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Decks - Nail or Screw

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2006-11-15          136952


I will be putting down 5/4x6 cedar decking down on a new deck that I recently built. I have a pretty large surface to cover. I was originally planning on using stainless steel screws as recommended but I recently purchased a framing nailer and would like to use that instead if nails will work just as well. Anyone have thoughts or advice on this?

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2006-11-15          136953


I would only do it if you can get ss nails for the framer. Cedar deck boards do not work the heads out as pine will, but the nail heads will discolor the boards. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-11-15          136956


I dunno about a framing nailer---I've got a Paslode 30 degree and it has a pointed tip that when it shoots a nail tends to bounce enough to scar the wood; on a fence which is what I bought it for it's not that big of deal but on a deck, I would use a screw. There are ceramic-coated screws now too (at Lowes), and/or you might want to try using the type of screw used for composites which have a different under-head-design that looks like a bugle. It is supposed to not shred the material around the hole so badly. Galvaized nails might be the ticket too.

I your back gives you problems and you want to use screws, and the screws are the right kind, there's a unit (I think) made by DeWalt that either attaches to the screw gun or is a dedicated unit that has about a 3 foot extension on it that allows you to screw standing up. It uses collated or similar type of screws.

I would also go with a square-drive head screw vs. a Phillips. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-11-15          136957


There is a couple of different ways to do it. Several even involve using non-stainless fasteners.

The first way to do it is to fasten the deck from below. There are several companies out there making a similar product to do this, primarily "Deckster" (see link below) and "Deckmaster", which is just a bent strip of metal, sort of like a drywall corner protector, b ut with an extra bend, making a sort of an opened Z shape. You fasten the metal strip to the joists, then fasten each board to the strip from below where it meets each strip.

The big advantages to this are, you can use regular plated hardware in contact with Cedar or Redwood with no risk of discolouring your deck, but most importantly, for ANY type of wood, there are no perforations in the top side of the decking material. This prevents both accelerated rotting, and the "splinter in the foot" hazards.

There is another type also which I have used before, many companies make them, they are just a folded peice of metal with a couple of holes in it, and two sharp brads facing out sideways. You set one on each joist and tap one brad into the side of the deck board, then nail or screw it down to the joist, then set the next board down and tap it into the remaining brad, then start over with more fasteners. They are a little cheaper since there is less material than the ones above, and work better, IMHO, with nails too.

Best of luck. ....


Link:   Deckster Decking systems.

 
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SG8NUC
Join Date: Jan 2006
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2006-11-15          136961


I have built two decks at my place I bought the boards and screws from Home Depot. The screws are coated and are of good quality. If I had to do it again I would pre-drill the boards. Sometime the screws seating into the boards popped up splinters, bad on bare feet. The bits for the drill came with the screws and I used a 1/2 hp drill. Not one screw broke off. I think if the bit was long enough the screw would go all the way through a 4 X 4. I used a pump up sprayer with water seal and coated both decks I try to re apply once every two years. I am not the best wood worker but the decks are 5 years old and doing fine.

hope this helps ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-11-15          136966


SG, have you used the special screws used for composites on regular wood? Just wondering if that would reduce micro-splintering. ....

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SG8NUC
Join Date: Jan 2006
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2006-11-15          136968


No, that cost would have doubled my deck money. I have been told that they stopped using arsonic as a wood treatment. They use copper and something else now. This calls for a special screw, one made out of stainless steel or with a special coating. If you use this new wood and old screws they wont last 6 months so I have been told. I checked out the composites and they are real nice and should last for ever. If money was not such a great concern for me I think they would be the way to go.

Something that I did not know until I got into the deck and dock work. Was that you need special treatment for Fresh water. Fresh water had more bacteria or worse bacteria than salt water. For a pond like mine it was about $2.50 more a board for water contact. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-11-15          136969


I've heard that the lower end composites need more structure beneath them (joists) because they can't span the typical 18" spacings.

And the copper treatment; it used to be with the old stuff any thin aluminun touching it was quickly eaten away like trim work. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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oneace
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1490 south central pa
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2006-11-15          136977


I would not use a framing nailer to fasten decking as the holes are not to aesthetically pleasing. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4284 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2006-11-15          136978


No two ways about it. Use deck screws period. I had a very large redwood deck on my last house and the from the process of weathering the nails gradually worked out a little at a time allowing the deck boards to flex up and down on the nail. The nails did not pull all the way out but enough to loosen the boards. I had to go back and secure them with deck screws. They take a lot more work but are the ONLY way to go in my opinion. I will probably use them on barns and work buildings on the ranch here as well. ....

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Art White
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 6877 Waterville New York
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2006-11-15          136980


While when doing decks I've always screwed down on the decks I've built. After checking out Murfs post I think I'll be screwing up! OK-OK ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-11-15          136981


We used Ebb-Tye (sp?) fasteners on our deck. They're basically a biscuit that screws to the joist and the deck boards are biscuit-routed to receive them so there are no visible screw heads. I wouldn't use them again. The boards are really hard to remove if necessary and the water accumulates in the routed slots causing the finish to fail from that point radiating outward. ....

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wingwiper
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2006-11-16          136987


Not sure where the previous post went, I posted and it never appeared.

When putting down the deck boards, alternate the grains, one board Grain UP, the next Grain DOWN. It easy to do by looking at the ends of the board.

All wood will expand and contract with the changes in the weather and in the air. Oak is some of the worst and I have had screwheads snap off like little bullets if they were screwed in too tight.

Pick a DRY day and be sure the wood is dry, for if you try to install when there is too much moisture in te air or the wood is not entirely dry, come the first dry day, you will be ripping up your feet on SCREW heads that are sticking up.

As Murf said, pre drill your boards and countersink the heads in to below surface level. Never over tighten, allow for expansion. I use Neoprene washers to ensure my Stainless steel screws are not too tight and then I only draw up snug.

When fitting boards, be sure to allow for expansion, even in length, doing so will prevent one board expanding and pushing against another and causing curling or warping.

Once finsihed, be sure all wood is dry and then seal it with a good sealer, if you want to really control expansion (but NOT stop it) spray the edges and bottom and top of boards. Just like with a Front door, if you only treat one side, then the other side will expand more and like lift on an aircraft wing, will warp.

Some simple techniques will allow your deck to survive all weather conditions and heat changes with little affect to its appearance.

Good Luck ....

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2006-11-16          136988


I really appreciate everyone's great advice. I think I will stick to the screws as was origionally recommended to me. It will take a little more time but its probably worth the piece of mind. I will also look into option of fastening from the underside. That seems to make sense too. However, I don't want to be bent over the whole time as I have a lot of area to cover. Thanks again..... what a great forum. ....

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Blueman
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 243 Washington, PA
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2006-11-16          136989


my 1.5 cents worth: those that know me know I am tired of maintenance on my log home; so the pool deck I built this year was topped with Trex. If you are installing Trex perpendicular on 16" centers, there is no spring whatsoever, so it has plenty of strength. I used two composite deck screws (wow, ALL fasteners are expensive these days!) on each joist. I'm hoping to do nothing but have to clean this deck once per year. I also like the idea of no splinters for the bare feet, and the surface is not slippery when wet. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-11-16          136994


Wing can you explain the pyhsics behind "When putting down the deck boards, alternate the grains, one board Grain UP,
the next Grain DOWN. It easy to do by looking at the ends of the board. This helps to prevent curling."

I'm at a loss to figure out how doing this keeps the boards from curling. I was taught to lay the cup down which will help shed water. If the cup is up, it will hold water and increase cupping.
....

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2006-11-16          136996


I just built a large deck 24' x 27'. Priced SS screws - astronomical price - went with the ceramic coated. I couldn't imagine trying to screw boards in from the underside. We had a hell of a time getting the 2 x 6 boards straight using spacers and pry bars and then screwing them down, to add the effort of screwing them from the underside makes the job considerably more difficult IMO, in any case large parts of my new deck are not accessible from the underside. Boards were laid bark side on top so that boards cup downwards and water does not make a trough, 5 months later most boards now have a very slight cup, since they dont dam the water it's not noticible. I have no experience with anything other than treated SYP for wood. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2006-11-16          136997


Wing; please explain your reasons for alternatng the grain on deck boards. Having spent 30 plus yeare in the furniture business, alternating the grain in glued up panels was standard practice so that the cupping of the second board offset the cupping of the first board, fourth board offset the third, etc. till you had enough boards to complete the panel. Laying deck boards that are not attached to one another is a different animal all together.
Ann; with all due respect I'll have to differ with you on cupping direction. when a board dries out it will allways cup toward the bark side, so even tho it looks wrong deck boards should be laid bark side down. Far as fasteners are concerned, yes stainless screws would be my first choice, and predrilling the deck board is nearly a must. Frank ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-11-16          136998


We have done many, many decks using the clips with two barbs on them, the ones that go between the boards.

We use the regular friction-activated, adhesive-coated plated nails in the framing gun. All of the nailing is done from above, and there is no opportunity for discolouration since all hardware is below the deck surface.

We have yet to have been told of a single board loosening up, and some of those decks are 10+ years old.

I completely agree, the boards must ALWAYS be laid such that the cup should be down to cast water as Ann (and others) stated.

Best of luck. ....

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SG8NUC
Join Date: Jan 2006
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2006-11-16          137006


MY FATHERS,

Call it luck did not know about cupping, bark side, and whatever else. 96 degrees in the sun on the open deck laying boards I just wanted them down. They told me to lay the boards with no space between them they will space themselves I have about 1/4" between the boards.:) ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2006-11-16          137017


Use screws and buy good quality screws. Nails will eventually pop up after many years and you will be hammering them back down each year. A real pain when trying to shovel snow off the deck. Cheap screws can snap after a few years where there is tension. You will be drilling them out and replacing them. I've seen both problems on both cedar and pressure treated. ....

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wingwiper
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2006-11-17          137022


My error,

I have only built decks with ship lapping or tongue and groove. The ones I have built were eventually going to be enclosed and were built with that in mind. I didn't even think about exspansion gaps between the boards, the ones I have built were also going to have Winter storage underneath them. Under mine is some real OLD Barn Hay Rack being stored, no way I want it to get wet.

Hard

I build furniture as well, tell me I have run some 9/4 Black Cherry thru the Planer and I have New Blades and only trim less than a 1/16 at a time and I get this feathering. In the past I have been taking a small Propane torch and burning the wood lightly and then Palm Sanding with fine grit. Any suggestions to save some time?

I tried to post a reply at least five times before this one, so you may see some others pop up. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2006-11-17          137023


I saw what Murf suggested on one of those TV Do-it-Yourself shows. It looks real clean. I've always used screws but never have used cedar boards. Regular boards warp by twistin and heaving. Screws in that case are the only way to go. I always pre-drill the holes and c'sink them for an even, straight look (the engineer in me). To c'sink, I use a considerably larger nominal size drill and clamp a shaft collar around it. I use that as a drill stop to get even depth control. ....

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Decks - Nail or Screw

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2006-11-17          137025


WING; Really don't recall having that problem, but I know there are several different specie of cherry and maybe I've never had black cherry. I've found that dull blades will cause some tearout in gummy cherry, maybe that isn't the correct name for it but it's what we call it around here. It has the dark spots about 1/4-1/2 in. in diamater scattered in the grain. The sawmill where I get it from said they used to sell it for barn lumber, but now he gets a premium for it. I don't really know a lot about it, but I think it is pockets of resin that somehow get trapped in the wood. A little more on the subject of air drying lumber. I've got several old what we called "Monkey Ward" "Lo Load 60" wagon gears that usually sell for 50 bucks on an auction that make real neat lumber drying racks, then you just pull it to the shop, take off what you need and put it back in the shed. ....

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wingwiper
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2006-11-17          137029


Hard

This Black Cherry was originally Garage dried (basement of house) and I bought it and brought it home. I have it under my Deck and it has aborbed alot of moisture, so what you say may well be the case. The moisture may have brought more of the resin to the surface.

....

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Jackpot
Join Date: Nov 2006
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2006-11-19          137110


I used 10d galvanised ring nails on my cedar deck,,,,,,,,,,,,,,no problems. Screws are prpbably better if you have the time and $$.

JP ;) ....

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unit5alive
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 250 Latrobe Pa
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2006-11-22          137265


I used deck screws and still had a few boards lift breaking the heads off the screws , Craig. ....

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kwolfe
Join Date: Aug 2006
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2006-12-04          137558


I would use screws. Finished my 24' by 30' decl last year. 3 screws with pilot holes every 16". That was a lot of drill time. I used the ones from Lowes that are coated tan. Supposed to be that special coating (I am no expert). So far so good. ....

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