Nails are Cheaper
The biggest difference between using nails or screws when it comes to building a deck is the price. Not only are screws more expensive but they take longer to use. Using nails with a nail gun is way faster than using screws. So when it comes to cost and cost only, the choice between nails and screws is nails.
Screws have advantages that nails don’t. Particularly when used on hardwood decks. Hardwood timber (like black butt and merbau) expands and contracts with changes in temperature and seasons. If nails are used under these conditions they will over time be pushed up and be a nasty hazard on the floor or your deck. And to make it even worse, if you try to hammer the nails back in, it just won’t work and they will creep back. To fix this problem you will need to remove the nail, fill the hole and then pre-drill and screw in a screw in the vicinity of the previously existing nail. This could keep you busy for quite some time!
Screws are Labour Intensive
As noted above screws are way more labour intensive than nails, particularly when a nail gun is used. To build a deck properly with screws you need to firstly pre-drill the hole and then screw in the screw. Most people nowadays use the drill for screwing in the screws. The trust old screwdriver is a bit of a thing of the past.
However having blastered away at nails, stainless steel nails and used at the correct length with pre-drilling give a very good toughly constructed deck. Each deck builder has his or her own arguments for nails or screws and often it is due to the area that they live and work in (cold versus hot) and the materials they most often work with. Also a fair bit of it comes down to experience.
Nails Or Screws
Galvanised nails are also chosen by some deck builders as a solution to the nails and screw debate. However if the deck is exposed to the elements (even some roofed decks still get wet in high winds and rain) then your galvanised nails are likely to rust. Probably not a solution to that many deck builders unless you live in a very dry area and your deck is almost fully enclosed.
Another possibility in the nails or screws situation is to save some money by using powder coated screws – if you intend to stain your deck as they will not show up.
Whether your deck is elevated or quite low to the ground also plays a part in the nails or screw debate. An elevated deck will move much more and thus screws are a better option, however if you deck is low to the ground you might be able to get away with nails.
On a timber deck that has moved and that boards have expanded and or shrunk screws can be tightened but nails need to be replaced. Another really sore point for using nails is that they can split the timber.
Screws win over nails as well when it comes to re-sanding your deck, if you have nail heads poking up this is going to be a big problem for you and the sanding machine.
Simply put, when it comes to nails or screws, unless you are on an extremely tight budget (and expect to be able to have a maintenance budget later on) then nails are the best choice for you. In all other instances screws is the better long term solution or your new deck.
Wondering what All We Do Is Decks deck builders have to say on the nails or screws debate? Give us a call 0412 896 744 and we would be more than happy to advise you.