When you go through the effort of constructing your deck you deserve to have it look amazing. How exactly do deck fasteners affect the look of your deck? The visible screws ruin the sight of your deck and rust over time. Thankfully, you do have another option today: hidden deck fasteners.
Hidden deck fasteners secure your deck boards to the joists of the deck but instead of being installed from the top of the boards, as screws on their own would have to be, they are installed from the bottom and/or sides of the board so that the screws don’t show.
In today’s article, we’ll look at how you can stop building decks with the screws all over the deck, how to use hidden fasteners, what you can use them for, and other deck securing options available to you.
How do You Build a Deck Without Screws Showing?
We know you aren’t wondering what the big deal is about getting rid of screws on your deck because you’re reading this article. Screws, which looked okay on a deck after it was first built, will,
- Rust over time
- Cause boards to crack
- Catch on socks
- And make it very difficult to remove or remodel the deck after rusting
For these reasons, you’re looking for a different fastening solution from the start of the project and the best alternative solution you’re looking for is hidden fasteners.
Hidden fasteners accomplish the goal of securing the deck boards to the joists while being totally invisible. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all work by being attached underneath and/or on the sides of the deck boards. They will either hide the screws with plugs that match the deck’s material or with clips that clip onto the grooves on the sides of the boards.
There are several benefits to having hidden clips.
- Because of their placement, they allow the boards to expand and construct without cracking.
- Since they’re hidden, you don’t have to worry about painting the screws to match the deck.
- Even if they are placed somewhere they could be seen, they come in a variety of colors so that they are unobtrusive.
These fasteners will spare you the trouble of predrilling your deck boards too. Now, there are screws today that are coated to prevent corrosion and are made to bend to prevent cracks a little longer, but they are twice or even three times more expensive than regular deck screws.
How do You Install Decking with Hidden Fasteners?
The process of using hidden clips is definitely more time-consuming than installing the screws directly through the boards on top, but it’s still fairly straightforward. What’s important is to match the right hidden fastener with the decking brand. This section will be for those who have already constructed the joists and frame of the deck and are ready to install the deck boards.
For example, if you have a TimberTech composite deck, it would have been constructed with TimberTech’s hidden fasteners exclusively because they only fit the company’s deck board grooves. It’s the same with other decking brands. The steps are as follows and we’ll take TimberTech’s composite deck options as our examples for them.
Choose the Right Hidden Fasteners
The choice of fastener depends on which profile your deck boards are: grooved or square. TimberTech has three decking options: Edge, Pro, and Azek. Each has their own collection. Select the collection and option under the collection that you want and then scroll down to the “options & dimensions” tab. See if the options come as square-shouldered or grooved.
If you have grooved boards, you have your choice of hidden fasteners according to the board choice you wanted. If they are square-shouldered, they lend themselves more to the classic top-down fasteners or the color-matching screws and plugs.
The hidden fasteners (H.F.s )that fit all TimberTech grooved decking are
- The CONCEALoc H.F.
- The CONCEALoc L-brackets (for the first and last boards)
- The FUSIONLoc H.F.
The H.F.s that fit Azek boards are:
- CORTEX for Azek
The H.F.s that fit the Pro boards are:
- CORTEX for Pro & Edge
The H.F.s that fit the Edge boards are:
- CORTEX for Pro & Edge
Once you’ve determined which fastener you need, the rule of thumb on the quantity for hidden fasteners is 175 pieces per 100 square feet of decking.
Install the First Board
Now that you have your fasteners, take your first grooved board and attach it to the joists with your L-brackets. These brackets can also be used for butt seams to minimize the need for sister joints. Begin at one edge of your deck with a grooved board and make the board flush with the edge.
Install Your First Fasteners
With your first board secured against the brackets, slide your fasteners into the groove on the side facing your house, making sure each clip is centered on the joists. Drill in the screws until they’re flush with the clip and slide in the next board. There should be a ¼” space between boards.
Repeat & Finish
Repeat this process with each board until you reach the last one. On the last board, attach it to the clips of the previous board like you’ve been doing, and then fasten it with the L-brackets to finish.
Are There Hidden Fasteners for Wood Decking?
Absolutely! Wood decks have the same hidden fastener choices as composites do:
- Plugs hiding the screws
- Clip fasteners
The problem with wood decks is that hidden fasteners are generally made for premium hardwoods instead of softwoods or pressure-treated wood whereas composite decks have more of a variety of fasteners to choose from.
Lastly, a wooden deck, even with the best fasteners available, won’t last as long as a composite deck will. Wooden decks will typically last 10-15 years with good maintenance, while composites can last as long as 50 years!
How do You Install Composite Decking Without Hidden Fasteners?
If you chose a square-shouldered board design, you can opt for plugs. Plugs require small circles made from the same material and color as your deck, but do not require pre-drilled holes or placing the boards down one at a time.
The way they work is,
- Using a drill bit, drill the screws into the joists from the top-down
- Clear away the debris and place the plugs on top of the holes.
- Hammer in the plugs
It’s very straight-forward. The only thing you need to know is where to find the plugs. TimberTech’s CORTEX for Pro & Edge is an example of a plug fastener and to get the plugs you need, you just have to click on the color of your deck. As for the Azek series there is no available plug system but they do have TOPLocs which are screws with colored and rounded heads that are coated to prevent rust.
As you can see, the TOPLocs are pretty much the same thing as the typical top-down fastening method, with some useful touches. Ultimately, if hidden clips are not what you want to use, but you still want the clean look and smooth surface, you should use the plug fastener method.
You now have a good understanding of what hidden deck fasteners are and why they are so useful. You even have some options to look at if you still want the clean look but don’t care for hidden clips. Whatever your preference or means, there is something for everyone’s dream deck.
If you live in the Northern Colorado / Southern Wyoming area and would like to schedule a free consultation to talk to one of our TNT team members about your deck project, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit the deck services page and fill out the contact form.