There’s no denying the fact that a patio deck constitutes an excellent addition to your home and a substantial boost to the value of your property. That is, if you utilize the correct materials for your climate and the optimal installation techniques; there’s nothing worse than creaking, shabby wooden menace that threatens to collapse at every step.
While most homeowners understand that the quality of the wood or composite materials utilized in the construction are essential for the durability of the structure, the importance of the fasteners is often underestimated. Before reviewing the top 5 categories of fasteners employed in this type of project, let’s go over the basic guidelines that apply for all of them.
Critical properties and installation
First and foremost, let’s not forget that decks are OUTDOOR constructions and therefore, are subjected to moisture, temperature variations, so on and so forth. Naturally, the wood is protected by the coat of sealant applied on it, but the metal fasteners will need to be able to withstand corrosion and account for the inevitable warping of the planks. Consequently, opting for stainless steel or hot dipped galvanized fasteners is highly recommended in outdoor projects.
Secondly, the length of the fastener’s penetration into the lower plank should be at least the same as the one of the upper plank or, if possible, 1.5 times greater. For instance, assuming you are trying to attach two wooden boards with an individual thickness of 1.5 inches, the length of the fastener that penetrated both of them all the way should be of 3 inches or, if possible 3.5 inches.
The types of fasteners and their characteristics
Here are your options in terms of patio deck fasteners:
- Nails, generally preferred by contractors and DIY fans because of their speedy and simple installation, via either nail gun or the traditional hammer passed down from generation to generation; note that a nail with a smooth shank is less efficient in the long run and that a spiral/grooved shank version constitutes a better choice;
- Screws, a better alternative to nails mainly due to their superior fastening capabilities as well as the fact that they can be extracted without denting the wooden planks in the process; galvanized screws are recommended, particularly for composite materials, but the stainless steel versions also work well with various types of wood such as cedar or tropical hardwood;
- Bolts, the stronger relative of nails and screws, employed in heavy duty fastening jobs to guarantee the structural integrity of critical frame elements in the deck; inserting a carriage bolt mandates drilling pilot holes as well as utilizing nuts and washers to prevent it from sinking into the planks and losing grip over time;
- Hidden fasteners, a newly emerging trend comprising of clips and continuous fasteners; a slightly more complex and lengthier installation, their trump card consists of eliminating the need for nails or screws on the surface of the deck’s planks;
- Specific connectors, including brackets for the staircase, hanger joists, bases and posts for the caps, etc.; it’s recommended to opt for hot dipped galvanized elements or at least stainless steel ones if you plan to utilize these fastening options.
Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.