Deck aficionados, both homeowners and remodelers alike, are coming around to hidden deck fasteners. “I'd say five years ago, people didn't want the extra expense. Soon they'll be the industry standard,” says Glenn B. Eberle, vice president of Eb-Ty Hidden Fastening Systems. Although that last point is arguable, it does appear that more homeowners are willing to pay extra to not see screws and drill holes, particularly when they've spent a lot on their decking material.
“With ipe, mahogany, etc., it's worth it to look nicer. In that instance, the hidden fastener is the only way to go,” asserts Jim Craig of Craig Sundecks and Porches in Marshall, Va. The folks at Tiger Claw agree. “When you get into exotic hardwoods, the difficulty is that every screw hole has to be predrilled and countersunk. Using our fasteners, there's no predrilling. It's faster and the outcome is much nicer,” says Dave Martel, vice president of Tiger Claw.
But while hidden fastener manufacturers will argue that their product is the best option for every kind of deck, Craig disagrees. “The hidden fastener systems are expensive. It doesn't make sense to use them on pressure-treated wood or even composites.” Craig prefers FastenMaster's TrapEase screw for composites, because it looks tasteful and “does such a good job.” Although the TrapEase is designed for use on several brands of composite decking, CorrectDeck warns against using it on their product, saying that its head bites into the edges of the decking. CorrectDeck has gone so far as to partner with Eb-Ty to create a hidden system for its CorrectDeck Signature line. Eberle of Eb-Ty predicts manufacturers will make their decking more hidden fastener-friendly soon. “When they extrude their decking, they're going to run a groove down the side, (creating) pre-grooved decking,” he says, adding that ipe and some Brazilian redwoods are also getting the pre-groove treatment.
Although manufacturers and contractors may disagree on some points regarding hidden fasteners, they do concur that those fasteners employing top-down installation are the most desirable. “That was the main turn off for a lot of contractors,” says Martel. “With our fastener, the work is done from on top of the deck. There's no bending under the deck board involved.” The push for easier — and better — installation methods should drive the fastener market to further improvements, to the benefit of both remodelers and homeowners.