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Hidden Fasteners and Screws for Composite Decking

February 01, 2023

When you are ready to build a new outdoor composite decking, there are many issues to consider. How you choose the size and shape of your outdoor deck, as well as the colors and finishes, is an exciting and very important part of the project. Choosing between deck screws and hidden fasteners may seem boring and unimportant by comparison. But your choice affects not only the look of your deck but also its build quality. That’s why you should make a good choice.

One of the problems many people encounter when building an outdoor deck is choosing which fasteners to use. The screws, the nails, or the fasteners you can’t see? While they all do pretty much the same thing, you can’t build a deck with any one of them instead of the other. Different types of decks require different ways and materials to hold them in place. For example, when installing a wood deck, many people choose screws because they are strong and easy to install. On the other hand, people who install composite decking often choose concealed fasteners because they give the deck a smooth look and last a long time.

Nails versus concealed fasteners and screws

First, let’s take a look at why many deck-building professionals prefer concealed screws and fasteners.


Nails can loosen over time and pose a safety risk, but screws are excellent at holding boards in place because their threads keep the attachment firmly in place. This keeps the deck flat and smooth, so you don’t have to spend hours hammering nails. For the same reason, the hidden fasteners give composite decking a better hold while remaining completely out of sight. There are no ugly screws or nails to trip over, which is great for anyone who’s ever had a nail poked in their toe.

capped composite decking

Corrosion resistant

In addition to being very strong, the screws won’t rust. Stainless steel deck screws are even coated with zinc epoxy to make them more resistant to corrosion. This will ensure that the deck will last a long time and can handle heavy foot traffic and weather. Concealed deck fasteners for composite decking boards not only won’t rust. Because they do not make holes in the surface of the decking boards, they also prevent water from entering and causing damage.

Easy to install

In the past, many deck builders used nails because they thought it would be faster to drive them than to screw them. In fact, screws are easier to use and take about the same amount of time. In the same way, hidden fasteners make building a deck easy and fast. This is accomplished by placing the serrated edge of the concealed fastener down into the groove of the board. The edge of the clip then bites into the board to keep it in place. Also, when you are ready to place the next board, simply slide it into the other side of the hidden fastener. This makes the process go much faster and creates perfectly spaced gaps.

Hidden Fasteners and Screws

Deck screws and hidden fasteners are both popular ways to build decks, and each has its own special purpose. You can make your choice based on your preference. But concealed fasteners are a smart choice for composite decking and can give your outdoor deck the beautiful look you love.

Advantages of Deck Screws

Deck screws have long been the primary choice for securing wood decks and composite wood decking. These ancient screws are an inexpensive option and most of the time they come in different colors so that you can match the head to the deck surface. When it comes to repairing the decking, it is usually easy to remove the screws and replace any damaged boards, which tends to happen more often in the life of natural wood decking. Also, in areas where the weather changes dramatically from season to season, it’s best to use facing screws, which usually prevent things from shifting sideways due to expansion and contraction.

Disadvantages of deck screws

When using deck screws, each screw is drilled through the top of the deck, so the screw head shows on the surface of the board. Since two face screws are needed to connect each joist to each plank during installation, many homeowners don’t like the look. Also, using deck screws takes a lot of time because each screw has to be drilled into the boards and the installer must pay close attention to the gaps between the boards. If the gaps are not the same, it can make the deck look bad throughout. Also, some composite decking may need to be pre-drilled before the screws are installed. This can make the decking project more time-consuming and costly.

Advantages of hidden fasteners

Concealed fasteners are a good choice for securing composite deck boards in many ways. Let’s look at three main reasons why concealed fasteners are a good alternative to traditional fastener systems.

Shelter from the weather

Hidden deck fasteners are better than traditional face screw systems because they are less likely to be damaged by things like rain, ice, or vermin. Even though deck screws can withstand the weather, they can still wear out over time. This can cause water and ice to leak between the deck boards, weakening the structure. Hidden fasteners keep the boards secure and dry by securing them to the sides of the boards. The hidden fasteners completely cover the joists underneath, which helps prevent water from pooling and entering the wood. This gives the entire structure more protection from the weather and makes it last longer.

Easy to install

With COOWIN composite decking’s fastener system, you only need to use one screw instead of two. Also, using the plug system to hide the screw heads is more time-consuming because you have to put in a plastic plug that matches the color of each screw. During the face fastening process, good contractors also use chalk lines to make sure each screw head is perfectly straight for a good look. If the fasteners are hidden, you don’t need to do this.

Beautiful appearance

Hidden fasteners are not only better from a practical standpoint, but they also look better too. Even with a good paint job, it’s hard to make exposed deck screws look the same as the deck. The best composite wood decking has a wood grain that looks like real wood, and screws can render it useless. Using hidden fasteners where they can’t be seen gives them a smooth, elegant look. Also, choosing hidden fasteners that completely cover the joists will make the deck look better because the wood is no longer visible.


Deck screws and hidden fasteners are both good choices, and sometimes one is better than the other. At the end of the day, it’s really a split decision based on your own preferences. However, when it comes to composite decking, hidden fasteners are always a great way to keep your deck looking good for years to come.

author avatar
Galen Content Writer
Galen is a content creator and decorator with five years of experience designing home decor. In his daily life, Galen is constantly on the lookout for the latest, great examples of house design and further optimizes his solutions. Additionally, he writes articles related to outdoor design, interior design, and architectural decorating materials to help brands build more engaging relationships with their audiences.
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