Screws or Nails on decks

I am building a deck in the yard. I talked to my contractor about screws, and he assured me that nails were sufficient on the under portion of the deck. Are screws better and if so how.
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Just finished a deck (final inspection passed yesterday -- horray for me <g>)
I'd never use nails on a new deck. I've seen far too many older decks with nails popping out. In fact, this was part of the reason we replaced our old deck, and I've fought this at my mom's place as well as our old home.
Go with screws, or even better, a hidden fastener system. We went with the Tiger Claw hidden clips. They're not cheap, and not as easy to install as they imply they are, but the finished product looks GREAT -- no holes anywhere. Of course this might make more sense if you're using an upgraded decking such as composite, which is what we did.
-Tim
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Tim Fischer wrote:

Tim, I think he wasn't referring to the decking, but to the framing and joistsbelow it. Nails are generally what's used on them, along with joist hangers, except perhaps for some lag bolts to secure a ledger board to a house wall.
Jeff
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Whoops, I guess that's what he meant by the "under portion", lol. Yep, we certainly used nails for all of that. Some even feel nails are better for that, due to greater sheer strength...
The exceptions, as you partially noted, would be the ledger board, railing posts, and some beam/post connections which require bolts or lag screws.
-Tim
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for that, due to greater sheer strength... <
Yup, I broke one of those screws a few days ago just by hand torque. I don't know what material they use for those things but it has a lot less shear strength than nails. However, I do use screws a lot nowadays just out of fear of splitting the junky wood that's so common.
KW
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A deck screw, or a sheetrock screw?

YOu gotta find a source for blunted nails.

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Thanks for the advice. Your comments helped me alot! Tim Fischer wrote:

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Tim, when you replaced the wood decking with composite material, did you have to remove the old decking material or could the new be installed right over the top?
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We actuallly did a complete demo and rebuild. Bigger, better, newer! lol.
-Tim
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I should add that I don't think you'd want to go over the top. Lots of extra weight, aesthetic reasons, etc. Also, if you had stairs, that would throw off the top step and violate code.
Unless you have a very new deck, I'd advocate doing what we did -- tear off and rebuild. I'd hate to spend the money on composite, only to find out the substructure was rotting away 5 years down the road... The substructure is actually a pretty small portion of the total cost. If you were keeping the same footprint (we didn't), you wouldn't have to worry about footings, etc-- just reuse the old.
-Tim
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Why not just rip out the old decking & stair threads and replace them with composite decking. Hopefully the decking was screwed on & the support is still sound.
"> Tim, when you replaced the wood decking with composite material, did you

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What composite did you end up using? Why?
I'm going thru the decision process right now and could use your advice. Thanks.

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We went with the Lowes ChickeDek Premium, for the following reasons, in no particular order:
1) Wanted something that looked remotely like wood. Many of the composites don't look *anything* like wood. The ChoiceDek Premium has a subtle woodgrain pattern molded into it.
2) We didn't like the all-vinyl/plastic products. Didn't look like wood (looked like a picture of wood, lol), and was afraid of scratches.
3) Price was decent, compared to other systems we looked at.
4) Availability of 20' decking boards. Since the majority of our deck was basically 20', that meant no butt joints. Many of the other systems we looked at maxed out at 16' lengths, or had 20' as special order.
Hope that helps...
-Tim
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Not necessarily. Some screws are hardened (ie drywall screws), and they can be somewhat brittle. Similarly using #8 screws in place of framing nails means you have a rather thinner shank.
But decent #10 and #12 deck screws will outperform equivalent nails.
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