Screws: Built to Last – On the House

Screws: Built to Last

By on April 4, 2016

There’s an old saying, “they don’t build ‘em like they used to,” which is used in the context of comparing modern day construction to that of yesteryear. We wholeheartedly agree. Today they build ‘em better.

Before you old-timers get all worked up allow us to explain. Our grandfather began his career as a contractor around the turn of the century. He had the reputation of being one of the finest builders in our community. We are pleased to report that many of the commercial buildings and homes that he constructed in his nearly fifty years in the business are still standing.

It’s true that many of the early time builders and tradespeople were genuine craftsmen. Having acknowledged that, the integrity of a building involves a great deal more than just craftsmanship. Technology and the elements employed in modern construction make today’s buildings more comfortable, stronger and safer.

What we didn’t mention earlier is that many of the small one and two story commercial buildings that our grandfather built consisted of unreinforced masonry. One of the reasons that they are still standing is due much in part to seismic retrofitting which has enhanced their integrity and makes them more earthquake resistant.

The same building built today must comply with stringent engineering requirement which will cause it to withstand a multitude of forces. Accordingly, modern buildings (homes included) contain a variety of elements from steel reinforcement to state-of-the-art fasteners–all designed to build a better mousetrap.

Modern technology can be as simple as a screw. While many folks might have a difficult time relating to steel reinforcement, a screw is something that most of us have used at one time or another. In the old days screws were used at only a few locations–door hinges, door hardware or perhaps to make an unusual connection here or there. Nails were virtually the exclusive fastener.

Times have changed and the screw has taken its place among better builders as the fastener of choice. We’re not referring to your run-of-the-mill wood screws. We’re talking construction screws which use goes far beyond just wood.

Why screws? Simple, screws go in easier, hold tighter and resist rust longer. Nails are, by design, temporary fasteners. They split or wedge the wood fibers apart as they enter the material. What’s worse is that as the wood dries and shrinks nails tend to work loose and protrude or in some cases fall out. This condition is especially prevalent with decks, fences and nail pops at drywall. What you may not realize is that loose nails are also one of the biggest reasons for squeaking floors and staircases.

It is for these reasons that screws are now being used by building professionals to attach subfloor, connect framing, build stairs, mount windows and doors, install sheathing, siding and trim, cabinet assembly and installation, attach mortar board and install drywall. This has resulted in fewer repairs for the builder and less headaches for the homeowner. What’s more, screws can provide up to 350% more holding power than nails. Therefore, screws can be spaced farther apart which means fewer screws than nails to complete a job.

Whereas screws are the rage in new construction, they are equally valuable for remodeling work. This is primarily due to the fact that wood framing members dry and become quite brittle over time. This makes driving nails especially difficult causing nails to bend or the wood to split.

Screws are particularly effective for applying wallboard to a wall that has lath and plaster or tile on the other side that could otherwise be jarred by hammering. Unsuspecting do-it-yourselfers have been known to crack interior plaster walls, exterior stucco siding and ceramic tile in a futile attempt to drive a nail when all of this damage could have been easily avoided by simply using screws.

What professionals have known about screws for some time now is catching on in a big way in the do-it-yourself market. Most hardware stores and home improvement centers now stock a wide variety of screws for virtually any application. Not all screws are alike. Wood to wood connections, light gauge metal framing, wood to metal connections, drywall to metal and drywall to wood are just a few of the applications for which there is a particular screw.

The head, thread, point and finish are the main elements of screw construction that dictate which screw is best for a certain application. For example, for attaching drywall to wood you’d use a screw with a bugle head, coarse threads and a sharp point. On the other hand, when the goal is to eliminate a nasty floor squeak which is below carpet, you’d be better off using a trim head. Its head is similar to that of a finish nail and can be driven right through the carpet, pad, subfloor and into the framing.

Salt water, chemicals, acid rain, sunlight and industrial pollutants have long been the nemesis of exterior fasteners, nails and screws alike. Rusting and corroding nails at decks, docks, siding, barns, metal buildings and gutters and downspouts are a thing of the past thanks to new technology in the screw industry. Grabber Construction Screws, a major manufacturer of construction screws has produced a specially formulated plating which consists or a metallic zinc layer, a chemical coating layer and a patented finish that will withstand in excess of 500 hours of Salt Spray Testing–one of the industries most stringent tests for exterior screws.

The biggest challenge that a do-it-yourselfer has to face when using screws instead of nails is becoming familiar with using a screw gun. All things considered a crash coarse in screw gun 101 beats bent nails, smashed fingers and the ominous blemish caused by the strike of a wayward hammer.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.


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