What size nails for framing a deck?

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We answer the question “What size nails for framing a deck?” in this guide

Now, if you are a DIY enthusiast as I am and you are in the process of building a deck all by yourself, then you want to get all the important decisions right..

In this article, I shall answer one of the most important questions when it comes to deck installation:  what type of nails to use for deck framing.

Stay with me as I walk you through the process of choosing what size nails for framing a deck and I can assure you that by the end of this post, all your questions on the topic will be answered.

What size nails for framing a deck?

If you are new to carpentry, making a quick trip to your local hardware will leave you feeling like a deer stranded in a truck’s headlights-There are tens if not hundreds of different nail types.

You will want to choose a nail that will hold your decking material to the studs pretty strongly unless you want your deck to tumble when overloaded.

Now, there are three categories of decking material. They are:

  • Composite material.

Here is the most important point with regard to the materials: Most decking material normally has a thickness of 2”.

Keeping this in mind, you want at least 1” of your nail length to be in your studs.

Therefore, you will want to use 10d, 12d or 16d nails for framing your deck (these nails are 3.00, 3.25, and 3.50 respectively in length so they should be up to the task as they are long enough bearing in mind you need at least 1” of your nail length to be in the studs).

In fact, framing nailers typically fire 3-1/2″ or 3-1/4″ 16d fasteners so that should clear the air a little more (I should add some will fire nails  down to even 2-1/2″ or 2″ for decking/sheathing).

But what is perhaps more important is the size of your deck boards- if, for example, you have 1″ deck boards, 2 or 2.5″nail length would be plenty.

Likewise, 1.25” deck boards can use 2.5” nails.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that the main determinant is the actual depth of the material-you can check the code in your area but the general rule is the nails you use should satisfy the 1″ requirement(of depth) into any framing.

You’re free to choose nails that go deeper, e.g. for better protection against warping(if you’d want to).

I even once saw a friend do his 1″deck boards with a mixture of 2.5″ and 3″ nails as he ran out of the 2.5″ ones!

You should note that these are just but the lengths of shank that we recommend.

Do not buy any 10d to 16d nail as they come in different diameter sizes for different uses.

Instead, you want to purchase nails that have at least 5/32” thickness. This may include common nails.

A downside for going for a 10d box nail is that it has a smaller gauge than a 10d common nail- and this would make the box nails un-ideal for deck framing where load capacity is great.

Read on to find out which between screws and nails is best for deck framing…

Screws or nails for deck framing?

The answer is neither. As a matter of fact, you will want to use a mix of both as they both have their pros and cons.

If assembling speed is of essence to you, then using a nailer (and hence nails) is your best option.

On the economic side, there is a big difference in their pricing. Deck screws are almost 30 – 50 % more expensive than decking nails.

However, the extra expense for screws is worth it as they tend to have a stronger holding capability.

Also, once you nail your decking frames, it is extremely difficult to remove them without causing them damage.

On the other hand, using decking screws makes it easy to maintain your deck without causing any damage.

For the final point, you might have had the terrible experience of breaking a screw head while driving it into a board. On the other hand, nails may bend but they will never break.

It is key to recall that the framing of your deck is what will hold it up. The fasteners holding your frames together bear your deck’s load. So, would you rather have something that breaks holding your deck up or something that may bend but will not break? That is exactly why you will want to use nails for your deck framing.

You may want to go for threaded nails that are designed to increase their holding power. These nails are more powerful than the much more expensive screws. However, these ring shank nails are harder to drive in even when using a pneumatic nailer. Their rings also make them hard to remove and attempting to remove ring shank nails will likely cause irreparable damage to your wood.

What size screws for deck framing?

Screws also come in a wide array of sizes. A good choice for deck framing is 3” to 3 ½” screws.

If cost is not a worry to you, then, you may want to use structural screws.

They are stronger than normal deck screws and are as strong as 10d and 16d common nails.

Above all, they are load rated meaning they are made to carry the weight of your deck.

What type of nails for deck framing?

When buying your decking nails, we advise that you go for one of the following nails:

  • Common nails.
  • Stainless steel decking nails.
  • Spiral nails.
  • Double dipped galvanized nails.
  • Hot-dipped galvanized nails.

If you have all the above nails at your disposal, for a greater grip, you should choose spiral or rink shank nails.

Also, as your deck is exposed to humidity, you will want to select stainless steel or hot-dipped or double dipped galvanized nails in order to avoid corrosion.

What size nails for deck beam?

Nowadays, deck beams come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1” to 2”.

It is worth noting that the 1” beams are from hardwoods whereas the thicker beams are from composite brands and softwoods.

You will want to use a 10d nail for the beams as anything longer may have the risk of poking through the joists.

You will also want to consider the above details when picking the perfect gauge for deck beam nails.

What size nails for deck framing – wrapping it up

Nails are used for connecting material together such as decks and buildings.

Picking a good nail quality assures you that the nail will last longer hence your structure will stay standing.

Selecting the right nail for your job is quite important. When propping your deck frames, you do not want nails to poke through (don’t pick anything above a 16d) and you also do not want them not holding strongly – do not pick anything below a 10d.

Additionally, a nail’s diameter influences the shear strength of the connection and you will want to go for a minimum of 5/32” in diameter especially the double-dipped galvanized or stainless-steel nails.

Use ring or spiral nails to improve the holding strength of the decking frames.



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