Nails vs Screws – Should I Install My Fence with Nails or Screws?

Joe EverestFAQ

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Nails or Screws? There are two schools of thought when it comes to installing fences – Nails or Screws. Nails in the past has meant issues with age or pressure under weather conditions leading to failures. While screws hold fast they are also subject to human error as you will never drive a screw in identically every time, this can lead to in even or inconsistent results. Today we discuss what we prefer and what to look out for.

Which is better – nails or screws?
The “nails or screws” question is really a question of preference. There are pros and cons to each. Nails are faster than screws to install, meaning less labor for you or your builder (which may translate into lower installation cost). However, nails are more likely than screws to grow loose over time. Screws, on the other hand, secure the fence better than nails. They also ensure easier rework should you need to replace a damaged picket. You can use both nails and screws on a wood fence – some builders attach the pickets to the backer rails with nails, then attach the backer rails/panels to the posts using screws.

Fastener length – Whether you choose to use screws or nails, the length is crucial to the success of your fence. To attach pre-assembled panels or backer rails to posts, we recommend 18d to 20d nails or 3-1/2 in. to 4 in. long screws. To attach individual pickets to the backer rails, we recommend 8d to 10d nails or 1-1/4 in. to 1-3/4 in. long screws.

In summary, to purchase the right fastener for your wood fence project:

  • Choose a fastener material that is compatible to the type of wood you’re building with
  • Decide whether you want to build with nails or screws
  • Find the correct fastener length for your application

There are many fastener options out there, but the decision can be easy with a solid understanding of the wood you’re working with and a knowledge of how you want to build your fence.