What Screws to Use on a Privacy Fence

Updated April 17, 2017

Constructing a privacy fence adds to the aesthetic appeal of a home's landscaping, while simultaneously providing boundary markers and added security. Choosing the right construction methods and materials ensures your investment lasts. Screws keep the joints between pickets and frame tight, but the wrong screw can cause corrosion and wood discolouration. Saving a few pennies on inexpensive and inappropriate screws can lead to the destruction of both the aesthetic appeal of a fence and its durability as a security feature.

Indoor Versus Outdoor Screws

Landscaping features, fences and other outdoor construction projects must withstand the harsh extremes of seasonal weather conditions. The screws used in constructing a fence line must endure temperature fluctuations, rain, snow, and wind. Screws for outdoor construction have properties that resist rust, corrosion and other metal fatigue attributable to weather. Outdoor screws are also treated to prevent chemical reactions between the metal and the chemicals used to treat wood for outdoor use. Screws for indoor construction are not typically as strong in terms of metal used, nor are they treated with coatings to protect against weather or the chemicals in treated wood.

Threat Cut Basics

Any wood project requiring screws necessitates the need to consider the length, head style, and cut of a particular screw. The cut of a particular screw refers to the number of threads on a screw and their spacing, generally available in either a fine or a coarse cut. Fine-cut screws have threads that appear very close together, where coarse-cut screws have few threads at wider spacing. Coarse-cut screws tighten faster and are harder to strip or pull out of wood than fine-cut screws. This is due to fewer teeth and larger bites into the wood between threads.

Head Style and Shank Length

Head styles are typically Philips with an "X" shaped opening for drill bits, or square heads with square openings for drill bits. Square heads are harder to strip with a bit than Philips heads. Head size varies based on personal preference, including small heads for finishing and large heads for additional grip. In terms of length, measurements refer to the shank, the long threaded body of the screw. A screw for fencing should be long enough to firmly hold pickets to rails and rails to posts without exiting the opposite side. Choices for length range from less than 1 inch to several inches, with fractional lengths in between.

Metals, Coatings, and Other Treatments

Outdoor screws suitable for decking, privacy fencing, and other outdoor projects are typically made of steel and referred to as simply deck screws. There are numerous options for material construction and finished coatings. Epoxy coated, galvanised, zinc coated or stainless steel screws are the best for privacy fence construction. The exact material selected depends on the specific type of wood used. Cedar and similar wood reacts with galvanised screws. Zinc coated screws may leave black streaks on pine wood pickets. Epoxy coated screws are treated with a special resin that protects the screw from weather and chemical reactions that lead to corrosion.

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About the Author

Sandra Johnson is a freelance writer, ghostwriting for private clients since 2006, and writing for print and online publications such as Sashay Magazine. She has studied with both Kaplan and Colorado Technical universities for bachelor's degrees in both human resources and accounting. In addition to writing, Johnson also operates a small family farm in rural Georgia.