Complete Guide to Hidden Deck Fasteners
If you’re a do-it-yourself homeowner, then you might be acquainted with the deck fasteners that come standard to any kit — nails and screws. While these work for many projects, they can be time-consuming and difficult, and can even damage your brand-new composite deck boards. What if there was an easier way? Well, luckily there is! You’ll find hidden deck fasteners in most hardware stores (such as Lowes or Home Depot) or at online retailers like Amazon. They will save you hours of time when it comes to building a new deck or repairing one. We’ve created this guide to help get you started with all things hidden deck fasteners so that your next DIY deck-building project goes smoothly!
Here’s what we’ll cover in the guide:
- What are hidden deck fasteners
- WHY you should use hidden deck fasteners
- WHEN you should use hidden deck fasteners
- Where to buy hidden deck fasteners
- How much do hidden deck fasteners cost
- Features to look for in hidden deck fasteners
What are hidden deck fasteners?
Hidden deck fasteners are concealed from the eye. Many manufacturers produce hidden deck fasteners, including TurboClip. Our Universal Hidden Deck Clips are one example, but there are others, including Trex, Deckwise, and Camo.
Unlike screws and nails, MOST hidden deck fasteners do not require you to drill holes into your composite decking material. Because they aren’t driven into the decking, they do not require as much force as a nail or screw would need.
Most hidden deck fasteners consist of two parts: a clip, which slides into the grooved edge of your decking board (most composite decking is available with a grooved edge, specifically for use with hidden deck fasteners.) The second part is a screw (technically known as a fastener), which goes through a hole in the clip and is driven into the substructure — usually into the joists. These screws are designed for exterior use, so they are often made from stainless steel, or have a special coating to protect the metal from corrosion.
Most of the fastener’s surface area is hidden by the groove in the composite material, which gives you a clean look from all sides — no screw or nail heads on the surface of your beautiful composite deck boards
Why use hidden deck fasteners?
When it comes to hidden deck fasteners, you’ll find that there are several benefits to using them. First of all, hidden deck fasteners are (obviously) hidden from view, so no nail heads or screws will be seen on the surface of your composite decking material. This not only makes a project look cleaner and more attractive, but it also protects against rusting and corrosion which can occur with exposed metal.
Another added benefit is that hidden deck fasteners require no pilot holes. If you were to use face-mounted deck screws, you would need to pre-drill holes slightly smaller than your fasteners. Using hidden deck fasteners (like from TurboClip) means less drilling and more time saved — so if you want to spend less time building your composite deck and more time enjoying it, hidden deck fasteners are the way to go!
Lastly, hidden deck fasteners last just as long if not longer than standard screws, because they’re less exposed to the elements.
When to use hidden deck fasteners.
You should use hidden deck fasteners when the appearance of your deck boards is important, such as with composite decking, or exotic, weather-resistant lumber like Brazilian IPE (pronounced EE-pay.) You also should use hidden deck fasteners when you don’t want exposed screw heads, which can be a tripping hazard or even lacerate bare feet. While hidden deck fasteners are great for most decking projects, they are not ideal for all situations. They do not work particularly well on treated wood deck boards, which are “solid surface” and lack the grooved edge found in composite decking. Because treated lumber bows and warps over time, face-mounted screws will hold best.
Where to buy hidden deck fasteners.
Once you realize the benefits hidden deck fasteners have to offer your next DIY project, it’s time to get out and buy some! While hidden deck fasteners are not always offered in every hardware store, most big-box building supply stores (such as Lowes or Home Depot) will carry them. Of course, the online retail giant Amazon also offers a wide array of hidden deck fastener products, including TurboClip Universal Hidden Deck Clips.
The affordable cost of hidden deck fasteners.
If hidden deck fasteners are the right solution for your next DIY project, then you’ll be happy to know that they are relatively affordable. They are packaged and priced based on the decking area in square feet. Generally speaking, hidden deck fasteners cost between 60 and 90 cents per square foot. While this is more expensive than face-mount decking screws, you’re also buying improved appearance, safety, and in the case of TurboClip, dramatically reduced installation time.
Features to look for in hidden deck fasteners.
Every manufacturer has their own approach to hidden deck fasteners, but here are some things to look for:
- Weather-resistant fasteners: Your deck is outside, so it’s going to be exposed to the elements: brutal sun, pounding rain, as well as snow and ice. (Lately, no ZIP code is safe from these!) Make sure that your hidden deck fasteners include stainless steel or coated screws.
- Weather-resistant clips: Some brands use metal clips: these are more susceptible to corrosion than clips made from HDPE or other corrosion-resistant materials. Trex uses nylon, while TurboClip uses HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), the same material used in cutting boards, underground pipes — and milk jugs. HDPE fasteners like TurboClip can be made from your recycled milk jugs, soda bottles, and laundry detergent containers.
- Self-gapping: a good hidden deck fastener is designed to provide a uniform gap between decking boards, which saves time and makes for a more uniform, attractive appearance.
- Narrow-gap options: Appearance is a big reason to choose hidden deck fasteners. A smaller gap between boards (3/16”) means more of your deck area is covered by decking.
- Time-saving: Some hidden deck fasteners come as separate components: a clip and a fastener that you have to combine. This gets tedious and can make your deck project take even longer. Look for an integrated clip and screw system. TurboClip takes this idea a step further: they come in “sticks” of 16 fasteners. You drive a screw, then twist the stick to separate the installed clip. This unique approach (so unique, in fact, that we hold a US patent on the design) can reduce your deck install time by as much as 60%.
In this article, we explained what hidden deck fasteners are, why you should use them, and when you should use them. We told you what hidden deck fasteners cost, and where to buy them. We even shared five features to look for when you’re choosing a brand of hidden deck fasteners. We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions about hidden deck fasteners, ask them on our social channels. You’ll find links to our social network accounts at the bottom of this page.