The right fasteners will greatly increase the strength of your composite deck, so it is important to choose them carefully.
Composite decks are becoming more and more popular, as they not only offer an attractive appearance but also reduce homeowners’ maintenance costs considerably. They come in various shapes and sizes, with different colors or finishes. Composite decks feature beautiful patterns that imitate the look of natural wood without having to worry about fading, rot, or cracking. A properly designed composite deck can even last twice as long as a traditional wooden one.
Although composite decks offer many benefits, the best results will only be achieved if high-quality composite materials are used together with compatible fasteners – metal screws, nails, or staples. is because these materials are often strong and stiff, but can also be relatively brittle. For this reason, it is important to select the right fasteners by taking into account their material properties and other factors such as the number of parts to be joined and working conditions.
The best composite decking fasteners should meet four major requirements:
- They must not corrode or rust in the moist environment under exposure to direct sunlight;
- Their elasticity and resistance to breakage should be sufficient enough to avoid premature failures caused by overloads;
- The connection between the parts should remain watertight and secure for many years;
- They must be easy-to-use, requiring no special tools or skills.
What are typical composite decking materials? Are they compatible?
Most composite decks are made of wood or plastic, so the right fasteners should be selected according to the material. When it comes to materials suitable for outdoor use, there are many options. Decks can be made of
- plastic lumber;
- rot-resistant softwood;
- tropical woods such as ipé or Merbau.
The material used depends on the desired appearance and location where the deck will be installed. For example, in high humidity areas with high rainfall rates (US east coast), only highly durable materials like teak or Merbau can be recommended. On the flip side, baltic pine is a good choice for colder regions with low rainfall (like Canada or Northern US).
Decks made of plastic lumber are one of the most popular choices because they are relatively inexpensive, weather-resistant, and easy to work with. The main drawback is that they can be slippery when wet. To improve traction, manufacturers often recommend the use of non-skid additives in the composite deck boards’ surface. These materials enhance slip resistance but also shorten deck life expectancy.
Composite lumber decks are usually nailed or screwed together using metal fasteners made of stainless steel or galvanized steel, but this may not always be possible – for example, if there’s a swimming pool below your deck. In this case, stainless steel (and other metals) must be avoided due to the risk that these fluids may leak into contact areas and create corrosion.
In such cases, high-quality composite fasteners made of thermoplastic are recommended. These products are guaranteed for 10 years to remain rust-free and look pristine after exposure to sunlight, rainwater, or other sources of water damage. They also come in various shapes and finishes. For example, stainless steel screws can be coated with a wide range of colors, which looks even more authentic than bare metal parts.