Pros and Cons of Hidden Deck Fasteners

A home’s outdoor deck design with two chairs and potted plants decorating the space. A neighbor’s home can be seen in the background.

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Hid­den deck fas­ten­ers are gain­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty today because they offer an aes­thet­ic solu­tion to deck­ing designs. How­ev­er, there are pros and cons to using these sys­tems, and the mate­ri­als you use to build your deck will deter­mine your project’s success. 

Tech­nol­o­gy has caught up with the demand for more styl­ish yet durable deck­ing sys­tems. You might just be sur­prised about the hid­den deck fas­ten­ers avail­able today.

A Review: Hidden Deck Fasteners

Often­times, the appear­ance of fas­ten­ers can be a detri­ment to the look of your exte­ri­or design. Hid­den fas­ten­ers offer a smoother sur­face to the deck, which builders, archi­tects and home­own­ers every­where have employed in some inspir­ing ways. 

If you’re look­ing for a fas­ten­er prod­uct that won’t detract from the aes­thet­ics of your deck, there are a few types of hid­den sys­tems avail­able. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers offer clip sys­tems that are installed under the boards so the fas­ten­ers are com­plete­ly tucked away from sight. Screw and plug com­bi­na­tions can also offer a clean­er sur­face appearance. 

Close up of hidden deck fastener using a screw and plug. A finger is pointing to a spot on the deck board, where the wooden plug hides the screw from view.

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There are sev­er­al types of hid­den deck fas­ten­ers out there, but not all per­form at the same lev­el. Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons behind hid­den fas­ten­ers and which prod­ucts might deliv­er ben­e­fits to your project. 

The Not-So-Great News

Hid­den fas­ten­ing sys­tems offer many solu­tions to home­own­ers who want a space for enter­tain­ing and enjoy­ing the out­doors. But these sys­tems aren’t always an option for every type of deck. 

There are require­ments and codes around build­ing deck­ing sys­tems onto the exte­ri­or of a home, and there are cli­mates where the sys­tem could require ear­ly repair or replace­ment because of severe con­di­tions and mois­ture. Here are a few things to con­sid­er before you start building:


  • Deck­ing has more than a 30-inch min­i­mum clear­ance, from the bot­tom of the deck boards to the ground. The ground below the deck should be pitched and drained, and installers will have to ensure that under-deck ven­ti­la­tion meets local requirements.


  • If you’re work­ing in a cli­mate that’s storm or flood-prone, you’ll need to watch out for wood shrink­age, which can leave large gaps between deck planks. A screw and plug sys­tem might not be the best solu­tion. Since the plug that’s installed on top of the screw is often made of the same mate­r­i­al as the boards — usu­al­ly, this is wood or a wood com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al — it won’t be real­ly effective.


  • If you’re a DIY­er, installing a hid­den fas­ten­ing sys­tem can involve a learn­ing curve, and often comes with a high­er price point. It’s best to use a fas­ten­ing sys­tem that’s code com­pli­ant, that you’re com­fort­able with and that fits in your budget.


  • Because their instal­la­tion process may be more com­plex for some builders, many use tra­di­tion­al fas­ten­ers because they’re more famil­iar with how they’re installed, which sim­pli­fies the process. Those that want to use a hid­den fas­ten­ing sys­tem need to do some research and take time to learn how to prop­er­ly work with the system.


There are pros and cons to weigh out on every project, but the fas­ten­ing sys­tem you decide on could help you get the job done more effi­cient­ly. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers have devel­oped hid­den fas­ten­ing sys­tems that are quick and easy to install. If you work with the right man­u­fac­tur­er, they can help you deter­mine which prod­ucts can deliv­er the best bud­get-friend­ly, code-com­pli­ant results — and long-term suc­cess for your project. 

Now, the Good News

The FastenMaster hidden decking system uses clips, installed with a pneumatic gun, to build decks smoothly and efficiently.

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Hid­den deck fas­ten­ers offer many ben­e­fits to the look of your home’s exte­ri­or design. The clean, no-screws look can cre­ate lots of mod­ern appeal in your out­door space. There are quite a few oth­er ben­e­fits that these sys­tems offer, though — it’s not just nice to look at!

Stronger Joist Connections

Because your screws are drilled in at a 45-degree angle, this pre­vents your boards from lift­ing or warp­ing and keeps the boards from split­ting over time. The con­nec­tion pro­vid­ed is strong and ensures a long-last­ing joist fas­ten­ing system.

Safer, Smoother Surface

Because there aren’t any pro­trud­ing screw heads on the sur­face of a deck, hid­den fas­ten­ers pro­vide a safer deck solu­tion to fam­i­lies with chil­dren and pets who might be run­ning around. 

Efficient Set-Up

Hid­den deck fas­ten­ers from Fas­ten­Mas­ter can be installed up to five times faster than stan­dard instal­la­tion meth­ods and don’t require pre-drilling. If you want to see how eas­i­ly a hid­den deck fas­ten­ing sys­tem is installed, see it in action here.

Long-Term Solution

When you use a high-per­form­ing deck­ing sys­tem with qual­i­ty-test­ed steel, you can ensure a long-term con­nec­tion that won’t degrade over time while sav­ing time and allow­ing for an eas­i­er instal­la­tion. Man­u­fac­tur­ers like Fas­ten­Mas­ter offer the Tiger­Claw sys­tem, which is approved for salt­wa­ter appli­ca­tions and ACQ or chem­i­cal­ly treat­ed lumber.

No mat­ter what type of hid­den deck fas­ten­ing sys­tem you work with, check­ing the war­ran­ty on the prod­ucts you choose can help guar­an­tee the longevi­ty of the design.

Durable Solutions for Deck Aesthetics

Hid­den deck fas­ten­ers don’t just offer sleek aes­thet­ic appeal; they can deliv­er high-per­form­ing dura­bil­i­ty so that you’ll enjoy the deck for decades. From hid­den clips and col­or match screws to Cor­tex plugs and col­or match fas­cia , Fas­ten­Mas­ter has a whole sys­tem to com­plete your design. 

Check out FastenMaster’s menu of hid­den deck­ing sys­tems to get start­ed on your next project. 

Look­ing for some more design insights or inter­est­ed in an exclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of mar­ket-lead­ing pro­fes­sion­al con­trac­tors who val­ue con­nec­tion strength, inno­va­tion and code-com­pli­ance in build­ing prac­tices? Become a PROStar mem­ber, a pro­gram open for pro­fes­sion­al con­trac­tors, today!