Galvanized Nails are the most common choice for fastening pressure treated pine and cypress decking. These nails must have a coating guaranteed not to rot from the corrosive chemicals pumped into these boards meant to help fight rot and insects. As the Pressure treating industry changes chemicals to improve results, standards change to fight the changing corrosive properties that are introduced to the boards. This process has proven to be a game of “wait and see” if the nail coatings withstand the chemicals and prevent the nails from rotting.
Stainless Steel Screws are favored over nails because they do not rot or stain the wood and the threaded mechanics of screws offer much better holding power than nails. Galvanized nails are cheaper but stainless steel screws are worth the investment for a long lasting deck. Stainless Steel screws are not as hard as coated steel screws. Therefore, holes for these screws must be pre-drilled when installing superior hardwood decking products like Ipe (cumaru, tigerwood, Brazilian cherry and other) Brazilian decking choices and even composite decking. Smart-Bit by Starborn Industries is a drill bit that drills the perfect hole and counter-sink in one motion. Headcote SS screws have powder coat painted heads that virtually disappear when used on ipe, cumaru, tigerwood, Brazilian cherry and several other Brazilian decking species.GRK makes a SS trim head screw that also counter sinks nicely out of view because the BB sized head is so tiny. Ipe decking is so hard that even this small head can not be pulled through the boards.
Coated Steel Screws have the superior holding power over nails, cost less than stainless steel screws AND can actually be installed without the need to pre-drill holes. Many prefer to create a pilot hole when installing very hard ipe and cumaru Brazilian decking, which makes it easier to start the screw but the strength of these screws is still a handy attribute. GRKmakes the same trim head screw in a coated steel screw, which counter sinks nicely out of view. These screws are still coated steel, which leaves the possibility of rust stains in the future.
Hidden Deck Fasteners like Ipe Clip andDeck Clip are also very popular because your deck can be constructed without any screws on the face of the boards. The screws are visible as you look down between the cracks in the boards but hidden deck fasteners are far LESS visible than face screwed boards. The Ipe Clip Extreme is a plastic coated stainless steel clip that slips into slots cut into the sides of deck boards. The stainless steel is an optimum material (over solid plastic clips) for hidden deck fasteners and the plastic coating covers the potential shine of stainless steel between the boards. The Deck Clip, made of aluminum and painted black is another favorite when installing premium ipe Brazilian decking. The thick aluminum is strong to last a lifetime and the black color (also on the screw heads) helps the clips disappear between boards. Ipe Clip Extreme screws are driven at a 45 degree angle and screw through one of the deck boards after going through the clip. TheDeck Clip is driven straight down and does not penetrate either deck board that it holds. Therefore, the Ipe Clip Extreme will hold boards in place as they expand and contract and maintain uniform distance between boards after installation. The Deck Clip offers the advantage that you don’t need to run the screws through the deck boards, which negates the need to pre-drill. This is a time saving advantage. The aluminum clip should not be used in areas near salt water but hold up just fine for inland applications. Hidden deck fasteners made of 100% plastic do not hold up to weather and wear as well as these stainless steel and aluminum clips AND some of the plastic clips engineered for plastic on plastic contact squeak. This is a never-ending annoyance.
Hidden Fasteners Under Deck are also popular. Deckmaster makes a hidden deck fastening system that is mounted beneath the deck boards. Even when using one of the clip systems listed above, the Deckmaster fasteners can be used in areas where the clips can not – like steps, risers, start and end boards. They are available in powder coated steel for inland use and stainless steel for coastal areas. The only drawbacks to these fasteners are that the deck needs to be a workable distance from the ground and they require two people to install. One worker must hold the boards down as the other screws from the bottom. I suppose your St. Bernard could help if you could train him to stand on the right board. These fasteners are a great alternative to using plugs – they’re faster and adjustable. Once you’ve plugged premium decking like Brazilian ipe, you’ll never find them again.