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Types of Nails & Screws

Nails and screws, also known as fasteners, remain an integral part of the construction industry. Fasteners join materials such as wood and metal. Similar in most aspects, however, screws and nails differ in texture. The grooved sides of screws provide stiff performance for fastening items to materials like drywall and particle board in comparison to the straight sides of a nail. Nails require the use of a hammer or air gun while screws need screwdrivers or a drill for insertion.

Common Nail

Groove-sided screws and straight edged nails differ in their applications.

Usually used for rough construction, straight edges and a broad head characterize the common nail.  With an extra thick shank, otherwise known as the main body of the nail, common nails prevail as the general purpose nail. Most used in areas in which it's flat head remains tolerable and acceptable. 

Flathead Screw

Similar to the common nail, the flathead screw prevails as the general purpose screw.  Usually reserved for wood materials, the grooved edges of the screw do not reach the head of the screw. This makes it possible to place the flathead screw flush with the wood for a more visually appealing effect.  Use a slotted screwdriver with this type of screw.

Finishing Nail

Use a finishing nail to complete a project as you can easily conceal the head into the material being fastened.  The small, rounded heads and thin shanks make it easy to sink the nail if desired. Sinking requires nailing until flush with the material and then pushing the head below the surface with a nailset.  You can also easily paint the head of a finishing nail to conceal it.

Drywall Screw

Rugged and secure, however thin, drywall screws can enter studs and drywall.  Meant to connect wallboards to studs, these screws commonly come with a Phillips head. A cross slot in the head characterizes a Phillips head screw, similar to a plus sign.  Also known as multipurpose screws, these screws contain a black coating and groove-threaded edges through the main body.

Roofing Nail

Available in aluminum or regular, roofing nails contain a protective coating to resist water.  The extremely large head of roofing nails help keep the thick shingles in place. Use aluminum roofing nails with watertight washers for metal or plastic roofs as opposed to regular roofing nails.  These nails usually come coated in zinc to prevent rust from moisture with outdoor use.

Deck Screw

Similar to drywall screws, deck screws contain a Phillips head and sharp points.  Use deck screws outdoors on wood projects but avoid heavy construction work. Distinguished by a long shank and coarse groove threads, deck screws lack strength in comparison with other types.  Deck screws range from 3/4 inch up to 4 inches long.

About the Author

Crystal Lee began her freelance writing career in 2008. She has published multiple articles in "The Student Magazine" and for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in women's studies and sociology from the University of Windsor.