By Chip Magner
Decking is no longer the square or horizontal add-on of yesterday designed only for summer use or for the occasional barbecue. Many of today’s decks now function as an outdoor room, designed to flow seamlessly from the indoors to the outdoors for relaxation, dining and entertaining.
Deck areas have become more intricate, with complete outdoor kitchens, theaters, electronics and built-in furniture.
In addition to the multitude of new product introductions such as beautiful composite and PVC finishes, colors and textures, key advancements in fastening have greatly enhanced decks’ long-term use, safety and beauty.
Unfortunately, there are still builders and do-it-yourselfers who skimp on fasteners – after spending thousands on decking.
Fastening methods count for a lot
According to the North American Decking and Rail Association (NADRA), deck failures most often result from a combination of faulty work, poor maintenance and age, especially if built with poor fastening choices, such as nails or the wrong type of screws.
Here is a look at the commonly accepted fastening techniques and some next generation solutions:
Face fastening is a still the most commonly used method for ensuring the structural integrity of decks. This includes the installation of stainless steel screws that resist corrosion in nearly any climate or environment. ACQ compatible, these screws also offer effective and affordable fastening solutions for all aspects of a deck, from the substructure to the deck boards as well as materials ranging from treated lumber, hardwood and cedar to composite, capstock and PVC.
Hidden fastening systems utilize clips that are fastened to the joist beneath the surface of deck boards, enabling a fastener-free surface finish. These clips attach to most grooved deck boards to ensure quick and easy installations with automatic ¼-inch gapping. Made with stainless steel, hidden clip systems offer maximum durability and security.
Edge-fastening, a system developed by National Nail and its CAMO brand, creates a fastener-free surface while also reducing cracking and moisture absorption. The system is relatively new but has been extensively field tested with all popular wood species, composites and PVC decking.
This system is comprised of a proprietary guide, deck screws and driver bits, driven with a power drill into the side of each board and into the joist. This approach prevents racking and adds stability.
Guides are designed to fit standard and narrow boards and offer a variety of spacing choices, such as a no-gap option for treated wood decks that can also be used with secondary spacers when wider gaps are desired.
Outdoor living with comforts of home
“Customers are constantly looking for outdoor deck styles that mirror the indoors,” says Dom Paragano, president and owner of D.L. Paragano Homes Inc. in Short Hills, New Jersey. “That is why a fastener-free deck surface has risen to the top of their lists – they want a clean, luxurious indoor flooring look taken to the outdoor deck.”
Shortly after Sandy hit the New Jersey shoreline hard, Paragano purchased a home from someone who had water damage from the surge, making it necessary to knock it down and rebuild according to new shoreline codes.
The property, which Paragano and his family will use as a summer home, is a five-minute walk from the beaches of Spring Lake. For the front porch and spacious backyard deck on this Victorian-inspired home, Paragano’s crew used edge-fastening to install the Trex decking in Spiced Rum color.
“Edge-fastening is the next generation of deck fastening,” Paragano said. “It employs a simple technology that is easy to use and we find that it is much faster and less expensive than any other system.”
The contractors load the proprietary deck screws into the hand-held guides that position them to be driven into the edge of the deck boards. The guides provide automatic gapping and CAMO includes special driver bits with the screws to ensure that the depth of the drive is optimal.
CAMO offers several guides ranging from about $20 to $50. They work with virtually any decking material – composite, PVC and most soft and hardwood species – with variations to accommodate nominal 6-inch boards as well as narrow boards. They also offer a variety of spacing choices, including a no-gap option for treated wood decks that can also be used with secondary spacers when wider gaps are desired.
EDITOR’S NOTE: With 31 years of experience in the lumber and decking industry, Chip Manger is vice president of business development for CAMO Edge Fastening at National Nail in Grand Rapids, Michigan.