One common question we get from our customers is what is the best way to attach their vinyl brackets. What do we recommend? Screws or nails? While that may be a simple question, the answer is a little more detailed. There are many variables that need to be considered before answering that million dollar question.
The size and weight of the component and the material it will be attached to are the biggest factors to consider. For brackets over 40″, screws are best. Of course, no matter the size, if the bracket is going to be attached to brick or stone, screws are necessary.
In addition, seasonal weather needs to be considered. Will the brackets be exposed to high wind and rain? While rain/water has little effect on vinyl/PVC, trapped moisture can have an adverse effect on the material it is attached to, such as wood, and ultimately the fastener. We do recommend always caulking the sides of the bracket to help eliminate trapped moisture. Just keep the lowest end of the bracket free from caulking, to allow for drainage. Climate is also a major player in the fastener dilemma. Salty air in coastal areas require stainless steel. Galvanized steel for inland and mountain installations is just fine.
Solid components which are typically smaller, like porch brackets, can be attached using nails at each end (see drawing); Because one nail is installed vertically and one is installed horizontally, they work together to keep the other from easily pulling out.
Larger components that are typically hollow and fit over blocking are fastened from the side. If stress is applied to the bracket, it would be very difficult to make the nail bend when the nail is completely enclosed in the component and the structure.
So, all that aside, there is still the lingering question, screws or nails? Because, with either installation mentioned above, either type of fastener (screws or nails) could be used. For us, if there is an option and screws aren’t absolutely necessary, it all comes down to aesthetics–how you want the end product to look. Nails leave a small hole that is easily concealed with a dab of latex caulk. This can be done even when keeping the brackets in their natural white state. Screws, because of their wide head diameter, leave a large hole that is more difficult to cover, especially if you are painting the bracket.
Keep in mind, these are simply our suggestions. When installing your components, the best advice we can give is to take into account all the factors and make the decision that seems best for you. Of course, you are always welcome to call us to ask about your specific installation situation. 850-433-4981