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Should You Screw Or Nail Decking?

Today we’ll tackle one of the most frequently asked questions we get when installing a deck.

“Should I screw or nail decking?”

The answer? It depends.

Keep reading to learn when these options are available and when it’s recommended to use them. But most importantly, read on to learn why installing your deck should be done by a professional, and not be treated as a DIY task.

Let’s begin.

A deck near a lake and a beautiful outdoor space

When Should You Screw Decking

As a rule of thumb, screwing down decking works better with hardwoods. However, no matter the type of wood you’re trying to install, be sure to drill pilot holes first. These ensure the wood won’t crack, and you’ll be able to add the screws without risking anything.

Screwing decking is a good option when you’re installing new deck boards, or when you’re replacing an old deck screw. Decking screws are also a good option when you’re installing decking in an area that’s likely to get wet, like a pool deck.

Another time when you might want to screw your decking is if you’re installing composite decking. Composite decking can be delicate, and it’s important to make sure the boards are securely attached to avoid damage.

When screwing decking, it’s important to use the right deck screws. Make sure to use galvanized deck screws that are rated for exterior use.

What Are Galvanized Screws

Galvanized screws are screws that have been treated with a zinc coating to protect them from rusting. They are available in a variety of sizes, and are a good option for use in exterior applications.

For example, use galvanized deck screws for your deck frame, joist hangers, and to attach framing hardware in general. For framing, structural screws are also a good option, but drilling pilot holes is a must.

A wet, ground level deck without a railing

When Should You Nail Decking?

Nailing decking is the more traditional option, and it’s still a good choice in some situations. If you’re installing cedar or redwood decking, nailing is generally the better option. These woods are soft, and screws can sometimes split the deck board.

If you want to learn more about the best types of wood for decking, read our 5 Best Wooden Decking Options For Your Upcoming Project.

Nailing is also a good option if you’re installing decking on a roof. The additional weight of screws can make roof decks more likely to leak.

There are a variety of nails that can be used to nail decking. When nailing cedar or redwood, it’s best to use a round-head galvanized roofing nail. This type of nail is available at most hardware stores.

If you’re nailing composite decking, it’s important to use a trim nail. Composite decking like Trex or TimberTech is soft, and using the wrong type of nail can damage the boards.

What Are Hidden Fasteners

Hidden fasteners are a type of fastener that is used to attach decking boards. They are hidden beneath the surface of the decking, and are not visible once the deck is installed.

There are a variety of hidden fasteners available, including screws, nails, and clips. They are available in a variety of sizes, and can be used with a variety of decking materials.

Many professionals use the Camo Marksman. This is a really innovative tool that will screw or nail decking on the sides and at an angle, hiding them from sight.

And if you were thinking about using a wood plug, forget it. Wood plugs have nothing to do with improving the safety of your deck construction, so why use them except for aesthetic reasons.

A wood deck with hidden fasteners and a pond

Why You Should Hire A Professional To Install Your Deck

Installing a deck is a big job, and it’s one that’s best left to the professionals. A professional deck installer will have the experience and the tools to do the job right.

They’ll also be able to install your deck quickly and efficiently, with both nails or screws where they’re needed.

Hiring a professional also has some other benefits. A professional deck installer will be able to help you choose the best material for your deck, and they can also offer advice on how to care for your deck once it’s installed.

So, should you screw or nail decking?

The answer is that it depends on the situation. 

In most cases, screwing decking is the better option. But if you’re installing cedar or redwood decking, nailing might be the better choice.

In both cases, be sure to use galvanized nails and screws. Be careful with tools like nail guns, and drill a pilot hole for each screw.

Either way, hiring a professional to install your deck is always the best option. A professional deck installer will have the experience and the tools to do the job right, and they can also offer advice on how to care for your deck once it’s installed.

A chocolate brown deck with glass railing and a wooden table and chairs


If you’re still not sure whether you should screw on nail decking boards, it’s best to leave this matter to the professionals.

Not all types of wood can be screwed down, and definitely not all types can be nailed down. Some of them will split, crack, and dent, ruining what can otherwise be a good decking board.

At Werner Decks, we have the right tools and equipment to get the job done right, without you risking anything. We’re your local deck builder in MD, and we proudly serve all homeowners in Annapolis, Arnold, Severna Park and surrounding areas.

We bring professionalism right to your doorstep, and our goal is to make your contracting experience a pleasant journey, free from the stress and anxieties of working with contractors.

Call us today at (443) 926-6996 to discuss more about your project, or request a free quote and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!