Choosing the right fastener or screw for your deck project can be a daunting task. With all of the different screws on the market, it’s hard to know which one is best for your project.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right fastener or screw for your deck and also the framing hardware you need:

Nails and Screws

Nails are sized according to length and diameter. The length is measured from the point (where the nail head rests against the wood) to the tip. The diameter is measured across the shank of the nail just below the head.

For most home and light commercial applications, 8d, 10d, or 12d nails are used for fastening joist hangers, stair stringers, and other hangers.

These nails are also used for attaching ledger boards and fascia boards. 16d or 20d nails are used to attach the heavier beams and girders.

For fastening decking boards, 4″ to 6″ long screws or nails with a diameter of at least 3/16″ are recommended. The fastener should penetrate the joist by at least 1-1/2″.

However, for the highest strength and most durability, it is best to use screws. In addition, using screws will make the decking boards less likely to “pop up” over time.

Related: Facts About Composite Decking

Types of Nails

  • Common nails
  • Box nails
  • Ringshank and spiral nails
  • Finishing nails
  • Casing nails

Common nails

Common nails are generally used for framing and attaching ledger boards. The common nail has a flat head and is made of carbon steel.

Box nails

Box nails are also used for framing and attaching ledger boards. Box nails have a small head and are also made of carbon steel.

Ringshank and spiral nails

Ringshank and spiral nails have ridges or spirals on the shank that grip the wood and prevent the nail from pulling out. These nails are ideal for attaching decking boards since they are less likely to pop up over time.

Related: Can You Install Composite Decking Over Wood Decking?

Finishing nails

Finishing nails are used for attaching trim and molding. They have a small head and are made of zinc-coated steel or stainless steel to prevent rusting.

Casing nails

Casing nails are used for attaching casing (the trim around doors and windows). They have a small head and are made of zinc-coated steel or stainless steel to prevent rusting.

Related: Cheap, Quick, and Easy Alternatives To Decking

Types of Screws

There are many different types of screws used for decking:

  • Regular Deck Screws.
  • Structural screws.
  • Hidden Decking Screws.
  • Stainless Decking Screws.
  • Composite Fasteners.
  • Lag bolts.
  • Powder-actuated fasteners.

Regular deck screws

A “regular” deck screw has a blunt tip and coarse threads. These screws are for general purpose applications and can be used in either softwood or hardwood decking.

They are either green or brown in color and made of steel that is either zinc plated or stainless steel.

The main advantage they have over most screws is the low price. As such, these are the most commonly used type of screws for attaching decking boards.

Structural screws

A “structural” screw has a sharp tip and fine threads. These screws are designed for attaching ledger boards and joists to the house.

They are also used to fasten beams and girders. They are normally thicker and longer than regular deck screws.

Structural screws are made of zinc-coated steel or stainless steel to prevent rusting.

Even though they come in various sizes, the ¼” diameter x 4” long structural screw is the most commonly used.

Hidden decking screws

The key is in the name “hidden” – these screws are designed to be used with a special tool that allows them to be driven below the surface of the decking boards.

This gives the deck a much cleaner look since there are no visible screw heads.

They are designed to work in tandem with a bracket or jig that holds the screw at the correct angle and depth.

This type of screw is typically used in hardwood decking since softwood is more likely to split.

They allow you to drill down the sides of the boards, so there is no risk of splitting.

Stainless decking screws

As the name implies, these screws are made of stainless steel to prevent rusting. They are used in both softwood and hardwood decking.

They come in two different head styles: pan head and trim head. The most popular size is the 3/4″ diameter x 2-1/2″ long trim head screw.

Unfortunately, they are more expensive than your regular wood screws.

Composite fasteners

A “composite” fastener is a type of screw that is specifically designed for use with composite decking material.

These screws are made of stainless steel or another corrosion-resistant material, and they have a special thread design that helps to prevent them from loosening over time.

The great thing about these screws is, that they don’t need any pre-drilling. This is because the composite material is soft enough that the screw can be driven right in without splitting the material.

Related: How to Stop Aluminum Corrosion Caused by Pressure-Treated Wood

Lag bolts

A “lag bolt” is a large, heavy-duty screw that is used to attach ledger boards and joists to the house. These screws are made of galvanized steel or stainless steel to prevent

Hexagonal in shape with a hexagonal head. They are at least ¼” in diameter and 3” long. The most common size is the ½” diameter x 4” long lag bolt.

They are installed using a socket wrench or impact driver.

Powder-actuated fasteners

A “powder-actuated fastener” is a type of nail that is driven into concrete or masonry using a powder-actuated tool.

These nails are made of steel or another corrosion-resistant material, and they come in various sizes.

The most common size is the 3/8” diameter x 2-1/2” long fastener.

Powder-actuated fasteners are used to attach ledger boards, joists, and beams to the house.

As you can see, there are a variety of different types of screws and fasteners that can be used for your deck.

Choosing the right one will depend on the material of your deck, the application, and your personal preference.

Be sure to do your research before making a purchase to ensure that you are getting the best possible product for your needs.

Framing Hardware

What is framing?

Framing is the process of creating the basic structure of your decking. This includes attaching the ledger board to your house, installing the joists, and putting up the beams.

The tools needed:

  • Hammer.
  • Nails or screws.
  • Tape measure.
  • Level.
  • Chalk line.
  • Saw (circular, hand, or power).
  • Drill.

The ledger board:

The ledger board is the main horizontal support beam that is attached to your house. It supports the joists and beams of your deck.

The ledger board is typically made of 2” x 8” or 2” x 10” lumber. The most common size is the 2” x 8” ledger board.

When attaching the ledger board to your house, you will need to use either nails or screws. The most common type of screw to use is the 3” deck screw.

You will also need to use a 2” x 4” or 2” x 6” piece of lumber as a spacer between the ledger board and your house. This is to ensure that there is enough space for the joists.

Heavy-Duty Screws and Bolts

When you are attaching a large post or beam to your deck, you will need to use a heavy-duty screw or bolt. The most common type of heavy-duty screw is the lag bolt.

Lag bolts are made of galvanized steel or stainless steel and they come in various sizes.

The most common size is the ½” diameter x 4” long lag bolt.

Another type of heavy-duty screw is the powder-actuated fastener. Powder-actuated fasteners are made of steel or another corrosion-resistant material and they come in various sizes.

The most common size is the 3/8” diameter x 2-1/2” long fastener.

Powder-actuated fasteners are driven into concrete or masonry using a powder-actuated tool.

When choosing a heavy-duty screw or bolt, be sure to select one that is made of galvanized steel or stainless steel. This will ensure that it will not rust or corrode over time.

Titanium Screws

Titanium screws are a great choice for decks that are made of composite material.

Titanium screws are made of a corrosion-resistant material, so they will not rust or corrode over time.

They are also very strong and durable, making them ideal for attaching ledger boards, joists, and beams to your house.

When choosing a titanium screw, be sure to select one that is at least ¼” in diameter and 3” long. The most common size is the ½” diameter x 4” long screw.

Titanium screws are installed using a socket wrench or impact driver.

Choosing the Right Size Fastener

There are three major components to your decking. Choosing the right size components is the key to having a solid deck.

  • Decking.
  • Railings.
  • Framing.

Decking

Fasten 5/4 decking to 2x joists using 8d or 10d nails.

Railings

Attach 1x trim to 4×4 posts using 3” deck screws.

Framing

Use 10d or 16d common nails to attach the ledger board to your house.

Choosing the right size fastener will depend on the application. For example, when attaching the ledger board to your house, you will need to use a 16d common nail.

This is because the ledger board is a heavy piece of lumber and it needs to be attached to your house using a strong fastener.

However, when attaching 1x trim to 4×4 posts, you will only need to use 3” deck screws. This is because the trim is much lighter than the ledger board and it does not require a strong fastener.

When in doubt, always use a larger fastener than you think you need. This will ensure that your deck is properly secured and will not come apart over time.

FAQs

What size screws for deck joists?

An 8 gauge, 2.5” coated deck screw is the most popular choice for attaching deck joists. This size screw can be used for both softwoods and hardwoods.

What is the difference between a lag bolt and a deck screw?

A lag bolt is a type of fastener that is used to attach heavy-duty objects to wood or concrete. A deck screw is a type of fastener that is used to attach lighter-duty objects to wood.

What is the difference between a powder-actuated fastener and a deck screw?

A powder-actuated fastener is a type of fastener that is driven into concrete or masonry using a powder-actuated tool. A deck screw is a type of fastener that is used to attach lighter-duty objects to wood.

Do pressure-treated lumber and composite lumber require different fasteners?

No, pressure-treated lumber and composite lumber can use the same type of fastener.

Can I use screws instead of nails to attach my decking?

Yes, you can use screws instead of nails to attach your decking. However, it is important to note that screws are not as strong as nails and they are more likely to loosen over time.

When should I use a washer with my fastener?

A washer should be used with any type of fastener that will be exposed to weather or moisture. This includes screws, bolts, and nails. The washer will help to prevent the fastener from rusting or corroding over time.

What is the difference between a galvanized fastener and a stainless steel fastener?

A galvanized fastener is made of steel that has been coated with a layer of zinc. This coating protects the steel from rust and corrosion. A stainless steel fastener is made of steel that has been alloyed with chromium and nickel. This alloy gives the steel its resistance to rust and corrosion.

Can I use a power drill to install my fasteners?

Yes, you can use a power drill to install your fasteners. However, it is important to note that power drills are not as precise as hand-held screwdrivers and they can damage the head of the fastener.

When should I use a Torx head fastener?

A Torx head fastener should be used whenever possible. This type of fastener is less likely to strip out than a Phillips head fastener.

In Summary

There are many different types of fasteners and screws that you can use for your deck.

Choosing the right type of fastener will depend on the application.

This guide should help you choose the right fastener for your deck.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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