This post has been sponsored by Simpson Strong-Tie, but the thoughts within our my own.

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Insufficiently Built Decks

Each year at the Remodeling Show, Simpson Strong-Tie presents their case for the importance of proper connections in deck construction. It has become, well, a thing … at the Show, Simpson Strong-Tie’s now famous “Deck Collapse.” A few weeks back and the first time for me, I caught it. With it, my intro for this post … changed.

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Simpson Strong-Tie Is Known For Holding Things Together

A little further back I discussed some of the Kleenexes of, well, the building industry. And of course, you could probably throw out a few. Kleenex you know, a name brand – often supplants the more generic term “tissue.” That is – the brand name becomes simply synonymous with the item it describes.

Actually I posted that article on July 28th, 2011. It was titled “If You Can’t Duct It, . . . :: Foil Tape the Better Duct Tape” and it contained a pic of my then 8-year-old daughter, lending a hand as I hooked up a new dryer.

To quote it, I wrote: “… Few building products totally dominate a (product) niche like Nashua Foil Tape. Simpson Strong-Tie, Magna Latch, ZipWall. …” To name just a few.

Simpson_Strong_Tie_logoStrangely, I learned a little later that Simpson Strong-Tie was a fan.  :~)

I mean – it’s just one of those things. I’ve never really, and haven’t had to, put too much thought into it. When I look down at a buy list, and it reads, say, “Joist Hangers” = Simpson Strong-Tie®. Similarly, “Post Bases” = Simpson Strong-Tie® … Ties, Plates, Angles, you guessed it = Simpson Strong-Tie®. Hardware, Hot-Dipped Corrosion-Resistant Galvanized, Z-Max for added insurance and I can find a huge array of options right there on the end cap (actually on two) at my local Home Depot.

For this assignment, though, I won’t be talking about, well … any of that. Ha!

Simpson Strong-Tie Makes Some Kick Ass Fasteners Too

I will set instead to look solely at the Simpson Strong-Tie® fastener options. And I don’t know about you, but it was kinda news to me. I mean – beyond joist hanger (teco) nails and galvanized lags, I actually was surprised that the line was, well, way more robust and especially in the area of structural screws.

Simpson Strong-Tie Structural Screws at the 2014 Remodeling Show

This is instantly apparent on using the company’s new Fastener Finder web app. As a related overview video depicts, this app is super for exploring options. Search by the length or gauge of fastener. Search by Fastener Type (from Collated to Hand-Drive Screw) and/or by Application Type. Fasteners may also be searched (and very appropriately for screws) either by Head, Thread, Shank or Point Type. While 20 or so Materials/Coatings are available, the Stainless Steel options in this drop down quickly caught my eye. I spy SS gradings for 302, 304, 305, 316, & 410. But wait! What does that mean?

Stainless? Not All Stainless is the Same

Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “Stainless, yeah, stains less.”

Now I know that when it comes to stainless, NOT all stainless is created equal. If curious streaking on past exteriors project wasn’t enough proof, we could talk at the faint rust spots that lie there un-removable just below my frig’s water dispenser.  I mean – those who have lived with stainless steel appliances and/or stainless steel fixtures know that stainless steel isn’t always so stainless. But wait. What?!

So how exactly can stainless differ from, well, stainless? I can’t quite tell you what type of stainless was used to wrap my frig, but Wikipedia makes light of noteworthy differences in Steel Grades. Take these differences in just the few types that Simpson Strong-Tie® offers and quote that linked page:

300 Series—austenitic chromium-nickel alloys

  • Type 302—same corrosion resistance as 304, with slightly higher strength due to additional carbon.
  • Type 304—the most common grade; the classic 18/8 (18% chromium, 8% nickel) stainless steel. Outside of the US it is commonly known as “A2 stainless steel”, in accordance with ISO 3506 (not to be confused with A2 tool steel).[6]
  • (Type 305not listed but seems to have slightly less chromium and slightly more nickel than 304.)
  • Type 316—the second most common grade (after 304); for food and surgical stainless steel uses; alloy addition of molybdenum prevents specific forms of corrosion. It is also known as marine grade stainless steel due to its increased resistance to chloride corrosion compared to type 304. 316 is often used for building nuclear reprocessing plants.
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400 Series—ferritic and martensitic chromium alloys

  • Type 410—martensitic (high-strength iron/chromium). Wear-resistant, but less corrosion-resistant.

* Deciphering Stainless Grade Ratings

Both 100 and 200 series seem to align with general purpose applications such as with furniture. The 400 Series seems to be used widely in cutlery and in kitchen applications. 500 and 600 series also exist, but are most widely found in heat-related applications. And while I know these are very over-simplified statements, I can conclude that the bulk of construction related Stainless Steel seems to be found in the 300 Series.

These same pages continue on to reveal:

SAE 304 stainless steel … is used for a variety of home and industry uses, such as screws, machinery parts, fabrics and other uses.

Marine grade stainless, or SAE 316 stainless steel … while Type 316 is not completely rust-proof, the alloy is more corrosion-resistant than other common stainless steels. Surgical steel is made from subtypes of 316 stainless steel.

One the more popular stainless screws that Simpson Strong-Tie® offers is the Deck-DriveTM DWP WOOD SS Screw in Type 316. Don’t be misled by the name, this is in fact more of a multi-purpose screw designed for decking but also working well docks, siding, trim, etc. Consistent with above, Type 316 simply outperforms Type 305 (again very similar to Type 304), which is actually known to show signs of rust.

Strong Drive DWP

The Deck-DriveTM DWP WOOD SS Screw in Type 316 is recommended instead by the company for coastal applications.  Sharp-points and a “box thread” are also said to minimize the effort required in installing them. To learn more about the full line of Deck-DriveTM screws, here.

Simpson Strong-Tie Beyond Stainless

Okay that was my opportunity to take a good look at stainless, but Simpson Strong-Tie® has many more offerings beyond stainless fasteners and a few I’ll highlight below.

The Strong-Drive® SDWS TIMBER Screw is ideal for the ledger attachment – the essential, arguably most vital component in overall deck safety. Recommended as alternative to through-bolting and/or traditional lag screws, the Strong-Drive® SDWS TIMBER Screw  relative ease of installation is almost immediately apparent. While available too in a stainless option with a hex head (as SDWH TIMBER-HEX SS), it’s more common to find this screw with what the company calls a “double-barrier coating.”

Deck Ledger Attachment from Simpson Strong-Tie

The SDWS TIMBER Screw appears prominently in the Simpson Strong-Tie® Deck Connection and Fastening Guide (F-DECKCODE13). Check page 8 for the industry’s currently accepted ledger fastening pattern. In general, I’ll say that Simpson Strong-Tie® has always supported their products with exceptional literature. To explore more, perhaps begin in Simpson’s Deck Center. Oh! And more on the Strong-Drive® structural line, here.

Deck Connection and Fastening Guide

Simpson Strong-Tie Beyond Decking

Before you begin to think that Simpson Strong-Tie® expertise is limited decking only, and sure, Simpson Strong-Tie® has been at the forefront, even driving best practices as well as code for many years, they have some smart offerings in interior structural screws too.

In the way of subfloors, for example, you can find the Strong-Drive® WSNTL SUBFLOOR Screw. It is said to be especially efficient when used with their Quik-Drive® PRO250 Subfloor Auto-Feed Screw Driving System. This tool is said to offer visual confirmation that you’ve hit a joint and I know I could have used that reassurance many times through the years. Ha!

QuikDrive in action
Mike Sloggatt using QuikDrive in his presentation @ the 2014 Remodeling Show

Last in this rundown, I have the Strong-Drive®SDWC TRUSS Screw. I mean how can you beat an orange screw?! (#GoBirds :~) ). As a fully threaded fastener, it provides both more options on installation, but also excellent load path while being mindful of the trades that the follow rough framing applications.

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For the full of array of Simpson Strong-Tie® fasteners, available for a myriad of additional applications, again check them out here >>  Simpson Strong-Tie® Fasteners.

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To purchase any of the Simpson‘s amazing hardware in their Amazon shop.

For much more from use on screws, please see our Guide to Common Screws. Thanks. ~jb

Some photos courtesy of Simpson Strong-Tie®.