If you're interested in building a wood fence or having a fence built by a contractor, you're probably considering many components of your project. You want to use materials and construction techniques to ensure your fence is sturdy and will last for a long time.
One part of the fence that should not be overlooked is the fasteners. Fasteners, or the parts that hold different elements of the fence together, are crucial to the durability and lifespan of your fence. There are many types from which to choose, each with it's pros and cons. Many contractors will use different fastener types interchangeably, depending on the fence style, and may even use a combination of multiple fastener types. Understanding the importance of these parts of a wood fence ensures a successful and long-lasting installation.
In this blog, we will break down the basics of different fastener materials to help you understand what's best for the construction of your fence.
Here are some of the most common wood fence fastener types.
Nails are widely used in fence construction. Construction nails are long and can be useful in instances where strength is required. Such instances can include attaching kickboards that are "toenailed" (inserted diagonally) to the posts or attaching pickets to rails on Nail-Up fences.
Staples are convenient due to their small size and they are less invasive than nails or screws. They're ideal for attaching smaller pieces like trims and are most commonly used on pickets for Picture Frame fences.
Screws are ideal for things like gate hinges and latches, attaching pickets to a metal frame and attaching rails to metal posts. Screws can make future fence repairs easier as they allow for easier removal. However, the installation can be more labor intensive, as installers will need to use an impact driver. Screws are also more expensive than staples or nails.
Choosing the right screws is crucial for the longevity and structural integrity of your wood fence. Here are three options:
Galvanized screws are an excellent choice for wood fences due to their durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. These screws are coated with a protective layer of zinc, which enhances their lifespan and helps prevent them from deteriorating in outdoor environments. The galvanized coating makes them suitable for both pressure-treated and untreated wood, ensuring a secure and long-lasting connection for your fence boards.
Stainless steel screws are another top option for wood fences, offering exceptional strength and corrosion resistance. Their composition makes them highly resistant to rust, making them ideal for areas with high humidity or exposure to moisture. Stainless steel screws are also visually appealing, as they maintain their polished look even after years of use. Consider using stainless steel screws if you want a fence that combines durability and aesthetics.
Ceramic or polymer coated exterior screws are specifically designed for outdoor applications and are a popular choice for wood fences. These screws feature a protective coating made of ceramic or polymer materials, which provides enhanced resistance against moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors. The coating not only protects the screws from corrosion but also helps them blend seamlessly with the color of the wood, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing fence. If you prioritize both durability and a seamless look, consider using ceramic or polymer coated exterior screws for your wood fence.
All three of these faster types can be installed relatively quickly. If you use power tools, a nail gun will typically be faster than installing screws using an impact driver. Sometimes pre-drilling is necessary for screws, as they can be more likely to cause the wood to split. It's important to remember that DIY fence installation is more complex than you may originally think, so it's always recommended to use a licensed fence contractor. Without the correct tools and experience, your fence could end up unstable, looking unsightly, and you could even sustain an injury during installation.
A well built wood fence of any style can add major curb appeal and transform the appearance of your property. The fasteners that are used can impact the overall look of your fence, especially if not installed properly. For example, poor installation can mean that some screws are sunk so deep into the wood they are not visible, while others stick out from the surface. With nails, it's important to select the right style of nail for the type of wood your fence is made from.
Regardless the type of fastener used, it's always important that fastener is galvanized (covered in zinc) so that it's protected from rust. Fasteners that aren't galvanized may react with the natural tannins in the wood leaving dark streak marks on the fence.
Ultimately, there isn't one fastener type that reigns supreme. They each come with benefits and potential setbacks. A reputable contractor will be familiar with each type and will know what type or combination is best for your fence. Contractors should also offer some length of warranty for your new fence regardless of the type or technique used. What's most important is that the work as a whole is part of your project's warranty coverage.
Regardless of what style fence you choose, a great fence is a wise investment!