Buying Guide

Types of Outdoor Nails and Screws

Outdoor Nails and Screws

Nails and screws that are for use outdoors must be able to withstand rain, snow, heat and cold.

  • Stainless steel and aluminum fasteners repel rust and last for long periods of time.
  • There are two types of stainless steel fasteners available, 304 and 316. 316 should be used in moist and humid climates, while 304 works best in dry climates.

Fastener Coating Types
Electrogalvanized - Roofing Nails
Ceramic - Screws
Hot Galvanized - Common Nails
Hot Galvanized - Simpson Strong-Tie
Description Electrogalvanized Epoxy and Ceramic Hot Galvanized Hot-Dipped Galvanized
Feature/Benefits Electroplating is used to coat nails and screws with a thin layer of zinc. Screws are coated with a thin layer of epoxy or ceramic. Heated fasteners are tumbled through zinc powder or zinc chips, which bond to the surface. Fasteners are bathed in molten zinc, which allows for a complete and thorough coating.
Other Considerations Less expensive Moderately effective Often used in conjunction with pneumatic nail guns Moderately priced Offer reliable corrosion resistance Less expensive Coating is thin and may be somewhat inconsistent Higher initial cost Available with varying levels of thickness Extremely effective
Outdoor Fastener Features

Outdoor fasteners feature different head and shank constructions used for varying applications.

  • Larger nail heads provide more striking area while smaller heads are best for finishing.
  • Spiral, threaded and ring shanks provide extra holding power.
  • Exterior screws are available with square and Phillips heads that are less likely to strip.
  • Galvanized staples are good for attaching wire fencing to fence posts.
  • Galvanized nails are good on the underside of a structure.
Installation Considerations

Choose outdoor fasteners that are nonmagnetic and resist rust and corrosion.

  • Magnetic nails can have adverse reactions with other nearby metals, so use them sparingly outdoors.
  • Consider drilling pilot holes before driving exterior wood screws, deck screws or nails, especially when driving close to the edge of the wood.
  • Temperature changes can cause some siding to expand and contract, so leave a little room between the head and siding to compensate for this movement.
  • Salty sea air speeds up the corrosion process, so take that into consideration near the coasts.
  • Blunt nails are harder to drive but less likely to split wood.
  • Nails can be blunted by tapping the points with a hammer.
  • Siding nails can be countersunk or hidden with a coat of paint.
  • Railing posts may require stronger fasteners, such as hex bolts or nuts and washers.

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