IN DEPTH: DECK FASTENERS

Grabber Barracuda Compound Screw

But some believe the code standards may still be evolving. “Builders are accepting what the code says and building to that level, but they’re keeping an eye out to see if changes are going to be coming,” says GRK’s Romanski, noting that code officials may have overreacted. “It’s most important to make sure that the flashing is attached properly to keep out moisture, as deck collapses tend to be caused by rot of the ledger boards. We anticipate that the codes may change their approach again in 2015.”

The variety of changes keeps manufacturers on their toes, and it should do the same for dealers. “As a dealer, it’s hard to ensure you always have the right products and can educate builders about what they should be using with each type of material,” Simpson Strong-Tie’s Allen says. His company has developed a YouTube site with more than 50 instructional videos as well as web applications to help with selections. “In-store education can be a big challenge,” he adds.

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That’s especially true when trying to convince customers that stainless steel products provide the best value, Prime-Source’s McFarland notes.

“Our information, POP and signage all talk about you need to use it, how many you need, who recommends you use it and what the cost premium will be. Our stainlesssteel products aren’t new to the market by now, but they’re new to customers if they haven’t needed them for a project.”

Builders need to be educated, and dealers are in the best position to ensure it happens, Grabber’s Wulfenstein says.

“The wrong type of fastener can create issues of dimpling, blistering and other damage,” he says. “At that point, replacing the fastener won’t fix the problem, because the board is ruined. The dealer’s staff doesn’t always know what the best product is and may recommend the wrong one unless they’re educated on the differences.”

Keeping up to date will be especially important as the market picks up this summer and demand rises for the wide array of materials that need to be fastened. The good news is that customers are recognizing the value of using products that offer strong value. “Customers are paying more attention to what fasteners are being used,” Starborn’s Nowatzki says. “They’re willing to spend more money to get the best product.”