If you’re building your own deck you’ll find there are a ton of ways to fasten down the decking. You can go high-end and use hidden fasteners, you can go middle-of-the-road and go with screws, and you can go low-end and use nails.

I’m going to go ahead and right off the bat tell you to use screws. I’ve never used hidden fasteners and I’m sure they rock, but I’ve only built decks low to the ground, and to attach decking from underneath with hidden fasteners wasn’t an option (I KNOW there are things like Tiger Claw Hidden Deck Fasteners but I’ve never used those either).

But screws are more expensive.

I know, it’s about double, but it’s WORTH IT. A 5lb box of Deckmate star drive deck #9 x 2-1/2″ deck screws holds about 350 screws (MY ESTIMATE) and costs about $30/box. A 5lb box of Grip-Rite 2-1/2 in. 8D Hot-Galvanized Spiral-Shank Deck Nails has 530 nails costs about $17/box.

A 15′x24′ deck is 360 square feet. That would be about 600 screws. You’re looking at 2 boxes of something, nails or screws. That’s $60 for screws or $34 for nails. A $26 dollar difference. Not that much in the grand scheme of things.

Now let’s get to the common sense reason.

  1. You’re going to bend a lot of nails. And its going to PISS YOU OFF. You’re also going to waste time pulling the bent nails out, starting a new nail, cause guess what, deck nails are meant to stay put, not to be pulled out easily.
  2. You’re going to hit your finger with the hammer. You’re a DIYer, I’m a DIYer. It happens to everyone, even pros, and it fricking hurts. How many times do you think you’re going to hit your finger pounding 600 nails? 10? 20? 30 times? After about the 3rd or 4th time you’re going to start to go mental and swear a LOT. After the 10th time you hit yourself you’re going to do that thing where it hurts so bad that you plead in a whiny-just-about-to-cry voice “sweet mother of god please don’t let me hit my finger again”.
  3. You’ll mess up at least once. You’re going to mis-measure or leave too much gap, or mess up somewhere. And when you do you can back a screw out, move the board, slide it, swap it out, whatever, and screw it back in. Zip and done. Not with nails buddy. You’ll be pounding from underneath trying to work those spiral shank nails out all day.
  4. Nails will eventually work themselves out. And in a couple years you’re going to have to outsmart your 4-year-old into thinking it’s fun to find and hammer in all the nails that are popping up on grandpa’s deck that some guy built for him. WOO HOO isn’t this fun honey?

Julia hammering in grandpa's popping deck nails

Well I hope that helped you in the old debate about deck nails vs deck screws. Have your own insight or input? Feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for coming.

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