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Joist Hangers vs End Nailing: Which Is Better For You?

Joist Hangers vs End Nailing: Which Is Better For You?

The strength of the connections of each deck component must be your primary concern while working on a decking project. Deciding between joist hangers vs end nailing will enable you to create a firm joist connection that provides the stability to the entire structure.

You should keep in mind that each structure must pass the building inspection, which is why it is important to adhere to the local rules and regulations that determine which types of fasteners can be used to create joist connections.

Each of these joist connection techniques is applicable during different stages of roofing or decking projects, so rather than thinking about which one of them you should use, you should try to figure out when to use them.

This joist hangers vs end nailing comparison will help you understand better the differences between these two joist connection types.

Main Differences Between Joist Hangers vs End Nailing

The Main Differences Between Joist Hangers vs End Nailing are:

  • Joist hangers are metal parts that attach a joist to a ledger board, whereas end nailing is a technique of driving nails through a joist and a ledger board
  • Joist hangers are approved by most building inspections, whereas End nailing is not an approved joist connection technique
  • Joist hangers create strong connections, whereas the end nailing connections are not considered safe
  • Joist hangers utilize metal brackets to keep two beams together, whereas End nailing involves driving a nail or a screw through the face-grain of the joist piece
  • Joist Hangers create permanent connections, whereas the end nailing connections are only temporary

Key Specifications

As end nailing is just a method of driving one or more nails or screws at the point where a joist and ledger board meet this technique doesn’t have specifications. The type and size of fasteners you can use to create an end nailing connection depends on the width of the planks and beams you want to attach.

Joist Hangers

On the other hand, many different types of joist hangers can be installed using 10d, 12d, or 16d nails. These connection plates are usually made of stainless steel, while models made of steel are zinc coated in order to make them resistant to corrosion.

Also, joist hangers are available in different sizes, so you can choose between short models that are up to 8.2-inches long or standard models that are 12-inches long. The largest joist hangers are between 18-inches and 24-inches long and they are commonly used for heavy constructions.

Evaluating the Joist Hanger and End Nailing features

Joist hangers

The safest way to create a stable deck or roof is to use joist hangers to attach joists to ledger boards. There are several types of these connection plates and each of them is designed for a slightly different purpose. The most common types of joist hangers are:

  • Mini joist hangers
  • Long Leg joist hangers
  • Timber to timber joist hangers
  • Face fix joist hangers
  • 45-degree angled joist hangers
  • I-joist hangers
  • Concealed flange joist hangers
  • Saddle joist hangers
  • Masonry return joist hangers
  • Masonry joist hangers
  • Welded masonry joist hangers

Let’s take a look at the properties of different joist hanger types.

Joist hangers

Wood joist hangers

This joist hanger type is primarily used for decking projects, although it can be utilized efficiently on all projects that involve the creation of wooden constructions. Opting for zinc-coated models is recommended if the construction is going to be exposed to rain.

Concealed joist hangers

Attaching the side flanges of a joist hanger in areas that are difficult to reach isn’t always possible, and you will have to use a concealed joist hanger to secure a safe connection.

Besides, this type of joist hanger can be installed at the edge of a ledger board without having to drive nails or screws into the end-grain of the lumber.

I-joist hanger

This type of joist hanger is manufactured from engineered wood and it’s capable of carrying high amounts of weight. These connection plates are often used to secure i-joist as they reduce the chances of driving nails incorrectly and other common mistakes.

45-degree angled joist hangers

In case you don’t want to attach a joist to a ledger board at the right angle, you can use a 45-degree angled joist hanger. The installation process of these joist hangers is identical to any other type of joist hanger, as you just have to drive nails through them.

Additional features

Some joist hangers can feature an adjustment tab that enables them to fit the surface on which they are installed and provide a strong connection between a joist and a beam or a ledger board. Choosing a model that features a tab can make the installation process quicker and easier.

End nailing

This joist connection technique can only be used to attach a joist to a ledger board temporarily, but it can’t be a long-term solution. This technique involves driving a nail or a screw through the ledger into the face-grain of a joist.

End nailing

Consequently, it doesn’t provide a lot of holding power since the nails are driven into the end grain of a joist. So, if you’re working on decking or a roofing project, you can use end nailing to attach a joist to a ledger or a plank until a more stable connection solution can be installed.

Also, your project is not going to be approved by a building inspection if you use end nailing to create a decking construction. Go through our guide to the best woodworking tools for more information about tools you need to build a deck.

Joist hangers

Pros

  • Made from durable materials
  • Available in a broad range of shapes and sizes
  • Simple installation process
  • Capable of carrying heavy loads

Cons

  • Some models are not resistant to corrosion
  • Performance depends on the model

End nailing

Pros

  • Requires a minimum amount of effort
  • A quick way to attach a joist to a ledger board

Cons

  • Making joist connection using this technique is against the law
  • Lacks the holding power to provide a solid support
  • End nailing doesn’t make a construction safe

Joist Hangers – Recommended Products

If you need a strong, durable joist hanger, here are a few we’d recommend:

USP Slant Nail Joist Hangers

The USP Slant Nail Joist Hangers use standard-length nails, and the patented dimple allows for 30-45 degree nailing. They’re triple-zinc coated and can handle single joists of 2×6 or 2×8. They come in a set of 100, so if you have a lot of work to do, these are a good choice.

Simpson Strong-Tie Joist Hangers

The Simpson Strong-Tie Joist Hangers are strong, with a double-shear nailing design to improve strength using fewer nails. It has speed prongs, which make installation fast and easy, and angled joist nailing to make it easier to install in tight spaces.

Simpson Strong-Tie Double Shear Joist Hanger

If you need a double shear joist hanger, the Simpson Strong-Tie Double Shear Joist Hanger is an excellent choice. The double-shear nailing design allows for greater strength using fewer nails, and it has an angled joist for easy installation. 

They’re made from 18-gauge steel, so you can depend on them to be nice and strong. These joist hangers are compatible with 10d common nails or 2-½ inch Strong Drive SD screws.

End Nailing – Recommended Products

If you want to go for end nailing, you’ll need strong, durable nails to hold everything in place. Here are a few options you could go for:

GripRite 8D Galvanized Steel Common Nails

These GripRite 8D Galvanized Steel Common Nails are great for any kind of construction, including carpentry. They have a large shank which gives greater strength and resistance against bending, and they’re galvanized, which means they work well for outdoor use – which is what you want if you’re building decking.

Fas-N-Tight 500-Gauge Galvanized Smooth Nails

The Fas-N-Tight 500-Gauge Galvanized Smooth Nails are great for many woodworking projects. They’re ideal for exterior carpentry projects (like decking), as they’re galvanized to make them extra-strong.

USP 8-Gauge Steel Common Nails

The USP 8-Gauge Steel Common Nails have a gold-coated polymer finish for excellent corrosion resistance. They’re made from strong, 8-gauge steel, ideal for interior and exterior woodworking projects.

The best alternatives to joist hangers and end nailing

End nailing isn’t really a joist connection method since you can only use it to temporarily fasten a joist to a ledger board during the construction process. Consequently, joist hangers are the most reliable option if you want to ensure that joists are firmly attached to ledger boards.

Joist hangers alternatives

Some carpenters use a toe-nailing technique as an alternative to joist hangers because it is more affordable.

Toe-nailing

Toe-nailing is simply a way of driving a nail through the vertical face of a joist and into a ledger board. A nail should be driven diagonally and approximately 1-3/4-inches into a ledger board or a joist, so to complete the task successfully you’re going to need 12d nails.

Also, this joist attachment technique requires you to drive the right amount of nails from each side, but the exact amount of nails depends on the joist type. You should keep in mind that using too many nails can render a joist unusable.

That’s why you should avoid using this technique if you are not familiar with it since even a minor mistake can damage the material and affect the stability of the entire structure. However, when implemented correctly toe-nailing provides a similar amount of holding power as joist hangers.

Frequently asked questions about end nailing and joist hangers

Question: Can I use screws instead of nails to connect joists and ledger boards?

Answer: Nails are stronger than screws and they keep joists and ledger boards in place, while screws may not be able to support a heavy construction.

Question: Is it safe to use a nail gun to attach joist hangers?

Answer: Installing joist hangers requires a high level of precision, so you should drive nails manually unless you have a nail gun that enables you to drive nails accurately.

Question: Can I make adjustments on joist hangers?

Answer: Cutting, bending or adjusting joist hangers in any way affects their ability to support joists and it may make an entire decking or roofing construction unstable.

Question: When to use end nailing?

Answer: Using the end nailing method to attach a joist to a ledger board is acceptable during the construction process, but you must make sure that each joist connection is secured either by the toe-nailing method or joist hangers before you start using a deck.

Final Thoughts: How to create a functional deck construction

Building a deck or repairing the roof requires you to work with different types of lumber. Each joist and board needs to be firmly in place for the construction to be stable.

That’s why it is not enough to fasten a joist to a ledger board with a couple of nails using the so-called end nailing technique because the material is too heavy to be held in place by a few nails.

Consequently, joist hangers are your best option if you want to ensure that your deck’s structure can carry the weight of the floor you install on it. The toe-nailing joist connection method is the only alternative that can withstand a similar amount of weight as joist hangers.

Was this joist hangers vs end nailing comparison helpful? Let us know in the comments or check out our guide to the best under-deck ideas if you’re searching for inspiration for your next project.

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