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Stainless Steel Nails, Screws & Fasteners

Rust is a constant nemesis of many houses. The prolific use of iron and steel in residential home construction is the root of the problem. Iron nails and steel construction components are used for several reasons. Number one, steel is very inexpensive. Number two, steel is very strong. However, iron and steel have a tendency to react unfavorably with water and air. The end result is that orange-brown crust called rust.

Rust corrosion can become a serious problem. At first it simply is a cosmetic problem. Rust stains that appear through paint or run down brickwork. However, if left unchecked, steel or iron components can corrode to a point where they loose their structural integrity. The possibilities are endless in many homes. For example, steel reinforcing in concrete can and does rust and corrode. The corrosion actually causes the steel to expand which cause the concrete to crack. Steel lintels which support brickwork and stone work above windows and doors can readily rust if not adequately protected. Nails, screws, bolts, etc. used in outdoor projects will readily corrode and loose strength. This loss of strength can actually be accelerated if steel or iron products come in contact with chemically treated lumber. The solution is to use a fastener that will not corrode. This is where stainless steel comes into the picture.

The Ultimate Metal

If you never want to worry about rust and corrosion, you simply need to use stainless steel. There are different types of stainless steel, but the most common types are known as #304 and #316. Stainless steel is an alloy of steel, chromium and nickel. These basic ingredients are forged together to form a different metal that has greater strength than steel, and excellent corrosion resistance. Certain harsh chemicals and salt spray can corrode 304 stainless steel. 304 stainless steel has 18 percent chromium content and 8 percent nickel content. As such it is often referred to as 18-8 stainless. 316 stainless steel is the ultimate corrosion resistant alloy. By adding an additional ingredient - molybdenum - to the other ingredients, this form of stainless steel will resist attacks by just about anything you can throw at it.

Stainless steel is used to make siding nails, screws, nuts, bolts, etc. In fact, if you know a good welder, you can fashion brackets, joist hangers, etc. from pieces of stainless steel. Not too long ago, I made a double joist hanger for an exterior deck from stainless steel. The deck structure was made from redwood and I simply did not want to take a chance with rust making an appearance in several years. Yes, you will pay slightly more for stainless steel hardware, but it will be worth it. You will not have to worry about rust or structural failure caused by rust and corrosion.

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2 Responses to Stainless Steel Nails, Screws & Fasteners

  1. A question about screw hardness. I understand that rust resistance is a different issue, I am not asking about that. I generally by the standard home depot types of screws for various indoor projects. They often round and occasionally break. Probably with perfect installation technique this would not occur, but I am interested in finding out about "harder" screws. What types of screw material would be plain old harder? Thanks JK

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