How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck

How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck
How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck

Building a deck is an exciting project that can enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space. However, choosing the right fasteners for your deck is a crucial decision that can impact its durability and longevity. With a wide range of options available, it’s important to select a fastening system that can withstand the test of time and provide a sturdy foundation for your deck. In this article, we will walk you through the different deck fastener options and provide you with the pros and cons of each material.

Nails and Screws

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

Nails and screws are the most common types of fasteners used in deck construction. Nails are sized by their length, designated by a penny or “d” size. The gauge or diameter of nails increases as the penny size increases. Common nails, often used for general framing, have large heads and thick shanks, providing good holding power but can be challenging to drive and may cause wood splitting.

Box nails, on the other hand, are thinner than common nails of the same size and are ideal for reducing splitting in 3/4-inch or thinner stock. Ringshank and spiral nails grip the wood fibers tightly and are difficult to remove. They are a great choice when you need extra holding power.

Screws offer similar holding power to nails and are often preferred due to their easy removal. Decking screws, typically #10 and available in 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-inch lengths, are a popular choice. They are sharp, tapered, self-sinking, and coated for corrosion resistance. When using screws, it is essential to match the screwdriver bit to the screw head for maximum efficiency. Square heads drive more securely than other options.

How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck | HBK Constructions

How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck | HBK Constructions
How to Choose the Right Fastener for Your Deck | HBK Constructions

Framing Hardware

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

Framing connectors play a crucial role in strengthening the joints between framing members. While nails and screws were commonly used in the past, most current building codes now require the use of framing hardware for added structural support.

Joist hangers are used to attach joists to the side of a ledger or beam. At corners, you can either cut a joist hanger in half using tin snips or use an angle bracket to accommodate joists that attach at a 45-degree angle. For beams sitting on top of posts, post caps provide a reliable joint. If joists sit on top of a beam, some local codes allow angle-driven screws, while others may require special seismic or hurricane ties for additional lateral strength.

To secure large pieces like posts, lag screws or carriage bolts are recommended. Bolts are stronger and can be tightened in the future if the lumber shrinks. Washers should always be used under the head of a lag screw or the nut on a carriage bolt to prevent the fastener from sinking into the wood. When attaching a ledger to brick, block, or concrete, lag screws and masonry anchors are the preferred options.

Other Types of Deck Fasteners

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

If you prefer a deck surface without visible nails or screws, invisible deck fastening systems are available. These fasteners, although more expensive and time-consuming to install, provide a clean and uncluttered deck surface, making them ideal for contemporary deck designs or intricate decking patterns.

Deck clips are the easiest to install as they work from the top of the deck. Continuous fasteners, on the other hand, require driving screws from underneath and are better suited for raised decks. Masonry fasteners can also be used, where an anchor bolt comes preassembled, expanding against the sides of a predrilled hole as you tighten the bolt. Plastic or soft-metal expansion shields are designed to spread their sides as you tighten the fastener, providing a secure hold.

Power Fasteners

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

Power fasteners, such as nail guns, screw guns, and power-actuated fasteners, offer a faster alternative to traditional hammer and nails. They can speed up carpentry projects and provide various advantages:

  • The gun can be operated with one hand, freeing the other hand to steady the work and keep it aligned.
  • A single blow from the gun drives the nail, eliminating the repeated hammer blows that can disrupt alignment.
  • The risk of bending a nail or missing the nailhead and denting the deck is minimized.
  • Nails used in nail guns are thin and have blunt tips, reducing the chance of splitting the wood.
  • They allow for nailing in hard-to-reach places or positions.
  • Many guns can be set to countersink the fasteners or leave them flush with the surface.

Power fasteners are available in various types, including those powered by compressed air, power cells, or chemical or explosive charges. While they can be more expensive, rental stores often offer these tools for temporary use.

How to Choose the Right Size Fastener

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

Choosing the correct size fastener is crucial for the stability and integrity of your deck. Here are some tips to help you get the sizing right:

  • Decking : Fasten 5/4 decking with 2 1/2-inch screws or 8d nails. For 2-inch thick decking, use 3-inch screws or 10d nails.
  • Joists : Use 16d nails or #10 screws for attaching joists to beams or ledger boards.
  • Framing : Use 10d or 16d nails, depending on the thickness of the lumber. 3 1/2-inch screws are also suitable for framing.
  • Hardware : Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate size and type of screws or nails to use with framing hardware.

Always refer to local building codes and consult with a professional if you have specific questions or requirements for your deck.

Conclusion

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Differences in Deck Clips – CAMO Fasteners

Choosing the right fasteners for your deck is an important decision that can impact the overall strength and longevity of your structure. Nails and screws are the most common options, but framing hardware, invisible fastening systems, and power fasteners provide additional choices. Consider the specific requirements of your project, such as the type of decking material, local building codes, and desired aesthetics when selecting the appropriate fasteners. When in doubt, consult with a professional to ensure your deck is built safely and securely.

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