Hidden Deck Fasteners - Continued
Clever in its versatile simplicity, the Eb-Ty makes it
possible to prepare the decking boards ahead of installation.
Your main weapon is a biscuit joiner or slot-cutting router,
used to cut a slot in both edges of the deck board at the
specific joist spacing. The Eb-Ty connector is a UV-resistant
polypropylene biscuit with a 3/32-inch-thick raised
auto-spacing tab at its center and an elongated screw-hole in
the middle. Because of its thin, low profile, you can use the
Eb-Ty with 1x decking material. After inserting the connector
in the slot, a #7 stainless-steel finishing screw, driven
through the biscuit and board edge at a 45-degree angle, holds
the decking in place. You may have to predrill hard lumber
species before installing the screws. Each successive board,
prepared with mating slots, is tapped into place over the
exposed half of the biscuit connector, and the sequence is
Designed to take advantage of the
biscuit-joiner, the versatile Eb-Ty can be used with
softwood, hardwood, and composite lumber of any
thickness. Adhesive is recommended to prevent
Unlike some of the other connectors mentioned thus far, the
Eb-Ty puts the deck board in direct contact with the joist.
This manufacturer recommends the additional use of an
exterior-grade flooring adhesive in conjunction with their
fastener to offset the possibility of squeaks and rattles,
apparently a legitimate concern with edge fastening
Butt joints. A single Eb-Ty
connector can be installed across a butt joint by cutting the
slot in place on the center of the joint. Common biscuits may
also be used to align butt joints of slightly differing
thickness before installing the Eb-Ty.
I like this system, because you're cutting, rather than
punching, the edge slots, ensuring that the lumber won't
surprise you later by splitting around the fastener. It also
isn't limited for use with softer wood species and thicker
profiles. But, it requires the patient focus of a cabinetmaker
to make sure that the slots are all properly aligned and cut.
And because you have to prepare both edges, you're handling
each piece of lumber a lot.
The Eb-Ty is relatively expensive, at 44¢ each, including
the stainless screws. You'll need 2.75 fasteners per square
foot on 31/2-inch-wide decking over 16-inch on-center
Another bottom fastener, the steel Shadoe Track employs a
continuous-angle track that is first nailed along the top edge
of each joist. The decking is then screwed to it from below.
Shadoe Track's profile is relatively flat, with a small,
90-degree bend that registers against the joist's edge. The
track fastens to the joist using galvanized spiral or
annular-ring nails. Deck boards are installed one at a time and
secured with screws by kneeling on the deck board and reaching
underneath to drive the screws. If you've got one, a
right-angle screwgun will provide an ergonomic advantage
It's said that once you acclimate to an upside-down position,
the throbbing blood pressure in your head equalizes, but I
believe you'll find out for yourself after peering under the
decking at your 3000th screw. If you're lucky, you'll be able
to work from below, with the aid of a helper or a clamp to hold
the board down.
The shallow profile of the Shadoe
Track registers against the edge of the joist.
Annular-ring nails fasten the track to the top edge of
each joist (above). A right-angle screw gun helps ease
the pain of upside-down screwing (left). If you're
lucky, you'll be able to work from below.
The manufacturer calls for 9 nails and 52 screws per 8-foot
length of track. Shadoe Track is available in 20-gauge
galvanized-, beige powder-coat, or stainless-steel, in 4- and
8-foot lengths. Four-foot lengths cost $4 to $5 each; 8-foot
track lengths range in price between $7 and $8 each;
drill-point screws and annular-ring nails are available at
Stealth Decking Fasteners
Deck One's promotional literature claims that the Stealth
Decking Fastener installs as fast as traditional nailing. In
reality, traditional nailing installs as fast as traditional
nailing — clips are somewhat slower. The
high-tensile-steel clip is galvanized after it's punched and
After face-nailing the starter board, you hammer the clip's
two-way, dual prongs into the leading edge with the aid of a
proprietary punch. The Stealth's base is then nailed to the
face of the joist, after which you lay the next board in place.
You drive the board onto the projecting prongs with a hammer or
maul, keeping one foot on the board to prevent it from riding
You have to use a
special punch to drive the Stealth Fastener (above).
The Stealth nails to the face of the joist, protecting
its top edge from damage (top, right). The clip's neck
establishes a regular 3/16-inch space between boards.
The clip's base has been slightly redesigned for
manufacturing efficiency (top, left).
To promote drying, this clip has a pair of tabs that slip
under the deck board and elevate it from the top of the joist.
Because the base of the clip nails to the face of the joist
rather than the top edge, the chance of water penetrating the
top of the joist around the nail's shank is eliminated. A face
connection also means that you can use a clip on both sides of
the same joist at butt joints, eliminating the need to sister
Successive boards are driven onto the projecting prongs, using
anything from your usual hammer to a ten-pound sledge,
depending on the type and density of the deck-lumber you're
laying. The prongs on the fastener are short, measuring no more
than 7/16 inch. The manufacturer claims that withdrawal due to
lumber shrinkage is unheard of. However, I'd still want to make
sure that my deck lumber was as dry, and therefore as small as
it would ever be in service. Best bet: If using
pressure-treated lumber, make sure it's kiln-dried after
The Stealth is self-gapping, providing a 3/16-inch-wide space
between boards. I think this wider gap is a better bet than the
3/32-inch gap imposed by other clips, in the event that wetted
deck lumber needs a little room to expand. A self-gapping
system, though, can also spell trouble if your decking isn't
all of a uniform width, something pressure-treated lumber is
Stealth Decking Fasteners cost 24¢ to 26¢ each, and
you’ll need an average of two per square foot of 3
1/2-inch-wide decking on 16-inch joist spacing. Add a few extra
clips for butt-joints.