Most people do not consider how important choosing the proper nails are in fence building.
When you think about it....
It's the nails that hold EVERYTHING together.
The combination of natural acids found in cedar, preservative chemicals found in treated lumber, and the outdoor environment in general, is very corrosive to nails and hardware.
Lumber used outdoors shrinks and expands depending on the humidity and rain. When cedar gets wet, it swells. As cedar dries, it shrinks again. With this constant movement, the proper choice of nail is crucial. Installing the wrong nails or using cheap nails is the #1 reason fences fall apart.
We see it every day...
All nails are not created equal. Different metals, shapes, lengths, textures and galvanization process determine the proper use for each type of nail.
See the information below for a lesson or two on nails!
Stainless Steel / Ring Shank
Stainless Steel is the best nail for any job in any wood.
Stainless is extremely durable, available, and very expensive.
Aluminum is the next best choice as far as cost is concerned.
/ Ring Shank
Hancock Fence uses these nails in all of our cedar fences!
This is the best nail we can find that's less expensive than stainless steel and does not react with the acids in cedar.
The circular rings on the nail ("ring shank") help provide maximum grip, locking into the fibers in the wood so they are much less likely to loosen or pull out from the effects of expansion and contraction.
Since they are aluminum, future rusting, bleeding and corrosion are not an issue like the nails below!
This is commonly known as "bleeding". This is a result of the acid in the cedar eating away at the nail.
This is obviously the wrong choice of nail for the job!
Electro-Galvanized Steel / Ring Shank
Hancock Fence has been using these nails for many years. This is a Genuine Duo-Fast brand nail. No cheap, generic imports here! The special galvanizing process on these nails is extremely durable and has served our customers well. However.... corrosion and bleeding is always a possibility since they are made from steel.
After finding the aluminum nails in a ring shank configuration (vs. a screw shank) we have proudly switched to aluminum picket nails in all CEDAR FENCES for 2011 to further improve the quality and lifespan of our fences. These nails are still used in our budget RightWood Fences because the aluminum nails are too soft for pine.
Aluminum / Twist Shank
These nails have a gradual twist down the length of the shank instead of rings. This type of nail is commonly found in fencing. The aluminum part is good, they don't rust!
The twist shank...... not so much.
This nail grips only slightly better than a common smooth shank nail. We replace fences all the time with these nails. The natural expansion and contraction of the fence causes screw shank nails to "unscrew" themselves causing the fence to fall apart. Hancock Fence does not recommend screw shank nails under any circumstances.
Common / Smooth Shank
These nails have no business in any fence, deck or outdoor project! With no rings or twists these nails are as smooth as a baby's behind and wont grip anything.
These nails are dirt cheap and not recommended for fencing.
There are way too many nails available at your local home center to mention here. The vast majority of them are WRONG for use in cedar!
One honorable mention is "Hot Dipped, Galvanized" Nails. This galvanizing process is extremely durable but has a severe reaction with the acid in cedar. The pictures above of the bleeding nails are hot dipped nails.
Thank you for reading this far! I hope you found this information useful and informative.
We hope you choose Hancock Fence for your build!
"Price your fence by the years,
not by the foot"!