Choosing The Right Fastener

Some things to consider when looking for the right fastener:

What kind of materials are you working with?

  •          Wood to Wood
  •          Wood to Metal
  •          Metal to Metal
  •          Composites
  •          Treated Lumber
  •          Aluminum

 Stainless steel fasteners are the only recommended fasteners for use with cedar and redwood, due to the higher amounts of tannic acid found in these woods.

Chemicals used to prevent rot and insect infestation in pressure treated lumber may increase fastener corrosion as well. Keep in mind also, that most pressure treated lumber is yellow pine and, although considered a soft wood, is pretty hard and splits pretty easily. Therefore more care is needed when fastening near the ends and sides of the pieces being fastened. Often it is best to drill a pilot hole first. (Most hardwoods will benifit from using pilot holes as well.)

Grip-Rite makes what they call PrimeGuard Plus.These nails are a coated and stainless steel fastener and carry a lifetime guarantee against rust and corrosion when used with any treated lumber.

The Grip-Rite hot dipped and exterior galvanized fasteners are also approved for use with treated lumber, Tho I would check the warranty vs type of pressure treatment being used…

In softer woods and woods that are not treated, screws or ring shank nails will give greater holding power. Smooth nails and even spiral nails will not hold as well.

Now days, plastic bags and waste wood are recycled to make what is known as “Composite Lumber” This material is used extensively outdoors as it holds up well thru all kinds of weather. The manufacturing process makes for some special characteristics so special fasteners have been developed for installing these materials.

Again,Grip-Rite makes PrimeGuard Plus composite deck screws in colors that match the most popular composite decking hues.

Most hardware stores and lumber yards carry an extensive line of Grip-Rite fasteners.

When attaching to steel: Thicker steel may require a self-drilling point, whereas a sharp or self-piercing point may be able to be used for thinner steel like aluminum siding, gutters, and sheet metal.

To determine the length of fastener needed, here are a few rules of thumb to consider:

–   For any material-to-wood 3/4″ to 1″ penetration into the 2nd piece will normally  be required.

–   Steel-to-steel or composite-to-steel connections will require three screw threads to be exposed on the back side.

–   Nails and screws are usually measured from under the head to the point. Two exceptions are finish nails and casing nails which are measured from their outside/top to their points.

To determine how many fasteners will be needed: 

Framing – estimate that one pound of nails will frame 10′ for 16″ on-center framing.
Drywall – estimate that one pound of 1-1/4″ screws will apply nine 4’x8′ sheets of drywall.
Roofing – estimate that five pounds of nails will apply three squares of shingles.
Siding – estimate that five pounds of nails will apply two squares of siding.
Decking – estimate that five pounds of 2″ screws will apply 500 lineal feet of top decking.

See our charts for info on quantities per pound and how many nails to use when installing other flooring boards.

Screws Versus Nails:

Nails were developed before screws and most applications started out using nails. Some applications have since moved on to using screws because of the better holding power screws provide.
Nails are still most commonly used to fasten wood to wood, but are also used with masonry, drywall, and plastic.
Screws can be used with almost all materials, but are exclusively recommended when attaching to steel. (although special nails can be used with a power actuated gun.)

Here’s a few terms I picked up from the people over at Grip-Rite:

Bright – Bright, uncoated steel finish intended for use where corrosion resistance is not required.
Blued – Degreased and heat-cleaned to form thin blue oxide film required by lathers.
Cement coated – Resin coating which provides short-term holding power.
Vinyl coated – Eases nail driving and provides greater holding power.
Phosphate coated – Chemically treated with a gray ferric phosphate protective coating. Surface is also etched for greater holding power. Good base for paints & other finishes.
Gold zinc – Gold-colored zinc applied over electrogalvanized surface for additional
Corrosion resistance and for aesthetic appeal.
Electrogalvanized – Zinc coating applied to steel with an electrical charge. Offers limited resistance to rust.
Mechanically galvanized – Zinc coating applied by tumbling with powdered zinc and glass beads. Offers increased corrosion resistance, comparable to hot dipped galvanized when equivalent amount of zinc is used.
Hot dipped galvanized – Zinc coating applied by dipping into molten zinc.
Exterior galvanized – A proprietary zinc/polymer coating that offers equal or superior corrosion protection to traditional hot dipped galvanizing. PrimeSource may provide exterior galvanized or hot dipped galvanized fasteners interchangeably, depending upon market conditions.
PrimeGuard Ten® – Proprietary coating that carries a 10-year guarantee against rust and corrosion when used with treated lumber.
PrimeGuard Plus® coating – Proprietary coating with a lifetime guarantee against rust and corrosion, including when used with treated lumber.
Stainless steel – Lifetime guarantee against rust and corrosion. Use when working with cedar, redwood, or treated lumber.
Aluminum – For specialty applications when working with aluminum, such as gutters and trim. Lifetime guarantee against rust and corrosion. Not for use with treated lumber.
Copper – For specialty applications when working with copper or where appearance is a factor (copper weathered by age and exposure to elements can provide desirable appearance).

A big thank you to the people at “Grip-Rite” for all their helpful info!!

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