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You Are Here: Frequently Asked Questions


  1. My deck is only 8 years old and needs to be replaced. WHY DO DECKS FAIL SO FAST?
  2. Your instructions say that if you have a hard to access spot, you should countersink, screw, and plug from the top. How do you plug?
  3. The brackets are shinny and sometimes create a glare from the gap. What can I do?
  4. How do you attach the last board on a low level deck with no access underneath?
  5. What if you are in a very tight spot and you cannot reach under to get a screw in?
  6. When do you recommend the stainless steel over the galvanized steel bracket?
  7. How would you replace a board, if necessary, after the deck is completed.
  8. With Ipe and other tropical hardwoods, do I need to use stainless screws?
  9. With Ipe and other tropical hardwoods, do I need to pre-drill?
  10. Can I use Deckmaster with a light gauge galvanized steel stud and steel track framework?
  11. I have seen decks which have black stains around the screws. Are there any features with Deckmaster which would help?
  12. My deck is going to be constructed around the second story of my house. Any tips?
  13. I am in a coastal region where the local builders us 316 stainless fasteners for roofs, decks, just about everything. Deckmaster is 302 for the fasteners and 410 for the brackets. Isn't that an issue?
  14. History of Deckmaster® Hidden Bracket Systems
  15. What are some of Deckmaster®’s Key-Features?
  16. What types of boards do not work with Deckmaster® Brackets?
  17. What do I need to know about:
  18. I'm worried about conserving my deck
  19. What's included in the Deckmaster® Warranty?
  20. Who is your Competition?
  21. How do I determine exact coverage?
  22. Where else can I apply Deckmaster® brackets?
  23. Test Data for Uniform Uplift Value
  24. What are your suggestions for replacing an old deck?
  25. Building a diagonal deck pattern

1.
My deck is only 8 years old and needs to be replaced. WHY DO DECKS FAIL SO FAST?

With conventional deck construction, nails are driven through the heart of the deck boards into wood support joists.

As wood shrinks, nails loosen and pop up, which is not only hazardous, but allows water to penetrate through the deck boards and into the support joists causing wood rot. No matter what kind of preservative you use, water seeps through nail holes into the wood, creating wood rot.

DECKMASTER® Hidden Deck Bracket System protects the deck surface by eliminating the primary cause of deck failure - moisture penetration through exposed nail holes on the top of the deck surface. Even screwing does not eliminate the need to tighten the screws once the wood shrinks, and does not eliminate deck rot.

Other hidden fastening systems still penetrate the top of the deck board allowing for water seepage and deck rot. They also tend to work loose with the expansion and contraction of the wood, causing squeaks and loose boards. DECKMASTER® holds the boards tight, and is the best in eliminating any surface penetration.

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2.
Your instructions say that if you have a hard to access spot, you should countersink, screw, and plug from the top. How do you plug?

It's easy. You just get a plug cutter bit (3/8" will do) and a 3/8" countersink bit. Pre-drill your hole with a 1/4" deep countersink. Cut plugs out of a scrap piece of wood and glue them into the countersunk holes. Sand off the excess.

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3.
The brackets are shinny and sometimes create a glare from the gap. What can I do?

Before you install the brackets place the brackets on a piece of cardboard, and using a flat black Rustolium spray paint spray the tops of the brackets. The purpose of this is to eliminate the glare not add life to the bracket so you don't need any special preparation just be sure they are clean.

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4.
How do you attach the last board on a low level deck with no access underneath?

If vertical fascia is to be used, the easiest way is to toe a screw in from the side and then hide it with your fascia.

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5.
What if you are in a very tight spot and you cannot reach under to get a screw in?

The best solution is to countersink, screw, and plug from the top surface. On most decks it will not be necessary. The deck on our color brochure, which was quite complicated in design, required only six screws and plugs.

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6.
When do you recommend the stainless steel over the galvanized steel bracket?

The Stainless steel DECKMASTER® Hidden Deck Bracket System should be used in any location where corrosion is known to be a problem. Coastal areas that experience salt spray and fog, or chlorinated water around pools and spas, and boat docks are a natural application for the stainless steel DECKMASTER® Hidden Deck Bracket System.

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7.
How would you replace a board, if necessary, after the deck is completed.

Where you have access, unscrew the board and screw in a new one. If there is no access, remove the board and screw and plug the new one from the top. Taking a little extra time in selecting boards at the front end of a project can eliminate future problems.

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8.
With Ipe and other tropical hardwoods, do I need to use stainless screws?

Often, lumber dealers recommend stainless fasteners in a general sense referring to surface fastening which may cause staining. With Deckmaster®, there are no surface fasteners and therefore no opportunity to stain the top of the deck board. Unless the deck is in a high corrosive environment or near a spa or a pool with chlorinated water, Powder Coated Deckmaster® is the practical solution.

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9.
With Ipe and other tropical hardwoods, do I need to pre-drill?

You will generally not have to pre-drill IPE using the special Deckmaster® screws with the type 17 auger points. However, you will need to pre-drill IPE at splices or near (2-3”) any butt ends of the boards, or if the IPE happens to be very dry. It is best to test to be sure. Moisture content may vary widely from the time the IPE is harvested to the time it is installed, so there is no definitive answer. Additionally, grain patterns may affect the possibility of splitting but the frequency is very rare.

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10.
Can I use Deckmaster with a light gauge galvanized steel stud and steel track framework?

A very good question. To answer your specific question, Yes, other framing is used successfully with Deckmaster.

Home owners, builders and architects are interested in additional longevity of the decks as the manufacturers of the composite materials explode into the marketplace.

Galvanized metal framing is an alternative that works well with Deckmaster® Hidden Fastener System. Although different bracket to joist screws are required and available (8 or 10 x 3/4" Wafer head screws), the choices of metal framework are many.

The commercial construction trades have long used metal studs and track as floor joists for years. The specific gages, on center spacing, and joist configuration need only be decided. Usually a local drywall supplier has information on light gage metal framing.

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11.
I have seen decks which have black stains around the screws. Are there any features with Deckmaster which would help?

Staining and other corrosive events are the result of many variables; some are physical, environmental, and economical. There is no sure remedy to prevent corrosion, but there are ways to resist or delay it. In the case of Deckmaster, there are no surface fasteners which would stain. Our fasteners are hidden from view and to some extent, protected for the environmental causes of corrosion. Although corrosion will occur with any fastening system over time, Deckmaster brackets and screws are "out of sight, out of mind".

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12.
My deck is going to be constructed around the second story of my house. Any tips?

Most of our customers/contractors will paint the brackets a color which complements the bottom of the deck. Painting requires a primer and then an exterior grade metal paint or coating. If you desire to use the areas under the deck for more recreation or a storage area, you may want to install a corrugated “under deck” panel to capture the rain runoff. Be sure to slope the panel away from the house.

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13.
I am in a coastal region where the local builders us 316 stainless fasteners for roofs, decks, just about everything. Deckmaster is 302 for the fasteners and 410 for the brackets. Isn't that an issue?

Decidedly not an issue because of our 25 year warranty. The Deckmaster brackets and screws were designed as a system to provide your deck with the strongest holding power possible. The properties of the bracket, its gauge, length, flange widths and angle, gives it more rigidity than the softer 316. The same is true with the Deckmaster #10 wire 302 stainless screws. They were chosen for their ultimate load and shear strength values for this specific application. 316 stainless may have higher corrosion resistance, but not necessarily the best overall values for every application.

If you research the warranty of a top fastened deck with 316 stainless screws, you will probably find there is no warranty at all.

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14.
History of Deckmaster® Hidden Bracket Systems

For several years my company was the largest deck specialty builder in San Diego County. As business grew, quality constantly improved and we always looked for ways to improve our product. Later, I found out that this desire to improve quality is a rarity among deck builders.

One day, while giving a bid to a customer, he showed me an article in Popular Science about "DecKlips", the original hidden clips. The article made the clips sound really good so I ordered a box and used them on a display deck we built for a home show. It was a disaster! We spent the whole show explaining why the deck squeaked and the boards felt so loose. Of course we had to assure people that we would not build their deck that way.

Even after the negative results, I was still intrigued with the concept and figured that maybe we had just installed the product incorrectly. I called Popular Science and they gave me the name of the author. Luckily, she lived in Leucadia, which is in Northern San Diego County. She invited me up to see the “DecKlip” deck. When I arrived I was amazed to find that the clips she had written so glowingly about were in many cases not holding the boards in place at all. The deck boards had shrunk so much that they had pulled off of the clips and were just loosely connected.

I thought there must be a way to hold the deck boards from below without sacrificing strength. The appearance benefits of such a system were evident, but my experience as a deck builder had given me a greater motive. More than half of my projects were replacements for old decks. How old? Decks in San Diego were failing completely at about ten to twelve years old. These were usually redwood decks with treated understructure. The primary cause of failure was due to water collecting in the nail or screw holes in the top of the deck boards. This moist area was the perfect environment for bacteria to start eating away at the wood. We would find dime sized holes in the deck boards, as well as a "V" shaped valley in the joists. Water had trickled through the nail hole into the joist and caused it to rot as well. Even in cases where the joist was treated wood, the water was accumulating in the untreated core. (Most pressure treating only reaches the outer 1/4" or 3/8" of a board and once that barrier is penetrated the wood has little or no rot resistance.)

I felt that the short life of decks was a big problem. No other phase of construction has such premature obsolescence. Imagine your hardwood floor or your drywall having to be replaced every dozen years. If there was a way to solve the problem of water penetration without weakening the structure, I knew it would be a huge improvement. In my spare time, I started drawing up 3D prototypes on my computer. Among my design specifications was the requirement that there be no surface penetration of the deck boards or the joists. Additionally, I felt it was vital that the screws that hold the deck boards in place be at an angle so that straight uplift from warping or negative wind load would not pull the boards off of the screw threads. For a board to lift, the screw would have to break. Of course this required a particularly heavy, strong screw that would not break under those conditions. We teamed up with Grabber® Construction Products to create just such a heavy-duty screw.

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15.
What are some of Deckmaster®’s Key-Features?
  1. No surface penetration of deck board or joist: Several fastener systems are hidden from the top but still have vertical nails or screws in the top of the joists. As long as water runs downhill it will find those penetrations and accumulate in the heart of the joist. While I was mostly concerned with rot I subsequently found that freezing is also a big problem. When water that has accumulated in small cavities freezes it expands with tremendous force. Builders in the northern Midwest observed deck boards loosening up overnight after freezes. This cannot happen with Deckmaster®.
  2. Strongest possible attachment to the joist: Each bracket is held to the joist by 10 screws driven into the side of the joist. This takes a little time to install, but the strength of 10 screws is vastly greater than the single surface nail used by one of the copycat systems. Remember that every time someone walks on a deck, the joists flex up and down. That is why nail heads pop up on conventional decks. The same action can cause vertical nails to work loose on other hidden fastening systems.
  3. Screw guides maintain the correct angle of the deck screws: The hole for the deck board screw in the bracket acts as a guide for the screw. The angle is vital to maintaining holding power because vertical screws can slide out if there is enough uplift.
  4. Spring action keeps boards tight: Decks are constantly expanding and contracting due to moisture and temperature changes. When a deck screw is driven up into a deck board through a Deckmaster® Bracket, it dimples the steel creating a constant spring tension. This keeps the boards tight under all conditions. This is a major reason that we have never had a properly installed deck board fail with a Deckmaster® deck.
  5. All screw construction: Everybody knows that screws outperform nails in holding power. That's why we teamed up with Grabber® and developed just the right screws for both the joists and the deck boards. The Deckmaster® board screws are 10 wire with very sharp and deep threads, and a type 17 point. By design, it cannot back out.
  6. Correct length of bracket: The strongest installation has the brackets alternating from one side of the joist to the other. This installation allows each finished joist to have even stresses on both sides of the joist. It is more expensive to stamp short pieces than to roll form long ones but the end result when using a shorter bracket is much stronger. Also, when installing a high deck, the first few boards are attached while working from a ladder. After that, the easiest installation is by working from the top. The builder has to be able to reach all the holes in the bracket with his knees on the last deck board. I mention this because some of the copycats who don't have my deck building experience have made longer bracket sections to save on manufacturing costs. While we were tempted to do this originally, we could see that it would lead to a compromise in strength as well as a very awkward installation.
  7. Deckmaster® Brackets actually strengthen the joists: A deck is the tightest and strongest on the day it is finished and after that it spends its whole life working itself loose. Again, every time someone walks on a deck the joists flex up and down. Deckmaster® Hidden Brackets are extremely rigid in the vertical direction (Try bending one). It's like reinforcing the joists with small steel girders. That is why our decks actually feel more solid than with any other system. No other product can make this claim.
  8. Any spacing of deck boards can be used: Spacing varies with each builder, type of wood and locale of the deck. Deckmaster® Hidden Brackets support any spacing pattern a builder chooses.
  9. Angled decking: Deckmaster® Hidden Brackets work great with any angle or pattern the builder chooses. The best way to build a new diagonal deck is to first install the joists at the desired angles.
  10. Air Space: There is no wood to wood contact between the deck board and joist. The unique Deckmaster brackets create an air space between the deck board and joist reducing the potential for water damage.
  11. Boards are independently attached: One problem that I observed with the various clip systems is that they often rely on the fastening strength from one deck board.
  12. Helps hold the next deck board: The problem with loose decks is when one board starts to loosen the next one does too in a domino effect. With Deckmaster®, two angled screws hold each board in place and they can never come loose.

My design challenge was to solve every problem that I found in the deck to joist connection. Our experience over the last ten years has proven that we were successful. While some of these features are found in some other systems, none but Deckmaster® has them all.

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16.
What types of boards do not work with Deckmaster® Brackets?

We have listed the types of deck boards that Deckmaster® works with, but it won't work if the board thickness is less that 3/4".

If the board is a tongue and groove system, which are specified with their own fastening system such as Eon®, or the on center span exceeds the board suppliers' recommendations. That is, if the IPE supplier recommends 24" OC for nominal 1" IPE, and the span is 36", too much deflection occurs with an average load of 100 PSF.

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17.
What do I need to know about:

Pre-drilling
Composites: Pre-drilling in the field is not necessary because composites have no grain. When you are very near the butt end of a board (1-2"), you may need to pre-drill. Hardwoods, such as IPE, also do not need to be pre-drilled except near butt ends. This is a huge time saver!

The occasional splitting you are experiencing may occur when the screw is indexed too close to the board edge. Move to the next screw hole.

Also, when the board is especially dry or cold, the brittleness is a wildcard. If either is the case, pre-drilling will be the best insurance against the possibility of splitting the wood. There are instances when flaws in the wood cause the wood to split at the slightest intrusion of a drill bit or screw. Unavoidable, random splitting could happen just by dropping a board.

Whatever the case, take your time. The end result is very worthy of the effort.

Spacing
Edge spacing is a popular question and it depends on the type of species or composite board being used. These "rule of thumb" tips may help.

Pressure treated is usually moisture ridden and installed with no spacing (butt up), and will shrink from 1/16" to ¼" on its own.

Composites shrink very little, laterally, compared to some natural woods. Depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, boards should be spaced as close as practically possible.

Hardwoods also shrink very little, but still use the suppliers' recommendations. Hidden Fastener Decks look better with the least amount of spacing. The desired aesthetic effect is to have it look like a hardwood floor.

Splicing
End-to-end spacing for butt end splicing depends on the length of the board, and generally the longer the board the more end gap spacing is required. Bevel cuts are considered the best technique, and they hide the tops of the brackets and joists, which looks more professional. It is good practice to add a 3rd screw to all your splices and butt end attachments.

Plugging
Before I invented the Deckmaster® Hidden Bracket System I built several decks with screws and plugs. Even after I started using Deckmaster® for deck boards, I would screw and plug railings and fascia so that the whole job was free of visible fasteners.

Use a 3/8” plug cutter and get lots of plugs from a cut off board end. Then drill and countersink your screw holes. Use a good exterior wood glue or marine epoxy to hold the plugs in. The toughest part is getting the plugs smooth with the surface. You don't want to sand because the sanded areas won't blend in with the rest of the deck (unless you want to end up sanding the whole deck). I recommend that you use a very sharp chisel to take off any excess plug.

Tools
The Grabber® Deckmaster screws are premium quality screws, which are designed to fully seat in one stroke. The drill motors may be cordless or corded but the higher the speed and torque, the better and easier the screws will install into the different materials. Screw guns, which have clutches to engage and disengage the screw recesses are best for speed. Because of the awkward angle of the Deckmaster® application, an offset drill may be more comfortable.

Remember, depending on the size of your deck, you may be installing thousands of screws, and the 20 year old 3/8" drill you bought at a garage sale may not be in your best interest. For installing the 8 x 1" bracket screws, almost any drill driver will work because the pressure treated lumber is an easy application. The board screw may require the offset angle drill for comfort and its power to penetrate a harder wood, especially IPE or other Brazilian mahogany.

Knee pads are very necessary because you need to do most of the installation from the top of the deck, and make very sure the board is lying securely and flat on the bracket and joist before you start the screw.

Bit tips are included with the screw kits, but having more #2 Square Recess bits is helpful. These are available at any local hardware store or by ordering them online at our Web sites.

The brackets are easily cut with tin snips, or a circular saw with an abrasive blade.

Bowed or warped Boards / Deckmaster BoWrench
Not all boards arrive in tip top condition from the lumber yard, and some are unusable and should be returned for an acceptable replacement. If you must use a warped or bowed board, some care should be give when installing with Deckmaster®.

The BoWrench with the Deckmaster® attachment is very useful for non-straight boards or if you are working alone. The BoWrench will hold the board in place while you start the first screws. Moving to the next joist, the BoWrench will straighten the board while you install the next set of screws. If the board is radically warped, try adding a 3rd screw to help hold the board while the tension subsides. Deckmaster® is usually powerful enough to hold the boards while they conform to straight.

Glare from Brackets
The Stainless Deckmaster® Brackets are very bright when shipped to you. Depending on the surroundings -- shade, positions of the sun, board spacing -- the reflection of the sunlight may be an issue. The glare is easily prevented by rolling or spraying Krylon or Rustoleum paint on the tops of the brackets before or after they are installed on the joists.

Expansion and contraction / Pivot and Spring effect
One of the many structural beauties of the Deckmaster® system is that it allows the deck boards and joists to expand and contract without loosening the Deckmaster® screws or brackets. After the screws are tightly installed at the 60 degree angle, the metal bracket angle is compressed by the head of the screw. Because of the gage of steel, the angles of the screws and bracket, and the hole tolerances, the pivot and spring action allow the boards to expand and contract without letting the screws bend, break, or back out. The Deckmaster® screws and brackets are indeed a system designed to let the deck boards expand and contract without sacrificing the holding power. The 10 wire diameter screws have the strength to pull the boards down while the brackets' pre-indexed holes have enough tolerances to let the board move without letting go. The bracket's angle has a spring effect, pulling the board down with constant tension on the bottom flange and against the screw head. The screw can then "pivot" with the movement of the board.

Replacing Boards
Because Deckmaster® is fastened with screws, it is called a "forgiving system." When a board is burnt or otherwise damaged, go under the deck, unscrew the board and replace it. If the deck is inaccessible from below, use a circular saw or a reciprocal saw to plunge cut the damaged board, and then unscrew it. Install the replacement board by fastening with the pre-drill, countersink, and plugging technique.

Squeaking Deck- tarpaper- adhesives

Some questions have indicated the desire to use a tarpaper wrap on top of the joist before installing the Deckmaster® Brackets to prevent the possibility if squeaking between the wooden joist and the metal bracket. It's your deck to build as you wish, but we think this is an unnecessary step. Each 22 ½" bracket gets 10 8 x 1" screws which effectively "welds" the bracket to the joists. If the board screws are installed tightly, dimpling the bracket, there is no possibility of movement or the resulting squeaking. Others question why we don't recommend adding adhesives when installing the brackets and boards. Deckmaster® simply doesn't need any more structural adhesion. In fact, adding adhesives cuts down on the ventilation and drying out of the boards after a rain. Eventually, adhesives will deteriorate, become brittle and begin to create voids between the board and brackets which may create squeaking at some point in time.

Cupping
"If a board is going to cup-it will."

Boards that have propensity to cup usually do so for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with the fastening systems. No fastening system can prevent, delay or otherwise stop a board from cupping. The main reason boards cup is from moisture, either within the board or the immediate surroundings. Ventilation of the deck is a key factor. If the deck is low to the ground and the ground does not drain fast enough, the evaporating moisture rises and is trapped underneath the deck.

Then the bottom of the boards, especially hardwoods, dries much more slowly than the top of the board which has free air flow and sunlight.

The best prevention is to allow ventilation or, if possible, to spread a healthy layer of coarse gravel or other material which allows the rain water to soak through and then dry.

Cupping is unattractive but a popular remedy is to belt sand the cupped edges.

Skipping a joist – OC spacing
Scenario: A large deck with expensive hardwood or composite boards with 12" on center and it is time to install Deckmaster®. Can I just put the brackets on every other joist, which saves time and money?

Answer: Skipping a joist will save money today, but will cost more later. When the deck boards expand and contract, the boards will bow up above the unfastened joist. Applying pressure (walking on the deck) would place intolerable stress on the adjoining fasteners for which they are not designed. All building codes require 2 fasteners per deck board per joist.

Screws - Adding additional screws
When I build a project at my house, I tend to over-achieve and do a little extra, especially when it is labor related or at a nominal cost.

Adding a 3rd screw to a 4" or 6" board at the butt ends or at splices is good insurance. Plugging the ledger board and end joist every 12" instead of 16 or 24" is the same. It takes time, very little money and makes sense. The bracket to joist screws are already spaced about 2" apart, and there would be no practical point to install a screw in every available hole, 22 in all.

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18.
I'm worried about conserving my deck

I share your concerns. All of the importers of tropical hardwoods insist that their products are sustainable logged but I don't know how that could be verified. Even in this country, logging is very destructive to forest environments so it is hard to imagine that things would be any better in Brazil or Indonesia.

The good news is that building decks with Deckmaster® doubles or triples the life span of decks by removing the primary cause of deck failure (water penetrating the deck boards and joists). When I was building decks about half of my business was replacing redwood decks that had failed after only ten years. The oldest deck I replaced was about 12 years old. By contrast Deckmaster® decks don't even begin to show deterioration after ten years and we really don't know what will cause them to ultimately need to be replaced.

I have always felt that by making decks last longer, we are reducing future demand for lumber. To me, that makes Deckmaster® a green product that reduces long term environmental damage.

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19.
What's included in the Deckmaster® Warranty?

Deckmaster® warrants the system to firmly hold the boards in place for 50 years for Powder Coated Deckmaster and the life of the deck for Stainless Steel Deckmaster decks.

We don't address corrosion. All metals corrode in varying degrees over time, even stainless steel. Corrosion does not constitute a failure to hold, nor does discoloration, flaking, or visible red rust. Our design goal was to manufacture a product which would be of the highest economical quality with the existing technology.

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20.
Who is your Competition?

Deckmaster® Hidden Brackets versus Shadoe Track: Head to Head Comparison

I designed the Deckmaster® Hidden Bracket system to be able to build a deck with no surface fasteners and no loss of strength or holding power. Unfortunately every good idea has its share of imitators and low quality knock offs. Luckily Deckmaster® has a very good patent and some of our features cannot be copied without infringement.

Some of the unique features of Deckmaster® Brackets are:

1.) Deckmaster®'s attachment to the joists is from the side with two horizontal screws per deck board.
This is the strongest attachment of any hidden fastener on the market. (Shadoe Track attaches with vertical screws from the top of the joist.)

Any penetration of the top of the joist allows water to penetrate into the joist. As long as water flows downhill, this water penetration will be the primary cause of deck failure. Minute amounts of water find the smallest holes in the joist surface. In cold areas this water freezes and expands with great force causing each hole to grow. The next time water is present the same thing happens. This freeze-thaw cycle is responsible for many decks virtually coming apart after only one winter.

In warmer climates, water penetration causes rot even in treated lumber. This sounds like a contradiction until you cut a treated joist in half and see that the chemical treatment rarely penetrates more than a quarter inch into the wood. When you punch a hole into the top of the joist you allow water to bypass the treated surface and penetrate into the untreated center. Most treated lumber is either pine or fir. Neither wood is even slightly rot resistant once you penetrate the treated surface.

Another reason for the side attachment is strength. Did you ever wonder why nails pop up on old decks? They seem to defy gravity. People hammer them down and they just pop up again. Here is the reason: When people walk on decks, the joists flex up and down. That constant up and down flexing of the joist causes surface fasteners to eventually pop up. This same constant motion can cause the vertical screw in Shadoe Track to work loose.

Finally, compare the joist attachment of a Deckmaster® Bracket to an equivalent length of Shadoe Track. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that 10 horizontal screws are stronger than two or three vertical screws.

It is amusing to see the dramatic illustration (which they copied from us) in Shadoe Track's literature showing the vertical screw allowing water to penetrate, causing joist damage. Then they drive their screw right into the top of the joist anyway. To quote from their web site "seepage may occur…"

Yes Shadoe Track, in this case I agree with you. As long as water flows downhill, seepage will occur.

With so many advantages to the Deckmaster®'s side attachment into the joists, why didn't Shadoe Track do the same thing? That would have infringed on our patent. They were forced to use a weaker attachment to avoid legal problems.

2.) Guide hole in the top of Deckmaster® Brackets assures correct angle of screws. Shadoe Track has no guide hole.
We originally experimented with designs that incorporated screws going straight up into the deck boards. However we found that a screw that is driven too vertically can pull out with the constant up and down flexing of the joists. The guide holes are designed to assure the correct angle and to lock the deck boards down into place. The only way for a board to pull up is if the screw breaks and the screws we supply won't break for this design application.

Why doesn't Shadoe Track use guide holes to prevent installers from driving screws at the wrong angles? You guessed it! That little guide hole is protected by our patent and could not be copied without legal challenges.

3.) The correct length of the bracket allows for frequently alternating brackets.
We originally thought that long brackets would be the best and experimented with 4' and 8' lengths. Unfortunately, we discovered that the project was much weaker when the screws were all on one side of the joist. That is why we recommend alternating the brackets from side to side. Imagine a completed joist with the brackets on both sides and the screws going up equally in both directions and you will understand why our system is the strongest on the market.

4.) Deckmaster® Brackets actually strengthen joists!!!
People always tell us that their Deckmaster® decks just feel stronger. That is not an accident. Try bending a Deckmaster® Bracket in the vertical direction. It's almost impossible. Joist flexing (technically the modulus of elasticity) is dramatically reduced on decks built with Deckmaster® Brackets. Building a deck with Deckmaster® Brackets is like adding a steel girder to your joist.

5.) Deckmaster® Brackets are the original hidden bracket system.
Shadoe Track is a low quality imitator.

I developed Deckmaster® Brackets for my own deck company and we built hundreds of decks with them before ever selling the Brackets to the public. Every feature of the design was tested and refined in actual application. This is a far different method of development than simply copying a product and changing a few things to avoid infringing on a patent. The people who make Shadoe Track don't know enough about decks to even know how to use their own product. The illustration on their web page shows their bracket on the rim joist at the end of the deck. What is that supposed to attach? This illustration shows that you don't need to know much to make a cheap copy.

I spent ten years as a deck specialist at a time when the phone book didn't even list decks as a separate category. One of my Deckmaster® decks was a winner in the National Redwood Deck contest. I invested years of my life and the mortgage on my home to create a product that would truly build a more beautiful and longer lasting deck. When Shadoe Track came out with their cheap imitation, they changed the bracket to avoid litigation but they copied all of our literature and illustrations almost verbatim. They saw we had a 25 year warranty so they offered a 30 year warranty in hopes that people would be fooled into thinking their product was better. Even if you don't buy Deckmaster® I hope that you will not support this type of “me too” organization.

Head to Head Comparison- Deckmaster vs. Tiger Claw

There are serious problems with this type of installation:

1.) The clips are held down by one 8 wire screw in the top of the joist. We know that water penetrates the screw hole causing splits and rot. It won't be long before these screws stop holding. Water penetration is the leading reason decks deteriorate, fail and are replaced.

If you are interested in a short term expensive fastener system, the Tiger Claw is for you.

2.) Diaphragm strength is eliminated because there is no positive attachment into the deck boards. High level decks and balconies can sway and fall down if they are not engineered with additional bracing.

3.) The Clips do not allow for the expansion or contraction due to shrinkage and normal movement of your deck from weather (thunder, wind loads from storms, shifting of loads, etc.). The first indication of the clip failing is creaking or squeaking. There is no real positive attachment pulling the board to the joist. This is called a passive attachment.

Eventually, it is called actively expensive.

4.) When one board works loose, and it will by design and natural forces, the next board will work loose in a domino effect. We consider this very unacceptable, but we are fussy about sloppy fasteners.

5.) Contraction due to shrinkage is a dynamic variable which leads to a deck clip system loosening, but expansion has a more serious effect with clips.

Since the clips are positioned between the gap spacing, there is really no space allowed for the boards to expand. Expansion of wood and wood composites is very powerful, however slight and slow. The boards compress against each other at the clip and buckle. That is why gap spacing is necessary and required by producers of the boards and is, in fact, a requirement of local building codes!

In a clip system, the boards "butt up" against the clips! It looks like there is a gap, but there really is NONE!

When expansion occurs, the boards have no place to go- and they buckle and/or cup. (But remember, it was easy to install and cheaper?!

After the boards buckle and cup, the boards are worthless. Repairing one of these decks is not economical.

Deckmaster Premium (there is a reason for that word) Hidden Deck Fastening System allows for the expansion and contraction of softwood, hardwood and composite wood decking by its simple design.

6.) Finally, an independent firm, Testing Engineers, Inc., evaluated our system's holding power with a standardized test (Tinius Olsen universal testing machine) resulting in Uniform Uplift Values. It demonstrates the strength of Deckmaster brackets and Grabber Deckmaster screws' holding power to values of 800 to over 1,000 lbs/ft ².

We have those tests available online at http://www.deckmaster.com/warranty.html Click on: Deckmaster Uplift Values.

To our knowledge, no other hidden fastener system has ever published or even done the tests.

Why would that be?

Expansion and contraction / Pivot and Spring effect
One of the many structural beauties of the Deckmaster system is that it allows the deck boards and joists to expand and contract without loosening the Deckmaster screws or brackets. After the screws are tightly installed at the 60 degree angle, the metal bracket angle is compressed by the head of the screw. Because of the gage of steel, the angles of the screws and bracket, and the hole tolerances, the pivot and spring action allow the boards to expand and contract without letting the screws bend, break, or back out. The Deckmaster screws and brackets are indeed a system designed to let the deck boards expand and contract without sacrificing the holding power. The 10 wire diameter screws have the strength to pull the boards down while the brackets' pre-indexed holes have enough tolerance to let the board move without letting go. The bracket's angle has a spring effect, pulling the board down with constant tension on the bottom flange and against the screw head. The screw can then "pivot" with the movement of the board

Clip Systems, in general
In general, clips between the boards do allow for the expansion and contraction of the deck boards, which is a constant. During the expansion cycle such as high afternoon heat, the boards’ edges expand against the clips. If the species of wood expands, the dynamic of buckling may occur, lifting the fastener and clip from the joists.

During the contraction cycle, the wood pulls away from the clips, and the deck boards become loosened. Symptoms are squeaking and in time, the water intrusion into the voids lead to wood rot.

Clips may be called a hidden fastener, but they are merely cosmetic and temporary in the real world. Structurally, they do not endure the long term.

Eon
This Eon decking is a pure plastic product. As such it is much more prone to expansion and contraction than composites which combine plastic with wood. This expansion is the reason that they need to use their own clip system that does not actually screw into the deck board. If the boards are not allowed to slide back and forth as they expand, they will buckle.

There are two problems with this type of installation:

1.) The clips are held down by a screw in the top of the joist. We know that water penetrates the screw hole causing splits and rot. It won't be long before these screws stop holding.

2.) Diaphragm strength is eliminated because there is no positive attachment into the deck boards. High level decks and balconies can sway and fall down if they are not engineered with additional bracing.

I personally would stay away from all plastic decking. I have heard of lots of problems and composites have proven to be much more reliable.

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21.
How do I determine exact coverage?

Measure the length of each joist.

Determine the total joist length in inches (mm) and divide the number by 22 (559).

Count joists where deck boards splice as two joists.

For random deck board splice pattern, include additional brackets to be cut into shorter pieces.

For diagonal patterns, add enough brackets to cover the ledger board and end joists.

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22.
Where else can I apply Deckmaster® brackets?

Sub-floors and partitions.

Note: Non-Warranty applications
Deckmaster® has been used to construct shear walls, sub floors, gazebos, trellis ways, furniture, rafts, and a variety of home projects. As long as general carpentry practices are followed, there are many other creative possibilities to use the Deckmaster® System.

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23.
Test Data for Uniform Uplift Value
Click here for a full report on our Uniform Uplift Value

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24.
What are your suggestions for replacing an old deck?

Replacing an old Deck I just wanted to weigh in on your questions as someone who built decks professionally for 15 years. My suggestion would be that you replace your 30 year old joists because they are already showing rot. If you use new treated joists and a good grade of wood or composite decking along with Deckmaster®, the deck should last as long as your house. If you attempt to save money by using these old joists, they will fail long before the rest of the structure.

I'm not crazy about the idea of turning the joists over because you reverse the crown and your floor will appear to sag.

There is really no good reason to use a joist cap like the one mentioned. If you use new joists with Deckmaster®, you won't have the water going down the screw holes into the joists and you also eliminate wood to wood contact because there is an air space between the deck board and joist. Therefore you will not have the damage to the new joists that you are seeing on your current structure. Joist sealers are redundant when you use Deckmaster®.

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25.
Building a diagonal deck pattern

The best way is to have your deck joists installed at diagonals, with doublewide joists in the locations where splicing or borders will be installed.

With standard 90 framing, diagonal or herringbone deck patterns built with Deckmaster are absolutely beautiful, but plan for some creative carpentry work. Estimate enough brackets to for the entire perimeter of the deck.

Instead of installing all the brackets in the staggered pattern for 90 degree installation, install the brackets as you lay your diagonal boards to achieve the uniform pull down feature of the angled screws. Just understanding the purpose of the screws installed at opposite directions will help you decide where each bracket goes and on which side of the joist.

Finally, when you have spicing at the butt joints, remember the screws will pull the board very slightly and it is best to clamp that board down tightly to reduce and movement. It may be necessary to “kerf cut” the splice to even the appearance of the splice.

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