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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Screws, Nails or Hidden Fasteners — Which Should You Use on Deck Boards?

One of the issues many novice DIY deck builders come across is determining what kind of fastener to use— screws, nails or hidden fasteners? While all perform a similar function, none of these options are interchangeable when it comes to outdoor living projects. Different deck material requires different fastening methods. For example, when installing wooden deck boards, many building professionals opt for screws as the preferred method because of their strength, easy install. On the other hand, those installing composite deck boards frequently opt for Hidden fasteners for their seamless finish and long-lasting durability. 

Why choose screws or hidden fasteners for deck boards?

Before you head to the hardware store, take a look below at why many seasoned deck builders prefer to secure deck boards with screws or hidden fasteners rather than nail them. 

  • Strength: While nails can rise up overtime and create safety hazards, screws provide excellent retention of the boards with threading to help keep the attachment secure. This helps keep decks flat and smooth underfoot, and prevents hours spent pounding nail boards back down. By the same token, hidden fasteners provide composite deck boards with superior holding power while remaining entirely concealed. With no unsightly screws or nails to look at or trip over, this can be a major advantage for anyone who’s ever caught their toe on a nail.
  • Corrosion resistance: In addition to holding better, screws won’t corrode. With stainless steel options, deck screws are coated with zinc epoxy for improved corrosion resistance. This durability factor will support a long-lasting deck, ensuring it can endure high foot traffic and the elements. At the same time, hidden deck fasteners for composite boards are not only resistant to threats of corrosion, but they also result in less damaging water penetration since the surface of the board is never punctured.
  • Easy installation and removal: In the past, many DIYers have opted for nails because of their assumption that driving nails is wildly faster than driving screws. In reality, screws take roughly about the same time to install and have a greater holding power. Similar to this, hidden fasteners also provide deck builders with quick and hassle-free installs. This is done by placing the serrated edge of the clip down into the groove of the boards, where the clips edge then bites down on the board providing a firm hold. Plus, whenever you’re ready to install the next board, simply slide the deck board into the other edge of the clip. This makes for a faster process with perfectly spaced gaps.

What type of screw or hidden fastener should you use for deck boards? How to pick the perfect one.

  • 305 stainless deck screws: These screws are a must since deck boards need to have corrosion resistance as they are constantly exposed to the elements. If you are in a highly corrosive environment, for example, within close proximity to a body of salt water, using 305 stainless steel deck screws is even more important. This will ensure the right material for a long-lasting deck application.
  • 304 stainless steel hidden clip fasteners: You will want to consider this option if you are using composite deck boards. These fasteners are still stainless steel but are designed for grooved board applications in which they be installed beneath the surface. Unlike the silver of a standard stainless steel screw head, these out-of- sight options help to create a seamless finish, eliminating the visual clutter of silver that is seen when using standard stainless steel screw heads.
  • 8 gauge, 2.5” or 3” coated deck screws: The screws used to secure deck boards to joists are typically 8-gauge with a minimum length of 2.5 inches. However, 3-inch screws are commonly used to provide extra holding power.

Need more help?

At Fortress Building Products, we’re proud to provide a helping hand as you embark on a deck build or outdoor living improvements projects. This is why we offer HULK fastening products, in addition to our family of decking products, to ensure your  hidden fasteners and deck screws can stand up to the toughest weather conditions gracefully and sustainably. For further instruction on how to install deck boards check out our installation videos. or browse our collection of installation guides.

Hidden fastener for a deck boardBox of hidden fasteners used for deck boards


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