabs the screw and it comes right out.. google “screw extractor bit”. One bit was just a few dollars!
    But I do love using my dremel and seeing sparks fly…that is worth it!
    laura

    Reply
  3. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Or… you could just use a wide rubber band, lay it on top of the head and use the phillips or flat-head screw driver to remove as usual. Honestly…it works. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Minh
    Minh says:

    This wont work for most DIY house projects but because I am a fabricator/metal worker, a lot of time when metal nuts/bolts are stripped you can just weld a nut onto it. I suppose the same can technically be done w/ JB weld on any household screws. Also impact drivers are great too, it has a bit at one end and you hammer the other end. The force of the hammer pushes the bit into the screw and screws it at the same time (http://community.craftsman.com/Craftsman-Impact-Driver-reviews). The screw extractors mentioned above works well too!

    Reply
  5. Kara
    Kara says:

    This is a great tip. And my hubbie just happened to get me a Dremel for my birthday this weekend. Yet another excuse to use it. Woot woot!

    Reply
  6. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    I know for one trick I use, I curse a lot then I go into action. I hate when that has happened & you’re right, some ‘muscle head’ has done this! Thanks for the tips, this one I must remember by heart before I loose my temper the next time. Thank you!

    Reply
  7. patricia
    patricia says:

    I used a hot air gun, applying hot heat to each screw for about 30 seconds, then used hammer and screwdriver method….BAM!!! Out came each screw!!

    Reply
  8. Dan Smith
    Dan Smith says:

    Great tip, the Dremel is the duck tape of the hardware world; a million uses and counting! Never owned one until I was 60 years old; don’t wait as long as I did, as this is a very handy tool.

    Reply
      • Dan Smith
        Dan Smith says:

        Not yet, just the old rotary Dremel. I’m a condo dweller these days, so not too many home projects. However, when the need arises I will most definitely acquire the multi-max or similar.

        Reply
  9. Kaye jay
    Kaye jay says:

    When I separated from my husband he locked my things away so I couldn’t recover anything but clothes from the house we had shared. He stripped screws on the shed so I couldn’t remove the handle that was padlocked, chained gates and barricaded roller doors and windows. He also took the wheels off MY car. This website, along with other online advice helped me get the knowledge and confidence to break in. I called police and they came and watched me get into the house and shed but couldn’t actually do it for me (laws in my area). I now have myself a little collection of my own tools and my belongings (and a little power) back! A part of me wishes I got to see his face when he got home from work and realised all his heavy duty evilness hadn’t worked. So, Thank You!

    Reply
  10. Tom Jolly
    Tom Jolly says:

    Thanks for this advice! I just moved into a home that had a half dozen outlets painted over to the point that I couldn’t even get a screw driver blade into the notch. I googled solutions and found these ideas, tried the hammer method first, but the paint was just too thick, so I got a Dremel and solved the problem in a matter of minutes.

    Reply
  11. Venita
    Venita says:

    Thank you so much for your instructions! Every other site I checked was run by men who wanted to just drill out the screw. Converting to a flat head with my Dremel was the perfect solution!!! Thanks again…

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] feat.  I used a combination of paint stripping with a screw driver and the hammer method described here.  The doors needed to be majorly sanded before they were painted.  And the inside of the closet […]

  2. […] Uh oh, the screw still won’t come out? Here’s plan C: Use a dremel to get the screw out! […]

  3. […] feat.  I used a combination of paint stripping with a screw driver and the hammer method described here.  The doors needed to be majorly sanded before they were painted.  And the inside of the closet […]

  4. […] feat.  I used a combination of paint stripping with a screw driver and the hammer method described here.  The doors needed to be majorly sanded before they were painted.  And the inside of the closet […]

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