Batten Down the Hatches! Tips for Finding the Right Deck Fastener

Regardless of if you are in the middle of your DIY deck project or if you have plans to build one in the near future, finding the right fastener is essential. Some tips and information regarding screws, nails, and framing hardware can be found here to ensure you have the right tools for the job. 

Getting to Know You: Nails vs. Screws 

Nails are sized by how long they are, usually designated by a penny, or d, size. The Gauge or diameter will increase as the penny size increases. For example, a 16d nail is fatter and longer than an 8d. 

Some of the most common types of nails that are used and that you may use for the construction of your deck are listed here. 

  • Common Nails: Used for general framing with larger heads and thicker shanks. It will hold well but difficult to drive and may cause the wood to split. 
  • Box Nails: These are thinner than common nails but otherwise the same size. They are a good option for minimizing wood splitting.
  • Spiral or Ringshank Nails: These are designed to grip the fibers of the wood and won’t easily come out. They are very hard to remove. 
  • Finishing Nails: Feature slender shanks along with barrel-shape, small heads. They can be used for trip work and will allow you to countersink the heads. 
  • Casing Nails: Heftier versions of finishing nails with more holding power. 

The modern screw can also be found in various styles. A Quality option is the #10 decking screw, which is usually available in 2.5- or 3.5-inch lengths. Modern decking screws will be coated to ensure corrosion resistance. They are tapered, sharp, and self-sinking. You can drive these quickly using a cordless drill or driver. Make sure you have matched the screwdriver bit that you are using to the screw head. Most decking screws will be machined using a Phillips, squire, or a combination head. The square head version is going to drive more securely into the wood. 

Nails or Screws – What Option to Choose?

Today’s screws are just as easy and fast to drive as nails and they have more holding power. If you can drive them accurately, without stripping the screw’s head, they are also easier to take out than nails. There are some people who don’t like how screw heads look because water may puddle inside them. This doesn’t happen with a nail head unless it is driven too deep. 

On the downside, if you happen to miss the head of the nail with your hammer, or if you drive it in too far, you may damage the wood. It’s also more difficult to take the nail out without damaging the wood. 

When it comes to choosing the right fastener, there are more than a few factors to consider. Be sure to keep the differences mentioned here in mind to ensure the desired results are achieved.