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Choosing the Right Deck Fastener

Your deck is an investment—be sure you’re using the best fastener for your project.

Decks are no longer just a spot to grill. They have become outdoor living spaces, extensions of your home to enjoy for years to come. While every deck requires routine maintenance of cleaning the boards or staining if needed, one thing you’ll hopefully avoid is ever having to replace boards. You can reduce this potential by being selective with the deck fasteners you use. Typical deck screws, or deck nails, that are fastened through the face of the board have a higher tendency to split or crack the decking. Once you add some moisture to the mix thanks to rain or snow, the decking won’t just look bad—it will be damaged beyond repair.

All that to say that the type of fastener you use is just as important as the kind of decking you install. While there are various fastening options available, CAMO offers deck fastening systems to help you install decking smarter, faster, easier, and better than other products. So first, let’s break down some information about coatings and alloys, then walk through options based on the type of decking you want to use.

Fastener Coatings and Alloys

Depending on where you live and the kind of deck project you’re installing, you’ll need to be sure you’re using a fastener with the correct coating or alloy to protect your project against rust and corrosion.


PROTECH is CAMO’s proprietary fastener coating suitable for use with pressure treated lumber, PVC, composite, and capped composite deck boards in inland environments that face regular exposure to the elements. It’s available in various colors to blend into whatever decking you use.


305 Stainless Steel

305 Stainless Steel fasteners are ideal for exterior structures 3,000 ft. or further from a saltwater shoreline or any outdoor project that you want to protect against potential corrosion. They offer an excellent aesthetic finish in installations of pressure treated, PVC, composite, and capped composite boards.


316 Stainless Steel

If you want to install the best type of fastener for your build, 316 Stainless Steel is the only choice. 316 Stainless Steel is required in coastal, marine, or waterway areas within 3,000 ft. of saltwater. It is also the best practice for structures exposed to chlorine, wood strippers, or ice-melting chemicals and agricultural environments that deal with chemicals, pesticides, and treatments. You’ll also need to use 316 Stainless Steel if you’re installing cedar, redwood, or hardwood decking where tannin release caused by carbon fasteners may cause staining.


Deck Fasteners by Board Type

Now that you understand alloys and coatings let’s review the best CAMO deck fasteners by board type.

Pressure Treated Lumber Decking

Remember the split boards we mentioned earlier? We were referring to pressure treated lumber, which, while it’s the least expensive option, doesn’t have the lifespan of other types of decking—especially if you don’t use the right fastener.

The best fastener to preserve the face of the deck board and add longevity are CAMO Edge Screws that secure the boards to the joist through the edge. These innovative screws feature a patented rake tip that augers board material as they’re driven, reducing the potential for splitting and cracking, and a trimhead that reduces visibility on the side of the board. For pressure treated lumber, install Edge Screws using the MARKSMAN Pro®-X1 tool that clamps to the board and creates 1/16 in. spacing. For no gap between boards, use the MARKSMAN Edge Tool.

For a faster and more comfortable installation with the same great hidden fastener result, use the CAMO DRIVE® tool with Collated Edge Screws for Wood and Composite. With the stand-up fastening tool, you can quickly move from joist to joist, securing the boards in no time. In addition, using DRIVE will leave no gap between boards at all, which is great for wet pressure treated lumber that will shrink over time.

If you desire the traditional look of a face-fastened deck, use the CAMO DRIVE and Collated Face Deck Screws for Pressure Treated. These screws have the same rake tip as the Edge screw, so the board material is removed while you drive the screw, reducing the potential for splits and cracks.

Cedar and Redwood Decking

Cedar and redwood follow similar guidelines as pressure treated lumber, so Edge fastening is the best way to secure them. However, you will want to use 316 Stainless Steel Edge Screws to prevent tannin staining. Luckily, CAMO Edge Screws have a black coating that blends into the side of the board, still giving you that hidden fastener finish instead of seeing bright Stainless Steel between the boards.

You’ll need to leave a 3/16 in. gap between deck boards to allow for expansion and contraction, so use the MARKSMAN Pro® tool for hand drive installations, or use secondary spacers with the DRIVE tool and 316 Stainless Steel Collated Edge Screws for Wood and Composite.


Square Hardwood Decking

If you’re investing in a natural hardwood that offers strength, durability, and beautiful, long-lasting aesthetics, you don’t want to blemish the surface with a regular deck screw. Instead, preserve its beauty and achieve a fastener-free surface on Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Kebony, Angelique, and Merbau decking with the MARKSMAN Pro® tool and 316 Stainless Steel CAMO Edge Screws. 

Given the density of the boards, you will need to pre-drill holes before fastening to eliminate any potential for splitting the board or snapping the screw. To speed up fastening, we recommend using two drills, one with the pre-drill bit and one with the driver bit, so you can place the MARKSMAN Pro tool, run the pre-drill bit through it, drop the screws in, and fasten.

Square Composite and PVC Decking

Hopefully, you’ve caught on by now, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Edge fastening is the best way to install square composite and PVC decking. For uncapped composites and PVCs, you don’t need to pre-drill holes before fastening screws. That means you can fasten with either the MARKSMAN Pro tool or standing up with the CAMO DRIVE tool and Collated Edge Screws for Wood and Composite using secondary spacers to create a 3/16 in. gap between boards. For capped composites, on the other hand, you will need to pre-drill holes before fastening to avoid any mushrooming or difficulty driving, so only the MARKSMAN Pro tool is recommended.

For a traditional face-fastened look in a fraction of the time of crawling around on your hands and knees, use CAMO Collated Face Screws for Composite with the DRIVE tool. These screws have a sharp point to start fast and are color-matched to blend into the surface on the most popular deck boards.

Grooved Decking

The best fasteners for any grooved decking are CAMO Universal Deck Clips: EDGE® Clips for 90° deck patterns and EDGEX® Clips for any deck pattern on wood joists, and EDGEXMETAL® Clips for installs on metal joists. They are fast and easy to install— EDGE Clips sit on the joist while EDGEX Clips fit in the board’s groove, so you can quickly place them with one hand and set rows of boards and clips in place before fastening.

CAMO Universal Deck Clips feature a stainless steel gusset that holds the boards down, making them 88% stronger than competitors’ clips in reducing lateral movement and up to 50% stronger in uplift holding power. Plus, the plastic clip body covers the joist completely and creates consistent 3/16 in. spacing, making a perfect install possible.

These clips also offer the best install experience, coming with the NEVER-MISS Guide that sits over the screw, so you can quickly direct the bit onto the top of the screw. For the fastest installation, you can use the CAMO ClipDRIVE® or DRIVE stand-up tools to fasten while moving from joist to joist. Finally, they’re backed by a CAMO warranty, so you can confidently use them for any grooved decking install.

Exterior Fasteners for Any Install

We know you need fasteners for more than securing the deck boards, and CAMO has you covered there too. Whether you need nails to secure framing, joist hangers, or hurricane straps, or deck and trim screws for other wood-to-wood or finish applications, you can rely on CAMO exterior fasteners to secure your projects.

So when it comes to installing your decking, it may seem like there are many deck fasteners to choose from. But to get the job done well, so you can enjoy your outdoor living space, you’ve got to choose CAMO.