What Size Nails For Deck Framing?

What size nails for deck framing? You must have asked yourself that question at some point especially if you are looking to construct a deck by yourself.

Building a deck is a rewarding way to expand and upgrade your living space. It allows you to take control of the entire process, including all creative decisions and when to work. Once you’ve planned everything, you must determine what size nails for your deck framing to get a perfect finished project.

choosing the right nails can be an overwhelming even as you look to make the least mistakes. Again, long nails can result in a deck frame that splits, whereas short and slim nails won’t tolerate your deck’s weight. Therefore, you will want to settle for a durable fastening system that complements your project. so, what size nails for deck framing?

Deck framing is often 2×6 or 2×8 or larger and is usually pressure treated for exterior application. You don’t want the nails to nose around when attaching lumber, so the length is important. Therefore use 10d (3″) or 16d (3½”) hot-dipped (HD) or double-dipped (DD) galvanized or stainless steel common spiral nails for deck framing. 

Keep reading this article as I take you through nail types for deck construction and other basics. 

What Nails To Use For Decking Joists? 

Before setting up any decking type, you need a flat and solid surface to work on. That’s where your deck frame comes in handy. A decking joist is a board used as the structural base for a deck frame connected to the ledger through galvanized joist hangers.

Joists run straight to your house, whereas the decking on top lies parallel to the house. Every part of your deck has to be held by a joist. If not, it won’t be structurally sound and could buckle with time. 

So what nails to use for decking joists? Stainless steel decking nails are the most preferred option for decking joists. Such nails are corrosion resistant and have greater holding strength with minimum discoloration to woods.

However, stainless steel nails are expensive compared to their prevalent counterparts. Double hot-dipped galvanized nails are mostly preferred for your decking joists. These nail types are more economically priced while still offering unmatched corrosion resistance. 

I don’t recommend using aluminum deck nails for your joists since they are much softer, bend easily, and corrode once they contact copper preservatives used in pressure-treated wood.

How to Install Joist Hangers?

Thorough reinforcement is an essential part of deck installation. One component of this reinforcement is joist hangers. These gadgets are crucial parts of your under-deck areas as they blend structural strength in your outdoor living space and absorb the forces of the structures above it.

They connect the ledger board and joist lumber or beam to establish a floor surface for your outdoor structure. If installed correctly, joist hangers will keep your deck floor ceiling from shrinking with time and act as decorative detail units that display your DIY structural build. Again, improper installation can weaken your deck, damaging your entire structure.

But the question is, how do you install joist hangers? Here is a stepwise process for this project:

  • Step 1

Choose the right joist hanger for your project to keep your joist solidly connected. These units come in various sizes to match dimensional lumber sizes and I-joists.

You will even find joist hangers that can withstand unusual situations like supporting joists that run at an angle or building in a corrosive salt air environment. 

After gathering your supplies, gauge the edge locations of all your joists every 16″ on the opposite wall ledgers. Then mark the spots with a pencil.

Place a floor joist on your first mark, level with the top of your wall ledger so that decking can go on uniformly. Next, toenail a 16d nail through the top of the joist into the wall ledger.

  • Step 2

Secure the joist hanger tightly under the joist with the U-shape facing up and the flat margins against the ledger. Raise the hanger to ensure the joists sit squarely in your joist hanger without gaps under and alongside the joist.

  • Step 3

Pinch together both sides of your joist hanger so that the sides contact the joist evenly. Then hammer the tab on each flange into the ledger to secure the joist. For your hangers to work to their advertised load capacity, fill the hole flanges with nails recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Step 4

If you have double-shear joist hangers, toenail only four galvanized 10d nails at a 45-degree angle through the beam hanger, the floor joist, and the ledger.

  • Step 5

For standard joist hangers, attach the hanger to the joist using 1-½” galvanized joist hanger nails. Avoid using longer nails that might protrude the joist and split the other side of your hanger.

Tip: If you want to hammer inside tight joist spaces, hold your hammer sideways, and dab the nail with the hammer’s side. Or, use short tapping strokes. You will also want to avoid reusing joist hangers as this reduces the load capacity and holding power by one-third. 

It’s also wise not to use galvanized deck screws and drywall screws to install your joist hangers. Such screws lack the recommended shank size and toughness to secure joist loads.

Should I Use Nails Or Screws For Deck Framing?

Image of #8 deck screwSetting up a deck frame can prove difficult, especially if you doubt whether it’s a project for screws or nails. Whichever method you choose, having the correct fasteners ensures that your deck remains intact and in good shape for years.

Therefore, knowing where and when to use screws and nails is critical as you plan to construct your deck. This guide will examine the basics of each of these fasteners to determine which one suits your deck framing. Read on! 

Whereas nails have always been a requirement for part of deck construction, there was a time screws were too demanding to consider. Before the breakthrough of power drivers, nails could be hammered quickly while screws needed guide holes and hard-to-use manual drivers. Therefore, nails were a quicker means of establishing a deck.

But with the breakthrough of the power driver, that perception quickly changed. Power drivers could now drive screws into wood effortlessly, making them the better choice for decking. Besides speed, there is a cost to consider. Screws are more expensive than nails.

But as we all know, cost and speed come at the expense of quality. So instead of bothering about what will get your deck built quickly and cheaper, evaluate what will make the most substantial deck.

Ideally, you need both nails and screws to establish a deck that will withstand the outside elements for years. However, you need to know the right time to use screws and when it’s time for nails. 

Deck framing: Nails will take center stage when framing the deck in your project. Unless you opt for structural screws, you will want nails for the deck framing built above the deck’s beams and posts.

However, you won’t use nails alone. You will need nails and deck hardware, hangers, and brackets to secure the joists to the beams. 

The deck hardware acts as a guide to the nails needed for each bracket. If your bracket integrates six holes, you will want to secure it with six nails.

This step of deck construction is labor-intensive. The confined spaces and the dependence on hangers mean the only way to insert these nails is using your arms and a hammer. 

Regardless, resist the urge to disregard holes. The hangers are meant to use enough nails to bear the weight of your deck. Therefore, skipping holes can weaken your decks’ structural integrity.

It’s equally important that you acquire the correct length of nails to guarantee enough strength for this job. Also, remember that your deck will be enduring the elements. So ensure you use double-dipped galvanized nails to avoid rusting and future issues.

Note: Screws are also handy tools for deck construction as they integrate threads that prevent them from backing out of the wood with time.

The driving process linked with screws binds the two materials resulting in a stronger connection. However, screws are more brittle than nails, so they are not preferred for deck framing. 

Instead, you can use them for deck boards and railings because they have more tensile strength. Tensile strength illustrates the ability of a material to withstand breaking under stress or pressure. This makes screws commonplace for deck boards under tension or too much weight.

How Do You Attach Deck Joists To Beams? 

Deck joists run from one beam to another and usually are spaced 16″ apart, center to center. Considering joists support the floor’s weight, they must be attached securely at either end to a beam or ledger board. Joist should also have no warps, bows, or twists to provide a solid deck foundation for years. 

Before attaching your deck joists to beams, check the weather. You need to work on a dry day, or the ground will be too wet, muddy, and unconducive to work on.

Your wood must also dry entirely before beginning this project. It also pays to have a friend support you throughout the installation process, especially if you are a beginner. 

Check out these steps: 

  • Step 1

Take your time to cut your joist material to size adhering to the spacing requirements and deck dimensions. Ensure all your boards have equal lengths to enhance quick installation, and don’t forget to seal all cut ends of wood with wood treatment or joist tape. 

Now take a pencil or white chalk and mark the ledger board where the joists will be every 16 inches from center to center. If you have a tape measure, ensure you position its tip against the ledger’s outside to get precise measurements.

  • Step 2

Next, it’s time to mount the joint hangers. The hangers keep your joists stable and secure after installing the decking, making attaching the joist boards easy. Use white chalk or a pencil to mark the top of the first joist hanger.

Repeat this with the last joist hanger, then pull a straight line from the first and last hanger spots with a chalk line reel. Check whether or not the line is level before nailing through the hanger’s flange holes into the beams according to your marks.

  • Step 3

At the opposite beam, make similar marks as the first beam or ledger board, and ensure the joist hangers align precisely opposite each other. Measure the distance between the beams and cut a joist to that length.

It’s good to have a friend assist you in raising the joist and place it into the joist hangers on both ends. Confirm that the joist is level before proceeding.

  • Step 4

Lastly, take a carpenter’s square and position it with one edge along the beam and the other edge along your joist to confirm that the joist is perpendicular to the beam.

Adjust the joist hanger as needed if you notice the angle is not square. Then hammer 10d galvanized nails into your joist through the holes in the joist hanger and repeat this for all joists.

How Far Apart Should Joists Be? 

When installing a wood decking, you need to consider the spacing between each joist to enhance long-lasting performance. So don’t be tempted to install decking on broadly spaced joists to cut costs. Joists are made from 2 by 10, 2 by 8, or 2 by 12-inch lumber.

Joist spacing must never surpass 16 inches and is measured from the center of one board to the next  ( except MAX deck boards which allow up to 24 inches on center). You can use 12 inches or less for a more rigid feel.

Remember that joist spacing is determined by several factors: the hardness of the wood, decking design, and foot traffic. For instance, if your deck installation is for residential use, the overall standards are 16 inches between the center of the adjoining joist boards and 12 inches for all commercial installations.

Note: deck installation can be an easy job for experienced builders. But for beginners, get a professional installer to ensure your deck and all joists are structurally sound, spaced correctly, and consistent in size.

How to Calculate the Framing Size For a Deck?

Image of deck framing. So, Can I Re-Use My Old Deck Framing?Deciding the framing size for your deck is an easy job after knowing the size of your completed decking. You will first need to know the finished width of your decking. This should be listed on the builder’s plans. Identify the width of the ledger plate and the joist’s length.

Identify the distance the boarding will lie over the frame’s edges. This is usually an inch but can be a different measurement. If you are unsure, confer with the builder’s plans.

Minus twice the overhang from the decking’s finished width. This result is the external width of your decking frame. For instance, if the finished decking width measures 14 feet and the preferred board overhang is 1″ on both sides, the frame width must be 13 feet 10 inches. ( 14 feet minus 1 inch equals 13 feet 10 inches). Repeat this on the front edge from the finished length of your decking and determine the framing size.

How Many Joists Do I Need For a 20 Foot Deck? 

When considering your deck’s anatomy, joists form part of the deck’s framing system. They rest horizontally above each beam to offer a sturdy and level surface to spread your decking materials across.

It’s important to determine how many joists you need to support your decking, and this depends on your deck’s size and certified building permit plans.

So how many joists do I need for a 20-foot deck? A 20-foot deck requires two beams. One at 10 ft and another at 20 ft to support a deck with 2×8 joists placed 16″ apart.

Ideally, the amount of joists needed for your 20-foot deck depends on the deck’s type and size. Remember to leave an extra 15% of decking for waste and another 15% if you want to spread your decking horizontally.

How Far Can a 2×10 Joist Span Without Support?

How far you can span a 2 × 10 joist span without support is determined by the anticipated load on the joists, how far apart the joists are, and the species and the wood’s grade. The loading integrates the structure’s weight and additional fixed weights referred to as ” dead load “. The live load incorporates people, furniture, appliances, etc.

The standard joist spacings for 2 × 10 joists are 12″, 16″, and 24″. Joists that are closely packed can bear more weight, allowing them to span a longer distance than joists spaced far apart. For instance, a 2 × 10 southern yellow pine joist can span 16 feet and 1″ without support. 

Douglas fir 2×10 Joist can span up to 21 feet for a live load worth 30 pounds per square foot if spaced 12″ apart. For 16″ spacing, it can span 19 feet and 1 inch. A live load worth 60 pounds per square foot requires more support and fewer spans.

For example, if spaced at 12″, the joist can only span 16 feet 8 inches. At 16″ spacing, the joist can span 15 feet 2 inches. You can use a joist span table to know the maximum 2 × 10 joist spans for other wood grades and species.

Tip: Not all trees are equally strong, and the tree type used to make wood affects how far the joist can span. For instance, those board cuts graded as ” structural select” have the most extended spans.

How Many Posts Do I Need For a 12 × 16 Deck? 


A well-designed deck that blends with its surroundings functions well, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors for years. You need a structural engineer to examine the exact spacing of posts and the thickness requirements to tolerate your deck’s weight and the finish materials.

So how many posts do I need for a 12 × 16 deck? The International Residential Code suggests that any deck larger than 8 × 12 needs a post on each corner. The number of posts required depends on symmetry or aesthetic reasons. 

If you plan to install your deck with staircases, ensure the railings have a spacing of less than 5 ½  apart. And the staircase top will require a set of posts. The more twist and turns the staircase is, the more posts it requires.

Is a Joist Hanger Stronger Than Nailing?

Image of deck screw but is it #8 or #10 Screws for Decking?Joist hangers are primarily used in deck installation than toenailing and end nailing because the hanger secures the joists as you fasten them. However, there are instances where end nailing is useful, like being used to hold a joist in place temporarily or to attach joists.

End nailing is not as effective as joist hangers because the nail is fastened with the grain. Nailing into the face grain is simpler due to less resistance.

And less resistance translates to a much weaker attachment. Nailing against the grain is stronger since the screw or nail penetrates the grains, firmly securing the fastener.

So using a joist hanger rather than end nailing is considered a viable option when setting up a deck. Another issue with end nailing is that it’s impossible to end nail joists attached to a ledger board. In such cases, only joist hangers or toe nailing can prevail.


Knowing the correct size nails for deck framing can make your deck installation process an easy task. Nails are sized by their length, and their gauge increases as the penny size increases.

Using longer nails with a thicker diameter is likely to split your deck frame, and that’s why it pays to get the right nail size to prevent splitting. Therefore…

What Size Nails for Deck Framing?


As I stated in this article before, it is best to use 10d (3″) or 16d (3½”) hot-dipped (HD) or double-dipped (DD) galvanized or stainless steel common spiral nails for your deck framing project. Thus is for a standard deck project, in other cases, it all depends with the size of wood you use for your deck.

This guide has highlighted various nail types varying in length and diameter. I hope you now understand the correct nail size for your incoming deck project.

Do you have a question, opinion or suggestion that you would love to share with me and other readers? Kindly let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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