Screws vs. hidden fasteners While the difference between using hidden fasteners and face-screwing your deck floor is mostly a cosmetic issue, there are a few other considerations. There is a hidden fastener for just about every decking product; and there is a color-matched screw for just about every product too. Face-screwing is generally faster than using hidden fasteners, but many people prefer the clean look of hidden fasteners. On many hidden fasteners, the leading edge of the first deck board installed and the trailing edge of the last piece installed on each section will be face-screwed. This can frequently be hidden under the railing, but it is worth noting. Also, when installing picture-frame decking and other decorative patterns face screws are sometimes required. Check out the fastener you plan to use. If you have questions or need advice, please click here.
How long should my screw be? If you are using a manufactured product, please check with the manufacturer for specific guidelines. Generally though, 1-1/2" penetration into the floor framing is desired. On most decking, this means using a 2-1/2" screw if you are face screwing; and a 1-1/4-2" screw if you are using a hidden fastener, depending on the type of fastener.
If you are using a composite or PVC decking material for the flooring material and you decide to use face screws, do you have to use a screw designed specifically for composite materials? No, you don't. Should you? Yes you should. First of all, regular deck screws are made to go through wood. Composite materials are much denser than most woods, so getting a regular screw through them can be very difficult. Screws designed for composite materials have specially designed heads and threads to allow them to drive much easier and seat better. The right screw will significantly reduce your installation time. The other reason to use a screw made for composite materials is the head size. Regular deck screws have large heads on them to keep soft woods from moving. Alternative decking materials such as PVC and wood-plastic composites are much more stable than wood, so they don't require a large head to hold them down. Smaller screw heads make the deck look much cleaner, and the screws are less obtrusive. Isn't that what you want out of your deck screws: Better performance and a more inconspicuous head?
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