What Screws Should You Use For Building A Deck?

Building A Deck This Summer?

Deck Screws For Building a Deck

Having a deck in your home is a luxury many people enjoy having. Being able to sit outside and enjoy the weather or view with family and friends is an excellent way to spend nice days, especially with summer right around the corner.

If you decide to take the journey of building a deck yourself, you are going to have many questions along the way. One of the most essential points to consider is “Which screws should I use for this deck?”. We’ve heard this question before, and there are quite a few things to take into consideration.

1. What Material Should I Use?

Of all the available materials to use for your deck, the most common is stainless steel. Stainless steel deck screws offer an excellent solution due to their increased corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel can still corrode in certain situations so make sure you have the correct grade for your environment.

2. Do You Want To See The Screw Heads?

One of the biggest concerns when making your deck is choosing the correct screw head. Deck screws are usually only found in flat head varieties so they can sit flush with the wood once installed. The question remains, do you want to see the head?

If your answer is yes, then a standard stainless steel flat head deck screw will suffice. If your answer is no, then you have a few options for hiding the screw heads.

  • Painted Head Deck Screws – These stainless steel screws are stainless steel with painted heads to match common wood colors. They are the easiest way to hide a deck screw because they are camouflaged in plain sight. Just install them as you would any other deck screw.
  • Hardwood Plug Kits – These kits come with little wood corks that you can use to cover the screws. They require more work to install properly but usually leave a great result. First a countersunk hole must be made to sink the screws lower into the wood. Then an adhesive is applied to the plug and placed in the hole over the screw head. One downfall to this method is that removing them is difficult. You can also get a drill bit that can cut these plugs for you instead of buying a kit: Hardwood Plug Cutter Bit.
  • Ipe Clips – A third and quickly becoming a very popular option are Ipe Clips. Ipe Clips are installed between the boards of a deck hiding the screws entirely. Mostly used with Ipe wood, these clips can also be used with regular wood to help create an evenly spaced deck.

What Drive Style Should I Use?

Usually, there are three types of drive to consider here. Phillips, Square or Star drive. Although all three are decent choices, we recommend using the star drive for installations. The star drive has the least chance of slippage and cam out during installation making it the ideal choice when working with finished products where slipping out of the drive could damage the surface you are working on. In fact, on many decks built today you are more likely to see star drive screws being used.

Building a deck can be a daunting task but with the proper screws you are now one step closer to enjoying your yard and the weather this year.

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Types Of Screws | Albany County Fasteners

Types of Screws

Screws are a fastener variety that is widely used every day. They come in many shapes and sizes and all have different uses depending on the type of screw. The word screw and bolt are often used interchangeably. You will often see smaller fasteners called screws and as they get bigger they are referred to as bolts. Generally, the term screw defines any fastener that after being installed into the material holds itself into that material. A bolt is used to bolt two materials together by going through the materials and being fastened with a nut, creating a bolted joint. Consider that a machine screw needs a nut or a pre-tapped hole to install.

Screw Terminology

Screw Terminology Diagram: Drive Style, Head Type, Shank, Threading, Point, Diameter, Length, Threads Per Inch, and Thread Pitch

The material that a screw is made out of. Often chosen based on environmental and structural needs.
Different compositions of a material that can change it’s qualities, making it a better choice based on environmental and structural needs.
The thickness of the over-all screw. Determines the size of the hole that needs to be drilled into the materials.
How long a screw is. This measurement can vary depending on the head style of the screw.(See Helpful Resource #2)
Threads Per Inch (TPI)
Amount of thread peaks measured from peak to peak in an inch length of the fastener. Used to measure threading for imperial fasteners.
Thread Pitch
Distance between two thread peaks. Used to measure threading for metric fasteners.
Drive Style
Indicates the type of driver to be used for optimal results. For example: A Phillips head indicates a Phillips driver should be used.
Head Type
The top portion of the screw and contains the drive style. Screws have different head types based on the application they are being used for. Some make the screw flush with the installation surface while others leave the screw head exposed for a quality finish.
Refers to an unthreaded portion under the head of several types of screws. This can vary based on the length, diameter and type of the screw. The shank aids in compression and clamping force of the installaton materials, as well as, reducing the chance of breaking due to over-heating.(See Helpful Resource #1)
The portion of the fastener that has a helical shape rolled into it. Causes the screw to pull into the material and hold in place.
The very tip of a screw. Depending on the type of screw, a variety of points can be available. For example: Drill Point, TEK Points.

*Note: A drive style usually has several different sizes as well. Usually indicated by a number for example: Phillips #2

Measuring Screws

Screws are measured in diameter by length. An example of an imperial screw measurement would be a #7 x 1″ deck screw. The #7 is the pre-defined diameter of the screw and the 1″ is the length of the screw. Imperial diameters range from 0 to 24 and their lengths are measured in inches. When measuring a metric screw, you use the same format of diameter by length, but both are measured using millimeters. For example, an M5 x 10M means a diameter of 5mm and a length of 10mm. It is not uncommon when dealing with screws to see the thread pitch added in as well.

Imperial Metric
1/4″-20 x 1″ M5 x .8 x 10M

As seen above, the thread pitch is added into the middle. For imperial the 20 stands for 20 threads per inch whereas with the metric the .8 stands for .8 threads per millimeter. It is common practice to leave out the thread pitch on screws during the listing process as the pitch matters less because it does not have to match a nut. When measuring the length of screws, the head of the screw will matter. For most screw types you measure from the bottom of the head to the tip. An exception to this rule is a flat head. Always measure flat head screws from the top of the head to the point.

Screw Installation

Installing screws is a simple process. Using either a screwdriver or drill/driver with the appropriate driver bit, place even pressure on the drive recess and being spinning it. The way you will need to spin depends on the orientation of the screw threads although most are right-hand threaded (meaning spin to the right). Some screws have self-drilling points which are essentially a notched tip that allows a screw to drill into the material as it is being installed. Wood screws should always have a hole pre-drilled before installing them. Pre-drilling into wood will prevent cracks and splintering from occurring especially when working with hardwood. Self-tapping screws have sharp cutting threads that will cut deeply into the material during installation for a more secure hold.

Types of Screws

Screws are all engineered for different purposes. It is best practice to use a wood screw for wood for example because it was designed to have the optimal hold in wood applications.


Concrete Screws

Concrete Screws are easily distinguished by their blue coating which protects them in harsh conditions. They cut threads into concrete and are used to secure materials to concrete, brick or block.



Deck Screw

Deck Screws

Deck screws feature a type 17 notched point for removing chips of wood to make it easy to install in wood and composite deck materials.



Lag Screw

Lag Screws

Lag screws, commonly called lag bolts, are large wood screws with threading that extends all the way up the shaft.



Self Drilling Screws

Self-Drilling Screws

Self-drilling screws are screws with a self-drilling (TEK) point to pierce through 20 to 14-gauge metals. The higher the TEK number, the larger the drill point to pierce heavier gauge metals.



Sheet Metal Screws

Sheet Metal Screws

Sheet metal screws have sharp cutting threads that cut into sheet metal, plastic or wood. They have a fully threaded shank and sometimes have a notched point at the tip to aid in chip removal during thread cutting.



Wood Screws

Wood Screws

Wood screws are partially threaded with large cutting threads and a smooth shank. They are designed to slide through the top piece of wood and tightly pull all boards together. A Deck Screw is a variety of a wood screw.

Screw Drive Styles

There are many screw drive styles available depending on the type of screw being installed. The four most popular styles for screws are the following:

slotted drive


A straight line cut into the center of the head.

phillips drive


The most common drive style. Shaped like a cross.

square drive


A square shape, resists stripping out.



Torx drive, also known as star drive, is considered the least likely to strip during a proper installation and provides a more decorative drive finish.

There are many other head types including internal hex (Allen Driven) and other more specialty heads called security heads which include spanner, Torx with pin, Philips with pin, and many more.

Screw Heads

Screw heads serve different purposes, a flat head is used to countersink the screw so nothing remains exposed. While others have more decorative or functional properties. There are many common heads on screws and each usually serves a different purpose depending on the application. Listed below are the common head types found on screws and their functions.

bugle head

Bugle Head

A Bugle Head is similar to a flat head with a rounded section that will pull down drywall instead of cutting through it as it is fastened.

button head

Button Head

A button head is a rounded head, used primarily in socket cap screws. This head sits above the installation surface.

Button Flange

Button Flange

The button flange head is similar to the regular button head style but with a flange or integrated washer to increase surface area during an installation.

Fillister Head

Fillister Head

A head with a higher profile than other head styles.

External Hex Head

External Hex Head

This head is designed to be driven by a wrench and allows for high torque installations. The head of all lag screws.

Hex Washer Head

Hex Washer Head

A head that is designed to be driven by a wrench with an integrated washer or flange to increase the installation surface area. A common head for driving concrete screws due to its stronger installation points.

No Head

No Head

Exclusive to the socket set screw, lacks a head and has an internal drive in the body of the screw itself.

Flat Head

Flat Head

A flat head is designed to be drilled into a material until it sits flush with the installation surface.

Oval Head

Oval Head

Similar underside to that of a flat head screw but with a decorative rounded top. Commonly used as a finish screw in visible applications.

Pan Head

Pan Head

A screw with a rounded head (less so than a button or round head) and a flat bottom designed to sit directly on the installation surface.

Pancake Head

Pancake Head

A flat topped head with a wide head to sit close to flush but also have a large surface area on the installation material for grip.

Round Head

Round Head

A completely rounded head that was very popular but has become less so with the variety of heads now available.

Truss Head

Truss Head

With a wider installation surface area, this style is used where a lower profile is desired but a strong grip is needed.

Modified Truss Head

Modified Truss Head

Similar to the truss head but with an integrated washer which increases the surface area of the head even more.

Screw Threading

Screws have both coarse and fine threading options available. Both have a place when it comes to choosing screws. Coarse thread screws tend to have a larger pitch and size relative to the diameter. This thicker threading provides more retention and gripping power (resistance to pull-out). Fine thread screws have thinner more frequent threading which prevents these screws from vibrating loose accidentally. Fine thread screws are also considered to be significantly more delicate than coarse threaded screws.

Downside Of Screws

Screws are an excellent fastener to use for a wide variety of projects but have a couple of downsides.

  • Shear Strength – Screws have a relatively weak shear strength. If the application will be under shear forces, bolts or nails should be used instead.
  • Hold – Sometimes screws loosen and it can be caused by a variety of factors.
    1. Temperature Change which causes the material to expand and contract resulting in a less firm hold.
    2. Vibrations cause loosening in most fasteners over-time by rotating them out of their installation.
    3. Varying Weight fluctuations in load can cause screws to loosen as well by warping the material and screws themselves.
Helpful Resources
  1. Why Do Wood Screws Have A Shank?
  2. Fastener Measuring
  3. Fastener Varieties
  4. Fastener Drives, Heads and Threads

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How To Use An Auger Drill Bit

Drill Bits for WoodAuger Drill Bits

Auger drill bits are bits used to drill holes into wood. They are commonly used for boring holes into bulkheads and general timber applications. These drill bits come with a spiral drill bit head which, when drilling, is designed to pull the bit into the wood so you do not have to apply excessive pressure.

Lets Begin

Today we wanted to show you how an auger drill bit works. Most of these drill bits have a long stem on the end which attaches to the drill chuck. Then the

Begin Drillingtip of the bit can start “biting” into the wood and pulling the rest of the bit into it. Before beginning your drilling application, you may want to put a piece of painters tape over the hole you plan on drilling into. Auger bits may chip the wood they are drilling into resulting in an unclean look. Painters tape should deter this from happening.

Auger bits are also designed to be run very slowly and with minimal pressure. Remember, the tip of an auger bit will help to pull it into the wood so you don’t need to apply a massive amount of pressure. We recommend about 600 rpm when drilling.

What About Nails?

Auger bits are incredibly durable andDrilling through a deck screw have the strength and cutting power to drill through nails and screws. It is important to maintain a slow speed and let the bit do the work. Once through the nail just continue on and finish the hole you are drilling.

What are the advantages of using an auger bit?

  • Auger bits have the capability
  • Drilling deep.
  • Drilling neat uniform holes.
  • Prevent the clogging of boreholes
  • Auger bits allow for efficient clearing of wood shavings as a result of their wide and deep flighting.
    The completed hole

How To Use Wood Ship Auger Drill Bits

Using Wood Ship Auger Bits
How To User Auger Drill Bits Transcript

Scroll Down To Continue Reading

Bob: Welcome back to Albany County Fasteners – Fasteners 101. I’m Bob and today I’m going to demonstrate the use of an auger bit.

So I have here an auger bit. This is a 5/8″ auger bit. 8 inches long overall. The stem part here which is pretty typical on all ship auger bits (which is what they’re really called here – Ship auger bits).

This part here is about 3 inches and its typical through all sizes. The lengths these come in anywhere from 8 inches to 18 inches long. I think there’s a 12 inch, maybe there’s a 10 inch, but you know you’ll have to decide based upon what you’re doing.

Also, auger bits they have this little screw in the front here. It is to pull the auger bit forward as it drills. These auger bits also will break or cut nails as they go through.

These are very cool bits. Used on ships and many other different applications but I’m going to demonstrate this now on drilling this auger bit into my sample piece of wood here. This is only for demonstration. Also, you should know that you should not run and auger bits more than 600 rpm.

So, slow as you go. It just draws itself right in.

Now it did splinter in the front here a little bit. If you don’t want it to splinter like this you take a piece of tape, blue tape or painters tape, and you put that on the front before you drill and that’ll prevent this from splintering the front face of the wood.

So I want to demonstrate to you an auger bit going through-they say that they can go right through nails, which I know they can, but I have a deck screw here that’s right in the top going down and I want to demonstrate to you an auger bit cutting its way through a deck screw. This would be a stainless steel screw. Let’s give it a shot and see what happens.

I’m up against it right now. Right through. Coming through the other side. Look at that.

So there was some resistance there but it cut through the deck screw. I think that was a number 10 deck screw, number 10 wire. So that would be equal to a like a Ten penny nail or a duplex nail. No problem. Right through with that baby.

Thanks for watching.

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Why Do Wood Screws Have A Shank?

Why Do Wood Screws Have A Shank?

It’s time to start your next wood working project. Grab your tools from the garage, find a box of screws, and wood, cut and ready to be installed. You start driving your first screw and boom, it stops and snaps. You try again, same thing. Then you realize you are using sheet metal screws, not wood screws! One quick trip to AlbanyCountyFasteners.com offers a quick fastener fix and your package shows up in the mail few days later filled with deck screws and wood screws. Hastily, you grab the package in excitement and run out to your shop to continue your work. Open the box and wait, what’s that? Why do these screws have an un-threaded portion? That can’t be right…Why would you want that?

It is one of the most misunderstood designs in the industry. Why is there a shank (shoulder) on a wood screw? If a wood screw was threaded all the way up, it would overheat and snap. Before we can explain why this happens, let’s start with the basics.

What Is A Wood Screw?

A wood screw is a screw made up of a head, shank and threaded body. Since the entire screw is not threaded, it is common to call these screws partially threaded (PT).

Head The head of a screw is the portion that contains the drive and is considered the top of the screw. Most wood screws are Flat heads. Other common heads: Oval, Round, Hex, Modified Truss, Trim Flat.
Shank The shank is the smooth portion of a wood screw which has no threads and begins immediately beneath the head.
Threaded Portion The threads start just below the shank and extend all the way to the tip of the screw.

Now that we know what the different sections of a screw are, we can begin to understand what exactly happens during screw installation.

The unthreaded shank of a screw has dual purposes.

The First Purpose

First, when a screw that is fully threaded is driven into wood, this screw can connect two pieces of material together but it will not pull the two pieces against each other; once the head reaches the material, the screw will stop spinning.

Having an unthreaded shank at the top allows the tip of a wood screw to pull the screw into the wood just as a regular screw would. The difference is that the shoulder portion of the screw will actually slide through the first layer of wood and pull it against the head. This causes compression from the head to the threads. When installing two pieces of wood together then the first will be pulled tightly against the second one. The threads can continue to pull forward as long as enough torque is applied. Coincidentally, this can also make the removal process much easier than trying to remove a fully threaded screw.

*Note: This process of continuing to tighten after a wood screw reaches the head and snug wood together is known as over-tightening and may cause damage as the head is pulled to forcefully into the wood.

The Second Purpose

Second, when a fully threaded screw is being screwed into wood the screw threads cause friction. This friction results in the screw heating up. This causes two flaws in the material. As the metal heats up it will begin to expand. Once it expands inside of a hole that was drilled for a specific sized screw, the screw will seize in the hole. At the same time, the materials overall strength has now also been compromised due to the heat. Overheating  leads to a screw breaking and snapping.

These two factors will highlight any flaws the screw may have and exploit them. This typically results in bending or snapping of the screw. So, how can a shank help? The shank allows for heat dispersion in a screw. As the threads begin creating heat, it moves up into the shank which will take longer to heat up and will not generate nearly the same amount of friction when it goes through the wood.

This unthreaded shoulder will minimize the amount of heat a screw generates upon install thus keeping it from expanding in size and compromising the materials strength.


To conclude, the shank of a wood screw is used to tightly compress two pieces of wood against each other and minimize the heating up of the screw caused by friction. This results in a strong firm hold between two wooden materials with little effort, and just as importantly, no broken screws.

Other information

Looking for more information about screws? Check out our Screws blog post to learn about many different types of screws.

We also recommend using lubrication when installing wood screws into very hard wood. A DIY option that is available is simply adding soap to the fastener. Soap acts as a natural lubricant but it should be noted that many soaps have glycerin in them which can actually attract moisture. This can result in fasteners deteriorating faster than expected.

A full blown solution is to use MRO Anti-Seize Solution. Not only will this lubricate your nails before installation but it can also add a protective coating to deter from corrosion!

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Star Drive Deck Screws have Arrived!

Stainless Steel Star Drive Deck Screws

Also Known as Torx, 6lobe, and Hexalobular Drive

stainless steel deck screws

Star Drive Deck Screws are here by popular demand! Star Drive Deck Screws are functionally the same as our standard Square Drive Deck screws, however they feature an unconventional drive style that offers many installation benefits including higher torque possibilities and more resistance to cam out than a conventional style like Phillips or slotted.
The “Star” drive style for screws (like many things in the industry!), goes by many names including Torx, 6lobe and Hexalobular and is characterized by having a fastener recess with six points of contact which allow for these benefits.

Star Drive Deck Screw

Stainless Steel Deck Screws in all drive styles feature a notched Type 17 point to help cut into the wood or composite boards being installed, as well as sharp cutting threads for stronger retention. Stainless Steel Deck Screws are used primarily in outdoor applications due to the corrosion / rust resistant properties of the metal, making them a good choice for long-lasting applications.

For more information on Deck Screws in both Star Drive and Square Drive and to browse our selection visit our Decking Fasteners section today!

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