Sometimes we get questions about whether we use screws or nails for our fences. Long story short: we use both! If you want the quick explanation, we use screws for the parts of the fence that bear more weight, and ringshank nails for the parts that are visible from the outside. If you want the deep dive, read on!  

 

First things first: our wood fences have two main parts: the frame and the pickets. The pickets have to be attached to the frame, which creates the structure of the fence. That means that the frame has to be able to bear the weight of all the pickets, as well as hold up to wear and tear. 

 

Screws are made to bear weight and stand up to tensile forces, like heavy wind, better than nails, so we use them to create the frame and attach the 2x4s to the posts. That way, the rails won’t pull off the posts the way they would if we used nails. 

 

To attach the pickets to the frame, we use ringshank nails. When people say they don’t use nails, they’re usually talking about smoothshank nails, which don’t grip the wood, so pickets can be torn off more easily. The ringshank nails we use have barbed ends that look almost like screws, so they have more holding power.

Screws vs. Nails

There are a few more reasons we use nails to attach pickets. Screws will split the cedar we use unless the holes are pre-drilled, which takes much longer and drives up labor costs. And the coating on most screws reacts with the cedar and causes unsightly black streaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line is that we need the most durability in the frame, so we use screws. The frame isn’t visible because it’s covered by the pickets, so the black streaks don’t show up. We use stainless steel ringshank nails to avoid black streaks on the parts of the fence that are visible from the exterior - and we use 4-8 on each picket, so they’re held onto the frame securely. 


Using both screws and nails in different functions gives our fences the durability they need to last and ensures that our beautiful cedar stays beautiful.