Traditional deck installation relies on pre-drilled holes and visible screws to fasten the decking material to the joists below. Hidden clips or fasteners eliminate this visibility issue and allow builders to create smooth, blemish-free decks. But are hidden clips the best solution for your wood or composite deck?
An Alternative to Deck Screws and Nails
Modern deck screws feature anti-corrosion surfaces and the ability to bend laterally when the deck comes under stress. These assets prevent them from snapping under pressure or otherwise creating hazards for homeowners and their families.
Hidden clips, however, erase the need for exposed screws and nails entirely. They clip to the sides or bottoms of the decking boards via narrow grooves notched in the sides of the boards. Many decking systems have corresponding clip kits available that make for sleek and stable installations.
An Effective Solution to Expansion and Contraction of Boards
In all climates, moisture and temperature changes cause building materials to expand or contract. Composite decking is particularly sensitive to temperature changes, which is why ungrooved boards with exposed nails or screws sometimes don’t function as well as ones with hidden fasteners.
Hidden clip systems allow for more deck board expansion, contraction, and movement than installations with visible nails and screws. Using hidden clips may prevent splits in wood deck boards, which can occur over time with the top down screwing method. Also, since hidden clips don’t perforate the surface of the deck boards, they can minimize water penetration.
A Smooth Decking Surface Solution
If you want to install a deck yourself, hidden clips add time and labor to the equation. They require more effort than tackling boards with a nail or screw gun. However, they produce smoother, more polished results.
Start on one edge of your deck with a single grooved board. Set it into place so that it’s flush with the edge, then insert a hidden clip into the groove. Slide a second grooved board along the first, pre-drill the hole, and drive a screw into the fastener between the boards. With most manufacturers, you’ll create a space between each board of about 1/4 inch.
A Myriad of Solutions
Many types of hidden clips exist. Some involve teeth or pins that dig into the boards from below, securing them in place. Others employ tracks along the sides or bottoms of boards for sliding neighboring boards into place.
The simplest designs work with grooves in the boards, as mentioned above. If you plan to install your own deck, consider purchasing pre-cut boards. The pre-existing grooves will save you the time and expertise required to create the grooves yourself.
If you take this route, you’ll need to buy the hidden clips that correspond with the boards you’ve selected. Different manufacturers use clips of varying sizes and designs, so you typically can’t mix and match.
Time to Upgrade
If you’re looking to add some pizzazz to your backyard, a new deck is a great way to transform your space. Although they are more expensive that traditional deck screws, hidden deck clips are definitely worth considering if you want to build a deck without exposed screws, nails, or other fasteners.
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