Building a deck, whether a Pro or DIYer, involves a lot of planning and knowledge. Selecting the best material for the job is important to ensure the project is structurally sound and will last for years. Unfortunately, through lack of knowledge or to trim costs, people compromise the integrity of the deck by not using the best deck screws for the different aspects of construction.
Screws used for deck construction must withstand the elements, the structural stresses applied to them, and the corrosive nature of natural or chemical wood preservatives. The best code-compliant corrosion-resistant screws for pressure treated, cedar or redwood are galvanized, ceramic coated, or stainless steel.
In this guide, we’ll discuss which wood screws to use to fasten the ledger board, post and beam brackets or caps, joist hangers, hurricane ties, and deck boards. I’ll provide you with a buying guide so you are better prepared when building an outdoor structure or deck.
- Best Code-Compliant Screws For Pressure Treated, Cedar, & Redwood Deck Construction
- Best Deck Screws
- Screws for Deck Framing
- Ledger Board
- Post to Beam
- Joist to Ledger Board
- Joists Bearing on a Beam
- Best Screws for Rim Joists, Blocking
- Best Decking Screws
- Power Pro 48611 Premium Outdoor Wood and Deck Screws #9 x 3″
- Hillman 48610 Power Pro Premium Exterior Wood Screw, 9 X 2 1/2-Inch
- FastenMaster FMGD212-350 GuardDog Exterior Wood Screw 2-1/2-Inch
- CAMO Edge Deck Screws 2-3/8″ ProTech – My Favorite Hidden Deck Fasteners
- Bolt Dropper #12 X 2-1/2″ Stainless Wood Screw
- Best Screws for Railings Posts to Joists
Best Code-Compliant Screws For Pressure Treated, Cedar, & Redwood Deck Construction
|FastenMaster LedgerLOK||Built-in washer |
Guaranteed against corrosion
Strong shear values
|FastenMaster ThruLOK||Meets ACQ corrosion requirement|
No wrenches or drill bits required
|Beam to 6×6 post |
Railing Post to Joist
|GRK Structural Screws||Self-tapping and countersinking |
Recessed star-drive screws have a built-in washer
Great shear strength, torque, and grip
|Ledger Board Railing |
Post to Joist
|Simpson Strong-Tie Structural SD9112R100||ACQ approved mechanically galvanized|
Class 55 coated hex-head self-tapping screws
Built-in washer and serrated threads for easy driving
Greater shear and grip strength, and exceed load values of typical 10d common nails
|Post to Beam |
Joist to Ledger
Joist to Beam
|Simpson Strong-Tie Structural SD9212R100||ACQ approved mechanically galvanized|
Class 55 coated hex-head self-tapping screws
|Joist to Ledger|
|Hillman Power Pro 48610 Premium Exterior Wood Screw, 9 X 2-1/2″||T-25 Torx 6-point star-drive for great torque grip|
Serrated threaded tip for self-tapping and faster driving
Twisted shank enlarges hole to prevent splitting
|Rim Joist |
|Hillman Power Pro 48611 Premium Outdoor Wood and Deck Screws #9 x 3″||Flat head with countersinking blades for a flush finish|
T-25 Torx drive for better torque and no-strip driving
Twisted shank prevents splitting
Coated to prevent rust and corrosion
|FastenMaster GuardDog Exterior Wood Screw 2-1/2”||Flat bugle head with pozisquare drive to eliminate stripping and cam-out |
Sharp threads and point make for quick driving
ACQ approved coating protects against corrosion
|CAMO Edge Deck Screws 2-3/8″ ProTech||Edge fastening|
Corrosion-resistant, salt-spray tested ProTech gray coated
Small trim TORX T-15 head countersinks in and is almost invisible
CAMO Pro Guide required
|Bolt Dropper Stainless Wood Screw #12 X 2-1/2″||Marine grade stainless steel|
Coarse threads for superior grip
Lifetime corrosion-resistant guarantee
Best Deck Screws
Screws for Deck Framing
Building a deck involves more than just the finished surface everyone sees and walks upon. The framework the deck boards are fastened to is equally important. There are different ways to fasten posts to beams and joists to beams or the ledger board.
Nails and spikes used to be the only method, and every strike vibrated or knocked something out of level or place. Today, there are specially designed screws that not only have greater grip strength than nails but equal or better shear strength too. Screws must be code-compliant and ACQ or AC257 approved for structural use with chemical wood preservatives like copper azole and alkaline copper.
The ledger board is the structural member that fastens the deck structure to the rim board of a building. It is commonly a pressure-treated plank to which the joists are fastened. If not properly secured it can pull away from the building or shear off causing mayhem and injury.
FastenMaster LedgerLOK Ledger Board Fastener, 3-5/8 Inches
The LedgerLok ledger board screws is an alternative to using lag screws for attaching a ledger board to a building’s band or rim board. The 3-5/8 inch ESR #1078 code-compliant hex-head screws have a built-in washer. The screws are less expensive and have stronger shear values than lags, require no pre-drilling, and are faster and easier to drive. Designed, engineered, and originally made in the US, the screws are currently manufactured in China.The ACQ approved screws are ceramic E-Coated to protect from copper azole and alkaline copper and are guaranteed against corrosion or rust for the life of the project. However, they shouldn’t be used within 1000-feet of saltwater. 5/16” hex-heads are stamped for easier code inspection, and packages include a hex-head driver. The screws are also available in 5-inch lengths.
Drive the LedgerLok fasteners in a ‘W’ pattern no closer than 2” to the top or the bottom, or 3-3/4” from the end of the ledger. Table 1 of the Technical Bulletin identifies the screw spacing based on the initial span between the ledger and first support. Here’s the screw spacing for the most common spans of SPF – 6’ or less is 12”, 6’ to 8’ is 9”, 8’ to 10’ is 7” – others are available on the Bulletin.
GRK ICC-ESR-2442 HandyPak 5/16 by 4-Inch Structural Screws
GRK Structural Screws are another alternative to lag screws for securing ledger boards to rim or band boards. The self-tapping and countersinking 5/16” diameter hardened steel 4-inch shaft screws have W-cut threads and a zip-tip to bite quickly into the wood without splitting it. The code-compliant fasteners offer great shear strength, torque, and grip.
The patented Climatek coating is ACQ-AC257 approved to protect against chemical wood preservatives. There are six CEE threads above the W-threads that bore a larger hole for the thicker shank, preventing splitting and drive friction. The round-head, recessed star-drive screws have a built-in washer that pulls the edger in tight. The screws are also available in 5-1/8” and 6” lengths, and in PHEINOX stainless steel.
The screws should be 1-1/2” in from the end or splices, and 1-7/8” from the top or bottom of the ledger. The Technical Bulletin identifies the W-pattern screw spacing based on wood type, joist span, live load, and wet or dry use. For SPF and a live-load of 60 psf, space the screws 10” apart for spans 6’ or less, 7” for 8’, 6” for 10’, 5” for 12’, and 4” for 14’. Wet-use locations require a tighter spacing, identified in the Bulletin.
Pros of using LedgerLok or GRK structural screws:
- Built-in washers
- No pre-drilling
- Meet code
- Cheaper than lag bolts
Post to Beam
Securing a post to a beam can be done by notching the post to receive the beam, or topping all posts level and using post-to-beam connectors. The connectors or caps hold the beam to the post and resist lateral, vertical, and twist forces.
Post caps or connectors are commonly sized for 4×4 or 6×6 posts and double or triple ply beams. It is important to ensure the screws used with the connectors are the same metal – stainless steel, galvanized, or coated – to prevent corrosion.
Simpson Structural Screws SD9112R100 No.9 by 1-1/2-InchSimpson Structural Screws are designed for use with different connectors, including post-to-bean caps and Simpson Strong-Tie products. Designed and manufactured in the US, the mechanically galvanized, Class 55 coated hex-head self-tapping screws have a built-in flange or washer and serrated threads for easy driving and grip tightness.
The No.9 by 1-1/2-Inch screws are thicker than deck screws and have greater shear and grip strength. The head and flange are also stamped for easy identification by inspectors. Code and ACQ approved, the screws exceed load values of typical 10d common nails. They are easy to drive and are a multi-purpose fastener for many structural galvanized connectors.
SD9212R100 No.9 by 2-1/2-InchThe Simpson Strong-Tie No. 9 by 2-1/2-inch are mechanically galvanized structural screws. They have a hex-head with a built-in flange or washer for easier driving and greater grip. The heavier shaft matches the hole diameter in Simpson Strong-Ties and many other brand products.
The SD9212R100 No.9 by 2-1/2-Inch is code and ACQ compliant for use with pressure-treated wood. The #9 exceeds shear and load ratings for 10d common nails, and #10s exceed 16d capacities. Use to fasten structural connectors to thicker wood widths like two or three-ply beams.
Simpson Strong-Tie DSVI32 4X4 Post Cap BaseThe Simpson Strong-Tie 4x4 post cap is either stainless or ZMAX galvanized coated 18-gauge steel. The cap is for connecting a 4×4 post to a beam or support of equal thickness. It can also be used to secure a 2-ply 2-by beam to the top of a 4×4 post.
No toe nailing into end-grain or relying on bolts or lags to carry the weight. Sitting the beam on the top of the post improves load integrity. Using the post caps prevents lateral movement off the post, and minimizes wind-force lift for a more secure connection.
Use 12 – #9 x 1½” SD Screws to fasten the post cap to the 4×4 and beam. Do not use lag screws or bolts. The SD Screws are easier to drive than 10d or 16d nails, and less likely to nock posts out of level. To further protect the connection from rot, wrap the wood with waterproof tape or adhesive membrane where the metal and wood meet.
Simpson Strong-Tie 4-Inch Adjustable Post CapSimpson Strong-Tie 4-inch adjustable post cap is 18-gauge stainless or galvanized ZMAX coated steel. Designed and engineered in the US, current production is off-continent. Use one bracket cap to connect a 4×4 post to a solid or built-up beam for an invisible connection.
Alternatively, double-up and do both sides for a stronger lateral and vertical joint. The cap is ideal for new construction or renovations.
No need to toenail into the end grain with the adjustable caps, or even secure with nails. Fasten the cap to the top of the post and side of the beam with 10 – #9 x 1½” SD Screws in the round holes, the triangles may also be filled with additional screws.
The heavy side-mount plates offer a wider, more secure connection, and minimize twist, lift, and lateral movement. Consider using self-adhesive membrane or tape between the metal and wood for corrosive and rot protection.
Another option is Simpson Strong Tie LPC6Z 6X Post/Adjustable Beam Cap Z-Max Finish:
Joist to Ledger Board
Fastening joists to a ledger board is commonly done using joist hangers for a more secure connection. Hangers need to be attached with appropriate shear-force rated fasteners, and at least ¾” away from fasteners connecting the ledger to the band or rim board.
Single or double 90° or 45° hangers have exposed face-mounting or concealed fastening flanges. Manufactured from 14 to 22-gauge stainless or galvanized steel, the flange width varies as does the nail pattern for different products.
LUCZ Concealed-Flange HangerLUCZ concealed-flange Simpson Strong-Tie joist hangers are 18-gauge ZMAX coated galvanized steel. The conceal-flange can flush mount with the end of the ledger for improved appearance and performs as well as the flush-mount flange. Available in 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 sizes, the number of fasteners depends on the joist hanger used.
The two smaller dimensions require 6 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to fasten the hanger to the ledger, and 4-#9 x 1½” SD screws to secure the joist to the hanger. The 10” and 12” hangers use 10 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to fasten them to the ledger, and 6 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to anchor the joist in the hanger.
LU Galvanized Face-Mount Joist Hanger
LU 22-gauge galvanized steel face-mount joist hangers are engineered to form a safer and stronger connection between the joists and the ledger board. The Simpson Strong-Tie connectors have speed prongs for placement. The LU hangers are light-weight and nominally fit 2×6 joists.
For improved shear support, use 6 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to attach the hanger to the ledger, and 4 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to connect the hanger to the joist. Use 4 – #9 x 2½” SD screws to connect the hanger with the joist if angling into the ledger board.
Joists Bearing on a Beam
Toenailing joists to beams prevent lateral movement but don’t restrict lift forces from acting on the joist. Using galvanized or stainless brackets to fasten joists to beams improves the connection for a stronger and safer attachment. They resist lateral and lift forces too. It’s also easier to secure the bracket to the joist and beam than toenailing and keeping the joist on the mark.
Simpson Strong-Tie H1Z ZMAX Hurricane TieThe 18-gauge ZMAX galvanized Hurricane Ties are made in the US and designed to withstand strong wind forces and earthquake activity. The ties are easy to install ahead of time on the beam to assist with joist placement. Plus, the flange can face inward or outward, so it can be less visible if desired.
The H1Z brackets the 2-by joist on both sides for a more secure connection. Attach the ties with 10 – #9 x 1½” SD screws.
Simpson Strong-Tie H2.5AZ ZMAX Hurricane TieThe 18-gauge H2.5AZ hurricane ties fasten joists to beams and hold against lateral and lift forces. The corrosion-resistant ZMAX galvanized ties fasten to one side of the joist only so should be used in pairs for the best connection.
Using two ties also makes it easier to secure double joists to beams. Use 10 – #9 x 1½” SD screws to fasten the tie to the joist and beam.
Best Screws for Rim Joists, Blocking
Fastening the rim joist and blocking to the joists is usually done with 10d or 16d common nails for shear-strength. Code-compliant and corrosion protected screws offer better grip and equal or better shear strength.
Screws are also easier to drive in tight places and can be backed out for repairs if necessary. Additionally, coated screws are available in a variety of colors to better blend with wood tones.
Hillman 48610 Power Pro Premium Exterior Wood Screw, 9 X 2 1/2-InchThe Hillman 1022 grade steel screws have a rust and corrosion-resistant bronze ceramic coating for use in pressure-treated, cedar, and redwood lumber. The fasteners are even salt spray tested for use near ocean locations. Made in Taiwan, the screws have a limited lifetime guarantee against corrosion.
The flat-head of the screws have teeth on the underside to countersink the head without compressing the wood, and a T-25 Torx 6-point star-drive for greater torque grip. A drive bit is included too! The Power Pro Premium screws have serrated threads at the tip for self-tapping and faster driving. The cross-cut threads bite and grip and the twisted shank enlarges the hole above the threads to prevent splitting by the wider girth of the upper shaft.
Fasten the rim joist to each joist with 3 Hillman 48610s, and 2 for each end of the blocking. The screws also work well to fasten other deck components, including deck boards, spindles, and rails. They are quick and easy to drive, don’t split the wood, and are less likely to break under torque.
Best Decking Screws
Securing decking to joists is best done with screws to ensure the boards and fasteners don’t come loose. For 5/4” lumber 2-1/2” screws are the minimum, and for 2” thick planks, it’s 3” screws. It is acceptable to go longer, but not shorter.
When fastening decking to the joists, there should be two screws driven into each board at every joist. The screws should be 1” to 2”s from the edge of the plank, and the distance should be maintained for uniformity and appearance.
The size of the deck and the joist spacing determine the number of boards and screws needed. The spacing between planks is commonly between 1/8” and 1/4″ and should be taken into account when determining a purchase.
For example, a 12’x12’ deck with joists at 16” centers (OC) and a 1/4″ gap between boards:
- Number of 12’ deck boards ► 12-feet = 144”, 144” ÷ (5.5” board width + 1/4″ gap) = 25 boards
- Number of screws ► 12’ = 144” ÷ 16” OC = 9 joists + 1 (outside joist) = 10 joists x 25 boards x 2 screws/board = 500 screws
Power Pro 48611 Premium Outdoor Wood and Deck Screws #9 x 3″Power Pro deck screws are flat-head for a flush finish and T-25 Torx drive for better torque and no-strip driving. They have serrated thread tips for fast sinking without pre-drill, cross-cut threads for grip and smooth boring, and twisted shanks to prevent splitting.
The undersides of the heads also have countersinking blades for a smoother, non-pinched finish. Coated to prevent rust and corrosion, the screws have a limited lifetime guarantee. They are ideal for fastening 5/4” and 2” thick deck boards to joists.
Hillman 48610 Power Pro Premium Exterior Wood Screw, 9 X 2 1/2-Inch
The #9 x 2½-inch Hillman 48610, reviewed above, has identical characteristics to the Power Pro 48611 3-inch deck screw. They should be used to attach 5/4” planks to joist, not 2” boards.
FastenMaster FMGD212-350 GuardDog Exterior Wood Screw 2-1/2-InchFastenMaster #9 x 2-1/2-inch deck screws have a flat, bugle head with pozisquare drive to eliminate stripping and cam-out. Each 350 unit box includes a drive bit, but a square (#2 Robertson) or cross (X) head (Philips) will work too.
The sharp threads and point make for quick, secure, and easy fastening. The brownie-gold colored coating matches most wood tones and protects the screw against rust and corrosion. They also have a limited lifetime guarantee for use in cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated lumber.
CAMO Edge Deck Screws 2-3/8″ ProTech – My Favorite Hidden Deck Fasteners
Best hidden screws for wood deckingCAMO hidden deck screws are #9 x 2-3/8” ProTech gray coated, 304, or 316 stainless steel. They are corrosion and rust-resistant fasteners for use in 5/4” and 2” thick pressure-treated, cedar, redwood, composite, and PVC boards. The screws are also salt-spray tested for use near saltwater.
Edge fastening leaves the plank surface free of disfiguring or misaligned fasteners but requires the use of the CAMO Pro Guide, purchased separately. The patented rake tip makes edge driving easier, prevents splitting, and doesn’t require pre-drilling.
The initial threads bite in quickly, drawing the screw in and grip the joist while the upper reverse threads pull the plank in tight. The small trim head countersinks in and is almost invisible. A TORX T-15 drive is required; however, some packaging quantities include one or two bits.
CAMO Pro Guide
The CAMO Pro Guide straddles 5-1/4” to 5-3/4” wide planks, and creates a 3/16” gap between planks. It has a guide on each end that angles and holds the fasteners for driving into each edge of the board.
Load the Guide with two screws, and drive with the T-15 bit. The Guide and bit combination perfectly set the screw depth, and prevent the screws from being over-driven.
Bolt Dropper #12 X 2-1/2″ Stainless Wood ScrewBolt Dropper 18-8 (304) marine grade stainless steel deep pocket Phillips drive screws are fully-threaded. The coarse threads provide superior grip, especially in softwood. The heads are wider to better pull boards together and also slightly rounded.
They are corrosion and rust resistant for use in pressure treated, redwood, or cedar, and near salt water. The screws also have a no-hassle lifetime guarantee!
Best Screws for Railings Posts to Joists
The railing for a deck is not only an aesthetic feature that finishes the deck, but also a major safety requirement. Decks 24-inches off the ground must have a rail to meet most building codes. Posts have commonly been bolted or lag-screwed to the deck substructure; however, there are other fasteners available that are code-compliant.
There are several ways to fasten railing posts that meet code. Securing the post to the end of the joist where it butts into the rim joist is one way. The posts need to be attached and extra blocking installed to carry the decking around the posts. Alternatively, attaching the railing posts to the outside of the rim joist minimizes deck area loss and requires no extra blocking.
FastenMaster FMTHR614-24 ThruLOKFastenMaster 6-1/4-inch ThruLOK screws are a code-compliant alternative to 1/2″ carriage bolts for fastening railing posts to joists, multi-ply beams, and other locations where bolts are traditionally used. The self-tapping hex-head galvanized screws drive with an 18volt cordless drill, require no pre-drilling, wrenches, or special tools.
ThruLOK is a three-part fastener with a paddle point screw, engineered washer, and LOK-Nut all in one. You don’t need to buy the parts separately. The silver-colored screws are available in different lengths, the 6-1/4” is ideal for connecting 4×4 posts to 2” joists. Even with the required three per post, it’s less expensive than 1/2″ bolts.
The screws work with cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated lumber and are guaranteed against corrosion and rust. Attach rail posts to joist with the prescribed pattern of three ThruLOK screws. Slide the engineered washer onto the screw, use the supplied hex-head bit and drive it through the wood to be joined.
Thread the LOK-Nut onto the tip and hand tighten to the wood – the tip must be to the ‘MIN’ line or further in the LOK-Nut window. Do the final tightening with the drill until the washer and nut tight.
GRK ICC-ESR-2442 HandyPak 5/16 by 4-Inch Structural Screws
GRK structural screws drive through the joist into the railing post to secure it in place. Less expensive and easier to use than lag-screws, the code-compliant self-tapping hardened steel screws offer great grip, shear-strength, and torque.
The screws are Climatek coated ACQ-AC257 approved for use with pressure-treated wood, cedar, and redwood. W-cut threads, zip-tip, CEE treads, and built-in self-tapping washer combine for a fast, tight, flush, and secure grip to hold wood together without splitting. Drive 3 screws through the joist into each 4×4 railing post.
The best screws for building a deck are corrosion-resistant and code-compliant for the task they are used for. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all fastener for building a deck. Selecting the best fastener for any task can be a challenge.
Hopefully, our guide helped you choose the screws needed to build your deck. If you found the guide of assistance, please share it with others. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated.