In Depth Extra: Deck Fasteners

A lag bolt alternative, GRK Fasteners’ RSS Rugged Structural Screws’ W-Cut provides low installation torque for faster drive time. A Zip Tip eliminates pre-drilling, and a unique thread design and washer-style head deliver superior clamping force on the first drive. They are now available in marinegrade 316 stainless steel for ultimate corrosion resistance and all-weather protection.

GRK Fasteners

Deckmaster G6 and GTT6 deck clips from Grabber provide hidden fastening for a range of decking products, including ipe, Trex, MoistureShield, and NyloDeck (G6) and TimberTech and AZEK (GTT6). A new design offers a strong four-wing uni-body construction, 30% more steel, and 2,000-hour GrabberGard corrosion protection.

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Grabber G6

Maze Nails manufactures double hot-dipped galvanized and stainless steel nails for all types of decking including treated wood, composite, cedar and redwood. Developed to be rust-resistant, Maze Nails’ ring and spiral shank nails are designed for increased holding power into decking products. Maze Nails STORMGUARD® contain a thick coating of zinc designed to provide maximum corrosionresistance. Maze nails are constructed to meet and exceed ASTM A 153 specification for hotdip galvanizing.

Maze NAILS

Match Game

Face fastening offers numerous options to preserve beauty, as well. Most notably, nearly every manufacturer offers screws with heads that coordinate with popular composite colors and wood tones.

“We still see popularity of face-fastening, particularly on the coasts where stainless is a must,” Park says. Simpson Strong-Tie makes its carbon steel, 305 stainless steel, and 316 stainless steel DCU composite fasteners in 11 colors. “You don’t have to sacrifice the look when using stainless steel and face fastening.”

Starborn Industries’ Headcote 305 and 316 screws blend with wood decking including cedar, ipe, and mahogany. National Nail offers two colors of bugle-head screws for treated lumber and 10 color-matched screws that coordinate with synthetic products.

As an alternative option, DeckWise offers hardwood plug kits that cover the screw hole in the top of the board. The company’s new plug cutting bit allows installers to cut hardwood plugs on site if extras are needed.

That same trend is also driving interest in screws over nails, says Paul Redwood, vice president of pro sales for Huttig-Grip, a division of Huttig Building Products. “In the cases where wood is being used, people are using screws over nails—nails don’t look as nice as screws,” he says. “Nail guns can break the skin of the wood, while screws are driven flush. It’s not just about holding power and integrity, but also the aesthetics.”

Users are opting for higher quality too, Redwood says; where they once were satisfied with a gold or dacrotized screw, users now prefer fasteners with greater corrosion resistance such as polymer-coated screws or even stainless steel.


Huttig Building Products markets a full line of exterior fasteners under the Huttig- Guard brand. The line features three grades of fasteners marketed as Pro, Extreme, and Stainless and caters to all users from the weekend warrior to the custom builder.Huttig Guard fasteners


Starborn Industries’ now offers shorter-length versions of its fasteners, ideal for rooftop decks, across three of its major product lines: Pro Plug System for Wood (shown), Pro Plug System for PVC and Composite, and Cap-Tor xd.

Starborn Industries

Rather than just rows and rows of boxes, displays such as this one from Simpson Strong-Tie can help builders understand their options and what fasteners work best for each application.

Simpson Strong Tie Display

Navigating the Options

With the huge variety of fasteners on the market, it’s essential for dealers to understand which are suitable for each material and climate. In particular, composite decking manufacturers often provide a list of approved hidden fasteners for their products.

Depending on the type of material and the shape of the boards, composite decking planks may require a particular type of hidden system. The same goes for traditional screws. Certain types of screws are designed to prevent mushrooming and other challenges specific to composites and capped products.

For wood, the type of hidden fastener comes down to the type and where it’s installed, Park says. Simpson, for example, offers three spacing options: a 3/32″ for the tightest look, ideal for ipe. For mahogany or cedar, which expand more, a 3/16″ or 1/4″ is recommended. Areas with lots of pine needles or applications such as docks may also call for wider spacing.

DeckWise also offers three different gap sizes for its hidden fasteners. The Ipe Clip Extreme has a small gap of 3/32″ for hardwoods like ipe, tigerwood, or cumaru. The Ipe Clip Extreme 4 offers a composite 5/32″ gap, and the Ipe Clip ExtremeKD has the typical 1/4″ composite gap spacing.

“One of the biggest things a dealer should look at is the overall strength of a deck fastener and uplift testing results,” says DeckWise’s Kabel. “They also need to look at what the fastener is made from. Is it all metal? Is there a protective coating? How long will it last in harsh climates?”

Indeed, it’s vital to understand which fasteners and coatings can be used with treated wood, since some of the preservative chemicals were found to be corrosive. Hot-dipped galvanized is minimum for nails for use with ACQ and other treatments. For screws, they must be polymer coated or stainless steel. In coastal environments, 316 stainless is optimal to prevent corrosion from salt spray.

“Educate the consumer on avoiding the downside of corrosion—unsightliness, structural failure, replacement,” says Huttig-Grip’s Redwood. “Understand your fasteners and how they work with various materials.”

Displays are a key detail for educating buyers. “Anytime you have a good tabletop display where people can see the fasteners, it generally drives sales,” says Simpson Strong-Tie’s Park. “Anytime you can put it where people can see it and touch it without opening the carton is ideal. On the shelf it looks like a wall of boxes. When you can pull out the individual fasteners on a tabletop display it really shows up.”

Among its many dealer marketing opportunities, National Nail offers mobile display units that can be easily situated in high-traffic areas and repositioned during key seasons. “We want to make sure customers aren’t leaving the store without everything they need,” says product manager Greg Groenhout.

For high-margin items, Huttig-Grip’s Redwood has seen dealers be successful using looping video to showcase a fastener’s ease of use, longevity, and other features. And don’t be scared of variety. “In lumberyards, typically what they’ll do is go with a line of deck fasteners and not necessarily offer good-better-best,” says Redwood. “This really is limiting the kind of customer that wants to buy that type of fastener, and it limits the ability to upsell—to give the consumer the best option.”

GRK’s Marketing Manager Craig Christiansen agrees. “What’s worked for us is helping the dealer become a destination for a brand. We’ve found that pros tend to come into a brand for a specific application but then stay loyal to that brand once they do; [therefore,] having the full line available is important— they want the product available when they want it.”

“The deck fastener market has been driven by the need for more and more specialized product—new screw types, materials, colors, and finishes—to keep up with advances in PVC, composite, and hardwood decking products,” says Steve Gertner, vice president of marketing for Starborn Industries. Because this trend has resulted in dealers having to carry a large number of SKUs, Starborn recently launched an Inventory Management program for its Pro Plug System for PVC and composites; plugs and screws are available for sale separately, instead of only in complete kits, to help dealers increase turns and lower costs.

GRK Fasteners has a large sampling program, containing up to seven different screws and information, along with a bit. “It initiates trial,” Christiansen explains. “Once they can try it and see the benefits, that’s what makes them convert.”