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How to Use a Nail Gun on Decking

Mason Howard

Speed up the process of building your deck by using a nail gun. Types of nail guns include electric, pneumatic (which uses compressed air to pressure-drive nails) and combustion (which is battery-operated and uses gas and a spark plug to piston-drive the nails). Although you can use a nail gun to tack framing, ledger and joist boards, in deck building such boards are traditionally screwed together, bolted or bracketed. Use a nail gun primarily for affixing the decking and trim (or fascia) boards, with stainless-steel-finish nails to avoid rusting. For adequate penetration, nails should be one-and-a-half inches longer than the boards.

Step 1

Place a small amount of construction adhesive on top of the joists (supports) before affixing a decking board. This will prevent the board from coming up over time and prevent creaking by creating a cushion between the boards and the joists. Position boards in place, one at a time, on top of the adhesive.

Step 2

Drive the nails to secure the decking boards. Use two nails at every board-joist intersection. Nail guns are spring-loaded, so the trigger will stay locked until you push down on the tip of the nail gun to depress the spring. To drive a nail, position the tip of the nail gun, push down with slight pressure to depress the spring, and pull the trigger. Angle the two nails used at each board-joist intersection slightly inward by holding the nail gun at a slight tilt when nailing.

Step 3

Apply a zigzagging bead of construction adhesive to the back of trim boards before affixing them to the deck frame.

Step 4

Drive the nails to secure the trim boards. Drive a row of nails along the top edge and a row of nails along the bottom edge. Space the nails 16 inches apart. Use a vertical row of three nails for each board at every seam and corner.