Hidden Fastening Systems vs. Screws for Composite Decks

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Are you planning to build a new composite deck or refinish an existing structure this summer? Along with deciding the size, shape and color of your outdoor living area, another important decision you’ll have to make is whether or not you want to use screws to attach the decking to its frame or use a hidden fastening system. The decision impacts both the aesthetic quality and structural integrity of the deck. Here are a few things to consider when determining which method is right for you.

Traditional Deck Installation Using Screws

Attaching deck boards to the support framing with screws has been the traditional method of choice for a long time. Not only is it a fairly easy, straightforward process for both wood and composite decking, screws also provide a strong, secure bond. Screws work great for fastening wooden deck boards and are economical as well. Improvements in screw technology include torx drive heads the reduce stripping, auger tips and cutting points designed into the treads to reduce resistance entering the wood and elements added under the screw head that serve as a countersink. On the other hand, screws can be unsightly. Since each screw is inserted through the top of the decking, the head of screw will remain visible on the surface of the board. Many homeowners find this aesthetically undesirable.

Also, screws can be difficult to install in composite decking products. The high density of these products often require holes to be pre-drilled before the screws can be inserted, which adds time and money to a decking project.

New Hidden Fastening Systems Look Better, Install Faster

Installing decking with a hidden fastening system creates a clean, smooth surface. Rather than installing screws through the top of every deck board, clips are attached to the framing boards first. Then or simultaneously through different methods, depending on the manufacturer, decking is attached to each clip. DuraLife decking offers three composite decking hidden fastening systems to make deck installation fast, easy and flexible. The DuraLife Step-Clip™ , and Fastenator systems are ideal for installing interior deck boards, while the Cortex Plugs are great for hiding screws on steps, edge boards and benches.

Advantages of using a composite decking hidden fastening system include delivering an aesthetically clean look, requiring no pre-drilling and allowing deck boards to easily be removed if needed. Duralife’s Step-Clip fastening system also dramatically reduces installation time by up to 50 percent. Another benefit of the Step-Clip system is that it provides complete joist protection (no tape needed) and automatically spaces each composite deck board 3/16” apart, creating a clean uniform look as soon as each board is clipped into place.

Experts recommend selecting a hidden fastening system that allows for topside installation. Systems that are installed from below can be problematic when a deck is either very high or very low to the ground. Additionally, experts also point out that not every hidden fastening system will work with every type of composite decking. In some cases, the initial cost of installing a composite decking fastening system can be higher than installing with screws. However, with shorter installation times, delivering a cleaner, smoother surface and delivering a much more pleasing aesthetic, many homeowners are choosing to forego screws on their new deck.

Get free samples of the DuraLife Step-Clip Fastening System with every Free composite decking sample we send out. Order yours now! 


This article is made possible by DuraLife.DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products.More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Free Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.