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DECK FASTENERS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Believe it or not, there is more to decking than just the timber used. Deck fastening also plays a large role in the durability and satisfaction derived from your home decking. Therefore , it is important not only to use the right Timber but also the appropriate fastener.

A lot of factors need to be considered before choosing a deck fastener these include the location, type of decking timber, type of joist , exposure, labor and cost.
There are many types of deck fastening systems which includes:

1. Face Fix with Screws
2. Face Fix with Decking Nails
3. Concealed Clip Systems
4. Sharkstooth
5. CAMO Fasteners

Each deck fastening system has their peculiarity strengths and weakness which may make them more suitable for certain decking works as against others.

Note: there are other fastening methods available, but my research shows that they are generally variants of the above 5 methods.

1. FACE FIX WITH SCREWS

Wood screws are a popular means of fixing decks, even though more advanced fixing methods are becoming popular by the day.

screws ss

Fig. 1: Wood Screws

Screws are reputed for being
i. Easy to remove when replacement are needed.
ii. Provides reasonable longevity.
iii. Deck screws have greater pop out resistance than nails.
However, using screws have some downside including:
i. Standard screws are brittle and will fail when subjected to large shear forces such as that for
joist attachment.
ii. Screws take a longer time(than nails) to install.
iii. More costly than nails.

Deck screws are available with different coatings such as the Galvanized, Coated and the Stainless steel screws.

Stainless steel screws are the most expensive screws but they offer more strength and protection than both Galvanized and Coated screws especially in extreme environmental conditions and are also resistant to staining.
Coated deck screws while slightly more expensive than galvanized screws remains the most popular choice for decking.
On the basis of shape decking screws are classified as:
i. Wood Screws: These are the common deck fastener for attaching a board down to a sub-structure.
They have great holding power and durable enough to be used even in corrosive pressure treated lumber.

 

ii. Composite Deck Board Screws
They are a very hard torque-resistant screws with reduced root diameter suitable for highly dense materials.

composite deck
Fig. 2: Composite deck screws

iii. The Reverse Thread Screws
They are similar to the Composite deck board screws, but their main difference lies in the upper threads just under the head.
The fine threads are designed to push down any material that rises up as the main part of the screw is being driven into the board.

revearse
Fig. 3: Reverse thread screw.

2. FACE FIX WITH NAILS

Decking nails have been used for fixing decks for a long time before other fasteners came on board. And it still remains the most popular fastening method especially among hobbyist deck builders.

Fig. 4: Decking nails.

dome-head-decking-nail-stainless-steel-316

Fig. 4: Stainless steel, twist shank decking nail.

Decking nails also come in a variety of coatings;

Galvanized nails are the most commonly used nail for deck construction. They offer moderate corrosion resistance and are inexpensive.

Stainless steel nails are available at a considerably higher cost but they offer greater rust protection and are resistant to wood discoloration. There is also Aluminium deck nails which are softer than the other two, they are prone to rust and are usually not recommended for deck construction.

According to their shank patterns, nails are categorized as common or smooth , ring or deformed , spiral and coated shanks

Nails fastening has refused to die off even in the presence of more advanced fasteners because of the following reasons:

i. Nails are easy to install.
ii. Nails handle wood movement much better than screws.
iii. They can withstand shear force from joist fixing without snapping.
iv. They are cheaper compared with other fasteners.

However, nail decks are prone to :
i. squeaking as the wood dries out.
ii. Snapping out of decks.

Minimum nail size for hardwood decking is the 50×2.5 flat or dome-head nails. For treated softwoods a 50×2.5 flat-head ring shank or 65×2.5 flat-head is recommended. In general, it is recommended use a nail that is at least 3 times the thickness of the material you are nailing through.

Nails sizes are also measured according to gauges(ga) and pennies(d). The common gauge sizes for nails 15&16-ga,18-ga, 21&23-ga.

3. CONCEALED CLIP SYSTEMS

Concealed or hidden deck-board fasteners come in a variety of flavors. The first to be developed was the prong type followed by tracks, biscuit systems, and, recently, clips that either interlock or fit in grooves cut along the sides of the boards.

concealed clip1

Fig. 5: Concealed Deck clips
PROS
i. Gives a clean and beautiful finish.
ii. Low risk of corrosion.
iii. Allows for the movement of woods as season changes limiting the number of split boards.
iv. No risk of pop up hazards.

CONS
i. Decks built with a variety of concealed fasteners are prone to movement and creaking.
ii. Requires more work to install.

concealed clip2

Fig. 6: Concealed clips in composite decking system

4. SHARKSTOOTH

Sharkstooth is a new type of concealed deck fastener designed as an alternative to the traditional nail or screw.

sharkstooth-nail-fitted
Fig, 7: Sharkstooth fastener
The sharkstooth fastener offers the following advantages:
i. It is effective and long-lasting method of fastening a deck together.
ii. Prevents moisture buildup, rot and deterioration.
iii. Allows even spacing of decking boards.
iv. It is corrosion resistant.
v. It is suitable for use with both hard wood and soft wood decking boards.

However, Sharkstooth fasteners are relatively expensive and requires more work to install compared with nails and screws.

5. CAMO FASTENERS

This is another type of hidden deck fastener. It is versatile and it is compatible with a wide range of decks including Hardwood and composite decks.

CAMO fasteners can be Stainless Steel or Coated Deck fasteners. They are available in 350, 700 and 1750 Count packs.

Also, they are available in different lengths such as 1-7/8 inch fasteners and the 2-3/8 inch fasteners. A 1-7/8 inch screw length is recommended for 3/4 to 1-1/4 inch deck boards and 2-3/8 inch screw length for the 1-1/2 – 2 deck boards

CAMO fasteners have companion installation kits that support smooth and easy installation.
They can be installed using the CAMO Marksman Pro or the standard Marksman fastener installers which is appropriate for hobbyist.

camo1

Fig. 8: Camo maskman pro with screws and drivers

PROS
i. Creates a fastener-free deck surface.
ii. Barefoot friendly deck.
iii. No pre-drilling required

CONS
i. Involves large spacing of woods which makes decks prone to squeaking. Can also pose an issue when boards are varying in width as board gaps are harder to adjust.
ii. Relatively expensive
Now that you know more about Deck fasteners, hopefully you will consider giving it a try and remember to always use the recommended fastener size for all your decking works.