How to Choose the Best Screw or Nail for Any Project

If you’re tackling even a small home project in your home, navigating the clasp aisle at a hardware store can be tricky. There are hundreds of different types of screws, nails, bolts and staples on offer, and it can be difficult to determine which one you need to complete the job. But choosing the right type is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to make your next trip to the hardware store more successful.

Consider the type of material

Part of the decision-making process when choosing a fastener has to do with the type of material you are working with. For example, attaching something to drywall requires fasteners designed for that type of wall panel. If you are working with wood, screws, nails or staples designed to secure wood are the right choice. For metal, there are screws and bolts for sheet metal, as well as “self-tapping screws” for quick fastening. These different types of fasteners are almost always grouped together in the fastener aisle, and then usually categorized by length, denomination, and thread count. Find a suitable place for your material (or ask for help finding it), and you can immediately eliminate a lot of potential confusion.

Choosing the correct screw head

Different screws have different types of drive heads. The most common are Phillips and flatheads, but there are also Allen or Torx head screws and Allen wrenches. Depending on the length of the screw you are trying to screw in and the material you are driving it into, a star-tipped or star-tipped tip is a great choice for beginners – the shape makes it more difficult to remove from the screw with the tip of a screwdriver. , and it is easier to insert a screwdriver into the screw head and fasten it securely while screwing, especially if you need to exert a lot of force. For softer materials such as drywall, a Phillips head will work. If you are working with sheet metal, the correct screws are almost always Phillips or flatheads, and since you usually drill the hole first, any type of disc tip that suits your other needs will work. One tip: if you plan on assembling and disassembling parts more than once, using the same head for all the screws involved will speed up the process significantly.

Choosing the right nail

You might think a nail is a nail, but there are many types of nails. The main considerations when choosing one of these are the density of the wood you hammer them into, the thickness of the board, and the overall goal of the project. For finer, denser materials such as hardwood stucco, finishing nails are the right choice; they are narrower and less likely to split your board. For larger and less dense applications, such as a two by four frame, a framing nail is ideal as it will be strong enough to hold your pieces together, but since the material is a little more flexible it still doesn’t fit your board. You can also purchase nails specifically designed for plaster of paris and wall panels that can be used to hang paintings or other decor. All types of nails are usually available with both a conventional hammer and a pneumatic nail gun.

Should you use staples?

Staples are usually used for thinner material, although larger sizes can be used to attach to any surface that will not be visible after your project is complete. They can form a slightly stronger bond than a finishing nail, so you can use them for smaller types of framing. They are more difficult to make flush and are harder to sand and grind, so they are not suitable for molding or thinner surfaces. There are several staple crown widths to choose from, so be sure to check which type of pneumatic stapler you have before purchasing staples.

Make sure you buy for the right environment

The biggest difference in the material of the clasp will be whether it is for indoor or outdoor use. Exterior labels often say “polymer coated” or “hot dipped” – this simply means that they were manufactured with some added protection from inclement weather. The interior hardware really doesn’t need additional coating because (hopefully) it won’t get wet on a regular basis. Be sure to check the clasp label to make sure you’re getting one that works for your project.


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