IN DEPTH: FASTENERS

Manufacturers also are seeking a middle ground between stainless-steel fasteners’ durability and their cost. “Stainless-steel fasteners are being used more often, especially in coastal areas, but they’re not required elsewhere,” Grabber’s Wulfenstein says. “Our products can provide the needed longevity and quality to meet the needs of those projects without going to the length of buying stainless-steel.”

The key is whether the fasteners comply with ASTM B117’s salt-spray requirement of at least 1,000 hours, he notes. “People who use stainless steel often don’t need to go to that length for their requirements. They can meet the need and still save money.”

Customers across the board are learning that a small upgrade in price can make a big difference to the project. “With us, it’s all about the upgrade,” says Kim Pohl, marketing director at Maze Nails. “Too many contractors and homeowners have been sorely disappointed to find their homes and projects stained and ruined by cheap import nails that have lousy zinc coatings. There’s really no excuse for it. Nails are such a small part of the overall project that it doesn’t pay to skimp on the nails.”

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 Star-Drive Heads Popular

Star-drive heads also are becoming more dominant. “Star-heads have become the preferred configuration,” Screw Products’ Miller says. “They give better grip and contact. There’s no end load or stripping. They lock into the bit like a gear and provide better torque.”

Starborn’s Crossley agrees. “Stardrive deck fasteners have continued to become dominant based on contractor demand. We began shifting our entire exterior and deck-fastening lines to star drives more than two years ago.”

Adds Grabber’s Wulfenstein, “Square, recessed heads are still popular and offer good drive, but once they fail, they fail really fast. They’re also hard to back out, whereas star-drives are easier. All of our high-end fasteners are using the stardrive head now because it’s the preferred design.”

Simpson Strong-Tie’s Allen states, “We’re moving our new products in that direction due to the better torque provided, which speeds up the installation. Our goal is to find ways to reduce torque in all our screws to increase speed. We’re looking at new tip designs and other factors to find the most effective approaches.”

The use of collated or coiled fasteners also leads to star-drive heads, he adds. “When driving with auto-feed systems, it’s easier to stay engaged with those shapes.” Collated fasteners are gaining popularity, he notes. “The collated business is thriving and continues to grow. More builders want to use collated tools and fasteners because they can work with them faster, giving them labor savings.”

Adds GRK’s Romanski, “Coils are getting larger, allowing more nails to be driven with less time spent changing rolls. It creates a heavier tool, but the work moves faster, especially for floor decking. It’s easier from a weight standpoint to do that work with a heavier gun. These are more screw-related, but nails also are being used.”

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