The choice of fastener is a key decision that will affect your deck’s durability and stability for years to come. Most professionals use screws to attach the deck boards and nails for structural elements of the deck.

Screws for deck boards

There are several reasons screws are superior for deck boards:

The thread of a screw offers superior holding power as it bites into the wood. A tighter connection means less shifting and squeaking on the most heavily trafficked portion of your deck.

Less deck board movement:
Wood is a natural product, and it expands and contracts as it reacts to moisture levels and temperature. Screws help mitigate the effect and keep non-structural elements looking better than they would with nails.

Ease of repair:
If repairs need to be made, it’s easier to remove screws than nails without damaging existing material. Unlike nails, screw holes can also be re-used to minimize disruption to the deck material during renovations.

Nails for structural elements

Nails are usually better for the rest of the deck. Here’s why:

Speed and ease of use:
Nails are typically faster to work with than screws. The simplicity of a hammer leads to substantial labor savings, and those savings increase as the deck gets larger.

As mentioned above, nails cut labor costs. But they’re also less expensive than screws in and of themselves, so you save on the materials side as well.

Structural elements may experience slight movement from various factors, like soil settlement, seismic activity, or changes in weight distribution. Nails provide a degree of flexibility that accommodates it, meaning the deck can adjust without undue stress on the structural framework.

The ledger board

The ledger board connection calls for special attention because of its prime importance. The choice of fastener depends on the material the ledger is attaching to. For attachments to rim joists, we recommend 6″ galvanized lag screws, and for basement walls, we recommend 6″ galvanized expansion anchors.

ledger board detail

It’s important to get the ledger board right.

More questions?

If you have more questions about decks or other subjects, we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or click the chat button on the right during business hours.