Hidden Deck Fasteners

I am building a cedar deck which will be about a foot and a half off the ground (hard to work underneath). I have been debating using hidden deck fasteners instead of screws and wondering if anyone had suggestions. I have been looking at the Tiger Claws and thinking that they might be better to use considering that I can't really get under the deck. Deckmaster looks pretty good as well. EB-TY looks like to much of a pain to use and too many steps to go through for each piece. Another thing about the Tiger Claw is that is spaces the boards for you as compared to the Deckmaster.
Does anyone have any suggestions, comments or evalutions of the products I mentioned above.
Thanks
Ryan, Toronto, Ont.
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Duke1973 wrote:

They all seem to work on the same principal, the biggest concern would be how much shrinkage will you have in the width of your boards and will the fasteners still hold?
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Duke1973 wrote:

I've done one tiny deck, about 6 X 10 with the joists literally at ground level, using the EB-TY system and composite decking and it worked out well. The amount of fiddling really isn't that much -- just cut two biscuit slots in each decking board at each joist crossing. The actual insertion and screwing-down go very quickly and the plastic biscuits take care of the board spacing for you.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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Background: I have just completed my own deck rehab using both "Eb-Ty" and the "Tiger Claw" systems. The former 2 level deck was original to the house and was not maintained over the previous 18 years.
All of the original deck boards were removed and replaced with composite decking although my comments apply for your cedar deck, as well. I've used Trex at another house and was pleased, but ended up using Home Depot's brand, "Veranda" because it was a few dollars cheaper than all other composites and (I believed) it would always be available. The lower deck was demolished and completed last Fall. This Spring the much larger main deck was started.
I decided I wanted to use some form of hidden fastener and began the lower deck with Eb-Ty fasteners, bought via Amazon, online. The Eb-Ty's come with stainless steel screws. As you may know, each deck board must have slots cut in each edge, as it passes over each joist. I bought a Ryobi biscuit cutter from Home Cheapo for $99. Also, each board needs to be glued to the under lying joist with construction adhesive. With a little practice, installation is not difficult but does require a few steps and more time that throwing nails into some pressure treated boards.
My lower deck is made up of adjacent 4' x 4' sections with one section's deck boards running in one direction and the next section's boards running 90 degrees to the first. (I can see I will need to upload a picture or two). Although the Eb-Ty's worked ok, I thought it might be better to use a system that was available locally, not via Amazon. Therefore, back to HD to buy a box of Tiger Claw fasteners (stainless screws purchase separately). This system does not require slots cut in each board (and therefore no biscuit cutter). Further, boards do not need to be glued down. However, each deck board must be attached to the previous board, using a sledge hammer. Not too difficult when dealing with 4' boards but this becomes problematic with longer 12' or 16' deck boards.
The ultimate decision was helped along when I went back to Home Creepo to buy another box of Tiger Claws and was told they don't carry them any more!!! Anywhere. At any store. My complaints included the fact that I was in the middle of a substantial project and now find out my supplier (HD) has chosen to drop a key component. Their position: "Oh well...." I immediately jumped online to Amazon and ordered 4 more boxes of Eb-Ty fasteners. Next stop was Lowes to get a carton of Liquid Nails. The finished project looks quite nice and it's amazing how many visitors notice that no nails / screws are used.
As we were about half way thru the big deck, it became apparent the cutter blade on the Ryobi biscuit cutter was getting dull and needed to be replaced. Since Ryobi is a HD brand, that's where I went for a blade. Guess what...they don't carry 'em! Their OWN BRAND and they don't have cutters! I promptly went home, got the bisquit cutter cleaned up real good and returned it to Home Crappo. I then used my store credit to buy a new one. (BTW, this was suggested by one of the orange aproned guys. I don't feel his idea was influenced at all by the fact that my hands were firmly around his neck).
Finally, as is typical, I ultimately had to buy some additional Veranda deck boards. Surprise! The color of new boards doesn't match older boards. Sometimes not close. I know, I know...I was warned to buy all decking at one time but sometimes this isn't feasible. I'm hoping as the boards fade, they will more closely match.
If I were to do this project again, I would still go with Eb-Ty but would probably select another brand of composite. There are way too many alternatives that look very nice. One other surprise. Veranda gets hotter that hell in the sun. Not good for bare feet. Apparently some other brands advertise they stay cool.
I'll work on pictures.

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Thanks for the Input Craven,
Another question I have though is when using cedar or pressure treated there is some shrinkage in the wood. Is this a concern when using the hidden fasteners. Is there a chance of the fasteners coming loose from the wood? You have used both products.....which one would you recommend (that is if I can get my hands on the Tiger Claws).
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I have not used cedar in any big project but "warpage" is a common problem with pressure treated pine. If the wood is to come in direct contact with dirt and / or cost is the deciding factor, I suppose PT is a choice. I ended up using 4" x 4" PT posts for the railing supports on my deck, then hiding them with Veranda sleeves. Each post was anchored in concrete and was absolutely square and plumb when installed but two out of four twisted within a month, as they dried out. I believe cedar is not PT so perhaps this would not be a problem.
Remember, each deck board is also glued to the joist so you are not relying on just the fastener for long term stability, at least with Eb-Ty. Each fastener is screwed to the joist with a 2" stainless steel screw so that should last a while (time will say).
I would use Eb-Ty again over Tiger Claw. Not just because Tiger Claw is available (or used to be, or maybe is again) from the holy H (ugh!) but because of the effort involved in installing boards. I just checked their web site and watched the installation video, which makes it look easier that it was for me. It may be a bit easier with soft woods like cedar.
Another "groupie" endorsed "Deckmaster" but I don't believe that is an option unless you like hammering while lying on your back.

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Duke1973 wrote:

I build a 350 sq ft deck 6" x 3/4" brazilian redwood using Eb-Ty fasteners earlier this year. I looked at the Tiger Claw fasteners too, but had serious doubts about being able to use them with longer boards. The Eb-Ty method may be a bit more time consuming but I never consider time to be an issue on a DIY job. We've had a very hot and dry month of july here in Belgium and the boards have shrinked substantially (spacing increased from the initial 3/32" in april to 1/4" now). Also, the edges of the boards have come up about 1/16" to 3/32" resulting in a hollow board profile. Nevertheless, the deck is still feeling quite solid and I see no signs whatsoever about cracks or anything getting loose. One summer may not be long enough to judge but I have confidence that the fasteners will hold. A tip when using the Eb-Ty: do not fully thighten the fasteners for one board until you have slidden in the next board. It may otherwise be difficult to get the next board in.
Koen
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The Deck Master system works fine and is quite quick compared to the other systems. I did a 12x30 deck in a very long day with little or no problems. I even build these huge box style stairs using the Deck Master.
The "no fastner" look is wonderful to look at and even better to walk on. I believe the fastners are the major cause of failures in decks.
I would place the boards as close as possible together.
Duke1973 wrote:

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