Wrong nails for decking

Old 03-31-20, 07:18 AM
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Wrong nails for decking

Hi there. So in the past I've helped my Dad do a deck or two but this is the first time I've redecked on my own and I made a mistake. I used finishing nails instead of decking nails and I only realized my mistake after I'd finished the job. Now I'm not quite sure how to extract those finishing nails so I can replace them with the right nails. Any advice? Thanks 😊
Old 03-31-20, 07:35 AM
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Any advice?
Yes, NEVER use nails on decks always use screws made for use on decks. As far as removing the nails, without seeing your deck I would guess you will need to carefully pull up all the boards to enable removal
the nails.
Old 03-31-20, 07:54 AM
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Trying to extract them is going to be a pain.
I would use a nail set and drive them down some.
Then drive either a nail or a screw as tight as possible beside them.

As far as a nail or a screw it is basically users preference.
Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Old 03-31-20, 08:02 AM
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I would leave the nails in place. You likely will do more harm than good trying to replace them.

Next, go purchase the correct deck screws. NOT NAILS. Make sure you buy the screws approved for use with modern treated lumber. Having a cordless impact driver will make the job go much faster.
joecaption voted this post useful.
Old 03-31-20, 08:48 AM
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I'll probably get some flak from the regulars on this site but here is my experience.

The 11' X 28' back deck on my house was built a year or so before 1975 when I bought the house. The decking is 2X4 redwood nailed with 4-inch finishing nails. In the past 45 years most or all of the decking has been removed at least once for various reasons (insect damage to original untreated beams and joists, moisture damage from a dryer vent underneath, damage from falling ice dams, and construction of a greenhouse on one-half of the deck.) In every case the decking was pried up and then the nails removed from the back rather than trying to remove the nails from the top. The decking was then nailed back down with 4-inch finishing nails--partly because that's how they were done originally and partly because deck screws became popular/recommended in later years. It has worked for me with no problem.

I also have 300 square feet of deck at my vacation home in Maine. That has 1X6 PT pine decking on PT structure built in 1982. Again at that time deck screws were not popular/recommended and I used 2.5 inch galvanized box nails. Driven at an angle they are still solid and have kept the decking from cupping, warping or lifting. Usually in the spring I have to pound down a few of the nails that have risen due to freezing but not so many as to be a problem. (They are tough on bare feet, though.)

Just my experience. Yours will depend on the materials you used, how it looks and weathers, and how much more work you want to put into it. Depending on how it looks having screws available to add to any boards that try to warp or lift would be a good idea. It should be fine as it is--up to you.

Last edited by 2john02458; 03-31-20 at 09:30 AM.
Old 04-01-20, 05:53 AM
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It is not a question of will the nail/deck boards loosen but when. What type of material is the decking and how did you nail it?
Old 04-01-20, 06:57 AM
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At the lake I have a deck with 2X6 cedar decking and fir stringers using galvanized decking nails.
Never had a problem with them loosening or raising and the deck is 30 years old.
The advantage to nails is if you have to sand it due to the finish then you can easily drive them in a little further.
You cannot do that with screws.

At home the deck is pressure treated 2X6 again on fir stringers and has decking screws.
Again they hold the decking but was a royal pain when I had to sand it and also the sanding had to be light.
But with pressure treated you do not want to sand much in any case.
Digging out old finish and dirt from the screw heads is a tedious job and very few of them will drive further in so you have to remove them and replace them. Also some will not unscrew.

So on cedar I would use nails and on pressure treated I would use screws.
Screws because even though I do not have personal experience I think they hold better.
Also you will want to avoid sanding it if at all possible so choose you finish (if any) carefully.

Old 04-01-20, 07:35 AM
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Assuming that you used galvanized finishing nails I would leave it alone, until or if you have a problem. Option #2 for me would be to screw alongside the nails.

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