Constructing decks is my game, the part that I get the most satisfaction out of and get to do the most. Through this time of building decks, I get to use and discover different products that make deck building better. Either better in that it is easier or in creating a stronger, more durable deck for less. I rarely get all three, but these are some deck products that have made building decks better. My must-have list of deck building products.
In no particular order, as this is a growing list as I find more products that help to build a better deck to be enjoyed. Many can be ordered online from Lowes. Grouping them will help you get the minimum order size to avoid shipping fees. Which if you look over the entire list will not be hard. There are some great products for deck building.
If you want to skip the explanations, here is the shortlist. But I do recommend understanding why.
PROFAST DECK SCREWS
CAMO EDGE SCREWS for wood decking
Nichigo G-TAPE, joist protection
Budget-Friendly Alternative, RESISTO TAPE
GRK FASTENER, for Ledger
Strong-Drive SD CONNECTOR Screw for joist hangers
PROFAST DECK SCREWS
When I first saw them with their T-20 Star Drive, Aggressive Countersinking Blades, No Split Twist Shank and Bore-Fast Thread. I was like, “looks gimmicky!” and walked away. But a few months later, I needed screws and convinced myself that I should give them a try.
“looks gimmicky. I was wrong.”
It took a little getting use to the stardrive, but it does hold the screw better. Less stripping and makes it easier to place the screw in the driver and do that awkward reach around to screw in.
The twist shank bores out excess wood to prevent splitting the wood. It works, splitting the wood less. I started screwing close to the ends without worrying about it splitting. Not recommended, but ….it happens ?
If I were to have a complaint, the countersink blades on the screw head do their job a little too effectively. You can bore right through the wood without sucking the board down. A feature of standard screws that I enjoy to pull the boards tightly together.
But that being said, I tried to go back to standard deck screws. But quickly, I was longing for the profast, counting each screw till I could use them again. Avoid regret order and stick with Profast.
CAMO EDGE SCREWS
A must for wood decking. Screws are installing on the edge of the decking out of sight, giving you a clean decking surface to enjoy. Without small pools of water and dirt and sliver breaking from the indents.
To use Camo edge screws, you will need the Marksman Pro-Gun to clip on the decking while holding the screws in place. Check out the fuller write-up in must-have in Deck Construction Tools, but for now, we will focus on the screws. If nothing else, just another shameless plug, I love this tool and prefer to use it with all my wood decking. It improves the decking that much. It will slow down progress a little compared to face screwing, but the end product is worth it.
The screws designed to drill through the edge of the decking. Holding the decking down where it is most likely to curl and cup, the edge of the decking. This technique also hides the screw head, providing a smooth unmark surface, as I already mentioned.
Camo screws come in two lengths 1 7/8″ (48mm) and 2 7/8″ (72mm), both #7 in diameter. The 1 7/8″ (48mm) work great for 5/4 decking. If you are going old school with 2×6 deck boards, you will need the longer 2 7/8″ (72mm). Also, if you feel better, with slightly more hold into the joists. Driven at an angle, they have significant holding power, but sometimes a little extra length is a good idea.
For 5 ½” (140mm) decking, you will need 350 screws for every 100 sqft of deck. So, a package of 700 will be enough for a 12 x12 deck with some extra to spare. A larger deck will need more, of course. Just to give you an idea of how many to order.
JOIST MEMBRANE TAPE
What is joist membrane tape, and why do I recommend it? Joist membrane is rolled roofing for your deck joists, beams and ledger.
Before installing the decking, the membrane is installed on the substructure like tape, providing an extra layer of protection for the joist. Sealing around the screws to prevent water from getting into the joist and rooting it out. Almost every deck that I replace the rot is in the top 2″ (50mm) of the joist. The rain sits on the top or follows the screws into the joist rooting them out. Joist membrane prevents this by diverting the rain off the joists, keeping them dry and strong.
There are two things I look for with joist tape, pattern free and adhesion.
When I look down at the decking, I do not want to see partial letters on the joists between the decking. It may not seem like a big deal, especially with composite hidden fasteners covering most of the joist gap, but it is. Especially since it is such on an easy fix, buy pure black, unpatterned membrane, and you don’t have to worry about it.
More important than a clean appearance is adhesion. Yes, once screwed down, the decking will hold the membrane in place, but till then, a strong hold is priceless. Also, I like using membrane wider than the wood. Those wings look ugly when they open up under the decking. A strong adhesion solves all this.
is the best joist membrane I have worked with. Coming in both 2″, 4″, 6″, 9″ and 12″ widths. A size for every application. You can even use this for taping seams for dry deck membrane.
“Tested for 50 year aging and have demonstrated to retain over 60% of original adhesion and over 100% of original tensile strength.”
The thing I like most about G-tape is useability. I don’t know the science but G-tape sticks to joist but not to itself. If it folds or somehow sticks to itself, you can pull it apart and continue attaching it to the joist. This fact alone won me over to it.
G-tape can also be used with PVC decking. Azek an excellent long-lasting decking board, reacts negatively with elastomeric bitumen. Something to watch for before ordering joist membrane. Will it work with your decking?
Not as easy to work with as G-tape but at one third the price. It’s a little annoying cutting off and throwing away stuck together tape. But Resisto is much more budget-friendly. Even with the occasional extra waste, you will save money while still protecting the joist. Take your time installing it, and you will save a pile of cash. Except remember, this is not for PVC decking. Always check if it is compatible before ordering.
My go-to for attaching deck ledger boards. This is the most important connection in the entire deck build. If the ledger falls off, it doesn’t matter what you did for the rest of the deck.
I love GRK 5/16″ x 3 1/8″ RSS Structural Screws for these two reasons.
- Strength of Connection
- Ease of installation
Few fasteners are rated for deck ledgers. GRK are, and they have incredible grip holding the ledger in place. This is super clear when you are sucking in the ledger. The screws pull the ledger tight regardless of how warped the board is or what is behind it.
Ease of installation is why they replace lag screws or bolts for me. They save me from predrilling, bolting or any other cumbersome activity required to attach the ledger properly. I simply drive them in with my 20-amp impact driver with the spider bit supplied with the box. It’s that simple.
There is some strange satisfaction driving these into the wood. I swear that sometimes I add an extra screw just for the pleasure of driving them in. They are that easy to work with. Very satisfying and make the deck stronger to boot.
I recommend 3 1/8″ for the ledger but for beams, post and other applications, they also have 4″, 5 1/8″ and 6″. A length for every application.
Almost as critical as the fastener for the ledger is joist hanger’s and their fasteners. There is much to say. If you wish to read the specs and my reasoning for my recommendation, click here.
In short, Simpson screws are the easiest to install, using the 1 ½” for the face screws and 2 ½” for the angle screws. The threaded screws in the hanger will hold the joist in place better than nails, minimizing withdrawal while increasing shear strength.
If you want the strongest possible connection, use Simpson #10 HDG hanger nails for the hangers’ face. A little harder to install, but nails are superior for shear strength to screws. Which ever one you choose, nails or screws, both are approved by Simpson for their hangers. But the nail screws combination is the best arrangement you can build.
Whenever you cut pressure-treated wood, you are exposing untreated wood. Wood that can quickly and easily rot.
Solution, end cut treatment. Have a small container with a brush beside your saw and give a quick pass after cutting. Helps to protect the wood by treating the untreated exposed area. The same principle as staining your deck but done to cuts. To areas that will be hidden after construction preventing stain from being applied later.