Use Stainless Steel Nails When Building a Deck

What Type of Nails Not to Use When Building a Deck

By Mark J. Donovan

Years ago I built a deck using Mahogany decking for the surface. I had also recently purchased a finished nail gun and compressor and was anxious to try it out. In an attempt to speed up the process of securing the Mahogany deck boards to the deck frame I used my new nail gun and galvanized finish nails to tack down the boards. I used the finished nails sparingly, only putting finish nails in every other floor joist and on 24 inch center spacings. I then went back afterwards and hand nailed in Stainless Steel Nails over every deck floor joist on 12” centers.

And where I had installed a finished nail, I simply nailed a stainless steel nail directly over it to effectively mask the small hole in the decking.

I also used the same technique on the rim joists to dress up the deck skirt. Basically I wrapped Mahogany deck lumber over the deck skirt’s 2×8 lumber to dress up the sides of the deck, and again I tacked the Mahogany deck boards to the rim joists using my nail gun and galvanized finish nails. Afterwards, I went back and used stainless steel nails to hold the boards permanently in place.

The deck looked great for about 3 months. Then I began to notice dark stain patterns forming on the deck surface and dark streak stains along the deck skirt. After a close inspection I determined that the dark stains were occurring from the galvanized finish nails that I had used. They were oxidizing and corroding and in the process producing a dark stain on the deck surface.

I sanded the deck surface and then applied a coat of water sealer to help retard the oxidation and corrosion of the finished nails. This helped for awhile, but within a year the stains were back.

 Sand your deck and restore it to looking like new!

I still have the deck, along with all its warts, however I plan to finally replace the Mahogany deck boards soon. This time, however, I am going to go with composite decking boards and forgo the use of galvanized nails or fasteners of any type. In my opinion and experience, always use stainless steel nails when building a deck.

If you want to prevent this type of deck construction mistake, and many others, see my Deck Installation Bid Sheet. It captures all of the “watch out fors” when either building your own deck or hiring a deck building contractor.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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