Nothing to hide
Hidden fastening systems continue to grow in popularity for decks of all material types.
Those systems offer a clean look without visible fasteners that many homeowners are coming to prefer, says Roderick Kabel, Marketing Director for DeckWise. “Our goal is, and always has been, to provide deck building products that contractors need for longlasting success,” Kabel says. “We feel that providing quality hidden deck fasteners and tools that make installations more efficient is the right path.”
The DeckWise Ipe Clip is molded of a malleable plastic polymer resin coating which is designed to avoid wood staining that can be caused by allmetal hidden deck fasteners. The rigid stainless-steel insert holds decking to joists and is three times stronger than other edge-mount deck fasteners, according to the company.
“DeckWise is best known for its Ipe Clip hidden deck fastener designed specifically for hardwood decks and other tools all made in our Florida facility,” Kabel says. “Many decking products available today are made outside of the U.S. We believe the quality control we have over our products make them not only different, but a wise choice (pun intended). All of our products have been carefully researched and tested before brought to market to ensure maximum effectiveness.”
Simpson Strong-Tie has been selling the EB-TY hidden deck fasteners since 2008 and acquired the EB-TY company in 2016. Since then, Simpson has improved its EB-TY line with EB-TY Premium. The system integrates a Type 300 series stainless steel reinforcing plate to provide additional holding power.
“Our goal was to develop a hidden deck fastener specifically for premium wood decking that addresses some of the issues that can occur when using hidden deck fasteners with premium hardwoods,” says Mike Wright, a Sales Manager for the fastener product group. “So we developed the new EB-TY Premium system which features a metal insert in the EB-TY biscuit. The metal insert not only helps to prevent the screw from driving through the biscuit, but it also strengthens the clip to help the deck board stay in place which can be an issue with hardwood decking as it moves with environmental cycles.”
When combined with the EB-GUIDE predrilling tool, the new system makes installation easier.
“Many hidden deck fastener manufacturers recommend predrilling screw holes to properly secure deck boards to the joist,” Wright says. “The EB-GUIDE is a simple, easy-to-use tool that comes with the EB-TY Premium System. It serves as a pre-drilling guide for the screw, ensuring installation at the correct angle.”
Growth creates innovation
With the growing deck market, fastener manufacturers are investing heavily in developing new solutions.
SPAX USA recently launched its new SPAX Exterior/Deck screw in HCR-X plating, which offers new corrosion- protection technology recognized at ICC for level-four ground contact, says Vice President of Building Products Phill Moore.
The new SPAX USA exterior/deck screws feature HCR-X coating, which is code recognized for use in pressure-treated lumber and has been tested for use in coastal building condition 4. “It provides superior corrosion protection resistance over other carbon steel painted deck screws or hot-dipped screws,” he says.
Contractors are moving away from typical nails and hardware as the industry looks for systems that offer reliability and quality, a need that Moore says SPAX can meet with its multiple patented features and long history of innovation.
“Including the HCR-X product line we have also launched the T-star plus double-thread lock in a 304 stainless for deck flooring applications and trim applications,” he says. “We are also providing solutions for longer length SPAX Powerlags for structural framing of decks using treated lumber [such as] ledgerboard, post attachments, carrier beams and rim boards.”
Grabber Construction Products will be introducing several new products this year designed to make it easier to find the right fastener.
“Tie-Master and Lag-Master are heavy-duty, code-compliant structural wood screws engineered for framing jobs,” says Marketing Manager Bevan Wulfenstein. “The type-17 point eliminates pre-drilling and makes for fast installations with reduced torque. Tie-Master’s flat head design with countersink nibs provides a clean, flush finish. Lag-Master’s hex-washerhead is designed for applications where greater torque is required and it provides a larger bearing area for greater holding power.”
Both Lag-Master and Tie-Master are single-design fasteners for all structural framing projects, decks, underdeck connections and more.
“The Tie and Lag-Master framing fasteners are designed to be easy to understand,” Wulfenstein says. “Often people will go to a hardware store and will spend quite a bit of time just looking for the fastener they need for their specific application. This is particularly true with structural framing screws. Tie and Lag-Master are code-compliant fasteners that will work in almost any framing application from roof trusses to laminated beams joist and ledger connections and more. We have just made it easier to find the right fastener for the job.”
In 2017, Grabber also introduced its XGT deck and fence screws, star drive screws available in both a flat head and trim head configurations with the company’s exclusive QuickGrab point design. “The XGT screws start immediately and drive faster than most other available deck screws,” Wulfenstein says. “These fasteners also feature a hardened wire and our Draw-Tite shank design which draws wood members together rather than forcing them apart as the fasteners drive in.”
Huttig Building Products has expanded its Huttig-Grip program to include Huttig-Guard fasteners available in carbon steel and stainless steel.
The carbon steel is available in three series: The Pro Series, with a 15-year warranty; the Premium Series with a 50-year warranty; and the Platinum Series with a lifetime warranty. “We are very excited about [the Platinum Series] because few people in the industry even have this category in their product lineup,” says Brad Strosahl, Vice President for National Accounts and Global Sourcing. “This is a lifetime warranty product that has got some patented threads on it and some really extra nice features as well.”
Some of those features include a double counter-sinking head and knurled shank to reduce drag.
“One of the things that we have done, unlike really everyone else in the market, is any screw that is a wood to wood application, we went with star drive, flat head with nibs, serrated thread shank, and a type 17, self-auger point,” Strosahl says. “But most of our competition uses…bugle head, Phillips drive screws and regular sharp point. The star drive is the most positive drive in the market today. The flat head with nibs, that head design is designed for wood, whereas others are using the bugle head that’s designed for drywall.”
The Huttig-Guard stainless steel screw program also carries a lifetime warranty and is available in both 305 stainless and 316 stainless.
In the fall of 2017, MiTek rolled out its ProSeries Fasteners for a variety of applications, including decking.
“Professional contractors look to MiTek/USP as the leader in structural products and technical support,” Ruch said. “The ProSeries builds on our trusted and code compliant WS series structural wood screws by providing washer head, bugle head and hex head fasteners available in different finishes and lengths from 1-1/2″ to 10″. The cut point feature offers fast start and reduces torque during installation.”
As an added benefit, screw lengths are stamped on the head of all MiTek ProSeries structural wood screws, making it easy to identify after installation. The MiTek Washer Head structural wood screws and the MiTek Bugle Head structural wood screws also both utilize a T30 Torx drive to maximize bit engagement and reduce “cam-out.”
MiTek’s line of Gold Coat extendedlife structural connectors and fasteners helps to reduce corrosion with a multi-layer protection system. All Gold Coat products feature a standard zinc layer over a steel substrate. A patented organic polymer barrier layer is then applied over the zinc. The non-reactive, organic polymer layer— the Gold Coat—provides a barrier to the ion exchange and electrochemical reactions that cause corrosion, the company says.
Ease of installation
In an effort to make deck installation easier, National Nail has introduced a new stand-up fastening tool for its CAMO Deck Fastening brand.
The new tool “quickly and efficiently delivers proprietary deck screws utilizing edge fastening on an angle for a fastener-free surface, or top down using traditional-style collated deck, composite and subfloor screws,” Palmer says. “Used with any drill, the stand-up option is less strenuous on the installer’s back and knees.”
The company says its unique system makes it easier for contractors to deliver the creative solutions that homeowners want today.
“At National Nail, we are continuously innovating the CAMO Deck Fastening System to give deck builders the opportunity to build faster, safer, and more beautiful decks with surfaces that match their high-end design vision,” Palmer says. “We have developed our guides and systems to be completely intuitive and easy to use, including color-matched face screws, unique edge fastening or hidden systems. It’s all about options and serving as a one-stop resource for contractors no matter what their fastener preference is.”
For Simpson Strong-Tie, its Quik Drive auto-feed system has allowed it to expand its reach in the decking market by making installation simpler and offering contractors a value beyond commodity fasteners.
“That’s really the biggest benefit of Quik Drive, in that it saves time while being relatively easy to master,” Wright says. “Whereas someone would be down on their hands and knees installing deck screws, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the body. The Quik Drive system offers not only labor savings but safety and ergonomics over the long haul. And there are even cordless options now that really make it more versatile.”
The Simpson Strong-Tie Deck-Drive DSV Wood screw and DCU Composite screw are both available collated for use with the Quik Drive system.
The DSV Wood decking screw features a variable thread design which reduces torque, making it the easiest screw to install into wood decking, Wright says. It’s available in tan, red and gray, and in lengths ranging from 1-1/4″ to 4″.
The DCU Composite screw can be used in both composites and PVC decking products. It is available in 11 colors and a length of 2-3/4″.
Another way to make contractors’— and dealers’—lives easier is to make sure the right products are widely available. Specialty fasteners are a fast-growing, high profit margin segment for PrimeSource’s dealers, McFarland says.
“Providing the correct fastener for a project has become profitable and necessary for our dealers to meet their contractors demands,” he says. “In order to serve this concept, we have set up several ‘Mother Ship’ locations across the USA to provide expedited delivery of these new fasteners. Our ‘Mother Ship’ distribution centers carry over 2,000 different fastener options which allows our dealer base to meet the needs of contractors in a timely manner.”
Carrying and promoting a wide variety of products can also help dealers grow sales and profits.
“Make sure your sales staff is knowledgeable about the entire line of products offered by a manufacturer, so they can provide a complete, long-term solution instead of just a single product sale,” Kabel says. “Understand the true value of a product line, not just how much you can mark them up. Dealers should think down the road about each deck installation they contribute to. Could they sell deck maintenance products to restore a weathered deck for a customer later on? What new product has been recently added to the dealer’s list that a three-year-old deck could benefit from now?”
A mix of offerings across multiple price points is important to maximizing deck fastener sales, says GRK’s Christensen.
“There’s definitely…a large percentage of guys who still want performance, and sort of a premium fastener and are willing to pay for that,” he says. “So I think a dealer that can offer not just the value brands but the premium brands is probably going to attract more pros. We still find that one of the No. 1 complaints out of pros is…availability. They really want and need the convenience, availability of the products at their local dealers.”
To learn more about these companies’ products, visit their websites.
Companies in bold participated in this article.
EB-TY Hidden Deck Fasteners:
Grabber Construction Products:
Huttig Building Products:
MiTek: Builder Products:
PrimeSource Building Products:
Titan Metal Werks: