But some see a return to face-fastening screws. “I’m hearing more and more people who want to screw down deck boards rather than use hidden fasteners,” Screw Products’ Miller says. “Hidden fasteners still rule the market, but more contractors are preferring to screw down the face to provide more integrity and strength for the whole system.” Kabel agrees that many still want to face-screw, leading to Deck- Wise expanding its face-fastening line with color-matched screws.
Other preferences are changing, too. “We’re seeing more interest in star-drive type structural fasteners,” says Jacek Romanski, marketing director for GRK Fasteners. “There’s definitely a continued trend to star-drive fasteners overall. Contractors love them for framing and deck applications because they go in quickly and hold the boards securely.” Some contractors have expressed a preference for colored plugs to cap face-fastened screws, leading Starborn to introduce a PVC plug system later this year, Nowatzki says.
Being able to match colors definitely is the expectation today, but it creates challenges. “Primary colors are popular for most decks, especially white, brown or gray,” says Mike McFarland, director of nonferrous product lines at PrimeSource.
“Our goal with our colors is to keep it simple for the customer. Colors that generally match a wide variety of boards are better for dealers than carrying a large number of products that precisely match one type of board. They want fewer inventories to cover their needs.”
Customers also are questioning the durability of fasteners. “Warranties are longer on products to reassure customers, and that is making them think about the long-term use of the deck,” says Clark Allen, senior product manager for fasteners at Simpson Strong-Tie. “Especially with low-maintenance products, customers want premium fasteners to maintain the level of the boards’ durability. Stainless steel is more expensive upfront, but it pays off in the long run, and over the number of years that the deck will be used, it’s not much more to spend.” PrimeSource’s McFarland agrees that stainless steel is receiving more attention.