Forgive me I'm a newb.

We have become the proud owners of a new deck. One of the features that we thought was great was that the boards are installed fairly snugly and diagonally nailed into joists like hardwood flooring. However, I'm used to seeing decking installed with screws nailed into joists from the top.

Is the method my contractor chose normal? Will boards be popping up on me in the years ahead?

Edit I'll add that there is some spacing between boards, just not as much as I am used to seeing. Maybe on the order of a 1/8 inch spacing.

  • What type of decking do you have? I'm guessing a composite.
    – aphoria
    Jul 30, 2010 at 0:57
  • azek pvc decking.
    – Doug T.
    Jul 30, 2010 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


Edit 2: Turns out that this product is PVC plastic, and uses a HIDfast hidden fastening system Fastener System, Azek decking product installation videos. The product is also tongue and groove. Sounds like the contractor did a good job.

I would not build a deck that way for a couple of reasons.

First, decks should have some space between the boards for drainage. Otherwise water pools, accelerates rotting of the wood and makes the deck slippery.

Second is expansion. Given that outdoor boards are alternately soaked and baked, there is significant shrinking and expanding of the boards (another reason for gaps). That will be most pronounced in the width of the board versus the thickness. As the board expands it pulls out the nail. If the nail is pounded into the edge it will pull out more since there is more expansion in that direction compared to a vertical nail.

Screws don't pull out at all, and that's their principle advantage and why I always screw down deckboards. Nails are preferred by many, but I haven't seen them nailed into the edge, and I think it's for good reason.

Edit: if it's a composite as others have suggested, everything I just wrote is a waste of pixels. Unread it.

  • Thanks. I should add that there is a small amount of space between boards. Its not composite, but pure azek pvc. Not sure how that factors in.
    – Doug T.
    Jul 30, 2010 at 14:57
  • 1
    You say plastic, I say fantastic, let's call the answer off. I checked the Azek website (azek.com/azek-deck/installation.html, it's the HIDfast system) and what you describe is the correct way to install that product. Jul 30, 2010 at 15:09
  • @DougT: By the way, the reason it's relevant is that the PVC decking will not expand and contract with moisture like wood does, so those concerns are irrelevant. Jul 30, 2010 at 15:13
  • wow yes! That's exactly what it is! I wish I could accept your comment as the answer.
    – Doug T.
    Jul 30, 2010 at 16:02
  • 2
    thanks again. You might want to pop Edit 2 to the top of the answer to clarify that it is the answer.
    – Doug T.
    Jul 30, 2010 at 16:43

I found that when it comes to decks, you're always going to have boards popping up if you're using nails. The fact is that screws form a much much better bond and are much harder to come loose than nails. In fact, I just helped my brother in law redo his deck with screws instead of nails because of boards sticking up.

Some contractors use nails because it is faster and cheaper than doing the same with screws, and it'll be a few years before the owner has to redo anything. When it comes time to repair, use screws.


I'm going to assume that your decking isn't standard 5/4 (1" thick) treated pine, because it would be impossible to nail it down that way -- hardwood flooring planks are nailed along one edge, but the other edge is held down by a tongue and groove joint between it and the previous course of flooring planks. Simply nailing each course of standard (non tongue & groove) deck boards as you describe would leave the "trailing" edge of each board completely unsupported.

So I'm guessing that what you have is a composite deck or one made of an exotic wood, where there's either a tongue & groove between each board, or each board is grooved to accept an hidden fastener. Either way your deck should have a longer, more trouble-free life than a standard deck that's face-nailed.

  • thanks. yes it is azek pvc decking. There appears to be some kind of metal spacer or something between the boards. Perhaps this is some kind of fastener?
    – Doug T.
    Jul 30, 2010 at 14:56
  • Is it something like this deckfastener.com/products_tc3.asp? That's one type of hidden fastener. If you've got something like this you've got nothing to worry about, and should have a nice-looking deck with no visible nail or screw heads. Jul 30, 2010 at 15:00

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