Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Delivering a beautifully finished look in a deck is always one of the core goals of my contracting work. This means taking great care to provide a smooth and seamless surface. For years, I’ve been incredibly particular about my installation methods: spacing my deck screws just right, driving them into the boards to as perfect a depth as possible. Where deck screws are visible, I ensure they match the boards or overall aesthetic.
One of the best options for this seamless look is to get rid of visible deck screws altogether. To do this, you’ll need hidden fasteners. Below, I’ll explain a bit more about the difference these can make.
Why Not Just Use Standard Deck Fasteners?
Most decks are built by attaching the boards to the joists below with a deck screw. Some builders or contractors are more careful and fastidious than others when it comes to sinking them in. The general rule of thumb is to sink the head of the screw slightly below flush with the board. This allows more stain to get into the board around where the screw sits and helps camouflage the screw to match the rest of the board.
When this isn’t done well – when a screw is either driven in too far or not far enough – this can result in localized weathering, which can mean splintering or cracking around the screw holes. And even when screws have been sunk in perfectly, your deck won’t truly have that perfectly clean feel. You’ll still be able to see the screw heads, and over time, they’ll almost certainly end up sticking above the deck surface. Not only is that unattractive, but it also can be unsafe for bare feet. To get a truly seamless look, you’ll need to hide the stitching, and the most effective way to do that is by building the deck surface using hidden fasteners.
How Hidden Fasteners Work
Hidden fasteners are typically metal clips that attach to the base of the decking board or are inserted into a specially designed grooved board and screwed into the decking joist. Grooved boards create the opportunity for an interlocking deck below the surface, while the surface itself remains smooth and seamless. Functionally speaking, this arrangement of interlocking boards produces a stronger deck, as the additional connections between the boards work to buttress one other. With a system like this, you’ll want to choose a hidden fastener system that is well-designed--high quality hidden fastener systems will stay strong and resist corrosion while being easier to use than cheaper ones.
A Sleek and Modern Aesthetic
One of the qualities of a deck with hidden fasteners that the decking boards are often spaced more tightly together. Because there are fewer ground-revealing gaps between the boards, there is also a sense of weightlessness. In the right surroundings, like an elevated deck at a home in the woods, it can feel a bit like walking on a platform suspended effortlessly in the air.
The look that hidden fasteners produce is about as sleek and modern as one is going to get when using boards to create a deck. There are no screw heads to catch the eye, and the deck joists are well hidden from view due to the snug fit of the decking boards. What remains is a flat, textured plane, punctuated by the rhythmic and changing movement of light and shadow.
If you’re looking to give your deck a sleek and modern look, then a hidden fastener system may be just the thing for your project. One of the most functional systems out there is the Hulk fastener system manufactured by Fortress Building Products. Designed to be used with their grooved composite decking boards, the T-shaped fasteners are easy to install and durable. While they do take a little more time to install than regular deck screws, I (and my clients) think they’re well worth it. And if you have other projects in the works, take a minute and look around Fortress®’ other unique building products like fencing, railing, and ornamental wood ties. They’re all just as durable and well-designed as their hidden deck clips.