Tim Carter for the Washington Post answers a reader’s concerned question about whether or not to use nails to fasten a new deck.
Carter advises the reader that nails are “an inferior fastener when building a deck that gets wet on a regular basis.” Instead, Carter advises readers to use double hot-dipped galvanized fastens or using giant timber scores to connect lumber pieces together to make beams. He also suggests that using structural joist hangers and other metal brackets, instead of nails, can hold two pieces of wood together.
As Carter writes,
"When you pound a nail into wood, you create stress around the nail, and it can easily crack. You can see this happen in real time if you nail near the edge of a piece of lumber. It helps to blunt the end of a nail if you want to minimize splitting, but much of the stress that causes the crack is still there, waiting to be released...
The screws will cost you more money when building a deck. But the small extra cost is worth it when a serious injury or death might occur if you decide to forgo their use. If you decide to use the screws, be sure they’re approved for use with the new treated lumber now in the marketplace. If you use a fastener that has the wrong coating on it, it won’t take long for it to start to corrode and fail."