Real Estate

Determination of the best type of fastener to use for the construction of outdoor furniture

If you want to learn more about selecting hardware for your next outdoor furniture project, then you will want to read this article. Specifically, I’ll tell you what type of hardware will work best, why the type of metal used for fasteners and the finish used are important considerations, and how you can increase adequate protection or limit your furniture’s exposure to wet and wintry conditions. Life expectancy. Once you are done with this article, you will understand that the best hardware choice for your outdoor furniture project depends on the style of the furniture, the material used for construction, the location selected for the furniture, and the budget.

Selecting the right hardware for your furniture will help ensure long life, as well as enhance the overall appearance of your furniture. Part of the problem is knowing which hardware to select when there are so many options available at the hardware store. The typical Lowes or Home Depot offers a large selection of bolts, nuts, washers and screws made of stainless steel, hot dip galvanized, bright galvanized, plain steel, plated steel and brass. Each type of fastener is suitable for certain applications, but not all are ideal for outdoor furniture applications.

In fact, choosing the wrong fasteners can greatly shorten the life of your furniture, contribute to wood furniture rotting, cause unsightly stains, and even make it unsafe to use.

One thing to keep in mind up front is never to use unprotected steel fasteners for outdoor furniture. They will rust very quickly and the steel will react with the tannic acid in the wood causing scratches and stains. Tannic acid actually accelerates the corrosion of fasteners. Have you ever seen a black striped wooden fence running down the boards from the nails? This fence was installed with the wrong type of fasteners. The same will happen with your furniture. Worse still, as the fasteners rust, they will speed up the process of decomposing the wood around the rusted fasteners, ruining your furniture and making it potentially unsafe to use.

Hot dip galvanized

The hot dip galvanized screws and bolts are specifically designed for outdoor use. Electroplated or bright galvanized galvanized fasteners will ultimately not hold up as well as hot dip galvanized hardware. Zinc is used as a coating in both methods and acts as a barrier against the elements and tannic acids in the wood.

However, I highly recommend using only screws or bolts when building outdoor furniture. The galvanized finish of nails, whether galvanized or hot-dipped, can be easily damaged by hammering, exposing the head of the nail to the elements and allowing them to quickly begin to rust.

Proper care must be taken when installing galvanized bolts. Drill pilot holes in hardwoods and be sure to use a bit that is not worn and can chip into the screw head. For whatever reason, galvanized bolts appear not to be as well tempered as other steel fasteners and are more likely to break or dislodge when installed. Due to the tolerance required for hot dip coating, galvanized bolts do not have as tight a tolerance on threads and are more likely to break if overtightened.

Hot-dip galvanized fasteners are a great option for many outdoor furniture applications, including Adirondack chairs, but they are not the best option for use on woods, such as teak.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the best choice for use in woods with higher levels of tannic acid, such as teak. Stainless steel is an alloy or mixture of steel, nickel, and chromium. The ratio of the other metals to the steel determines the resistance to weathering and corrosion of stainless steel. Because steel mixes with other softer metals, stainless steel is not as strong, so pre-drilling of screw holes is highly recommended in all applications and is essential in hardwoods such as teak and mahogany. The additional corrosion resistance far outweighs any deficiencies the metal may have, especially in outdoor furniture applications.

While stainless steel fasteners are the most resistant to rust, they are also the most expensive of the options we are discussing. However, the use of stainless steel fasteners will add years of life to your furniture. In that sense, they are an investment that will pay off in the coming years.


I have seen brass used in some commercially produced outdoor furniture, but I do not recommend it. While brass does not form red rust and is well suited for many wet applications such as toilets and sinks, it does tarnish and corrode. It is also very susceptible to the tannic acids in wood, which will cause it to fail more quickly. Brass screws, in particular, are not strong enough for outdoor furniture applications.

Exterior or deck screws

In recent years, several manufacturers have introduced outdoor fastening products marketed specifically for roof construction. These will generally be green, gray, tan, or brown. These screws are coated with ceramic or plastic to delay the reaction of the metal with the acids in the wood. Specific coating methods are proprietary to each manufacturer and can be a combination of galvanized plating and plastic, or a fired ceramic.

I have used these fasteners in furniture applications and they work great. Unfortunately, I have not come across screws with this type of finish. The brand of screws I used was Deck Mate, and they were available in tan and brown so the color can be selected to best match the wood being used. These screws are ceramic coated and the manufacturer provided a coated drill bit for installation, which was designed not to damage the ceramic coating on the screw head. If you choose this type of bra, be sure to compare the cost with stainless steel, as the price will vary. If stainless steel has a reasonably comparable cost, it would be the recommended fastener.

Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s specifications on the box to make sure the screws are suitable for your application.

Other considerations

If you are building furniture that will sit on a covered porch or patio where it will be protected from the elements, the concern will be the interaction between the wood and the fasteners, much more than the weather. Furniture that will be exposed to the elements throughout the year, such as a garden bench or an Adirondack chair in the corner of your garden, will need to be constructed with much more care and concern to ensure that it will hold more than one or more. two winters.

Additional considerations must be made beyond choosing the type of bra to be used, although this is very important. For example, bras should not be located where water collects and sits on bras for an extended period of time. The screws that hold the seat slats to an Adirondack chair are an excellent example; these screws will generally be countersunk below the surface of the wood. This will allow water to pool in the screw holes, shortening the life of all fasteners except stainless steel and prolonging the wood’s exposure to water, increasing the rate of decay. In applications where furniture will be exposed to the elements year-round, the screw heads must be flush with the surrounding wood surface.

The construction and design of the furniture are also important considerations. Are the horizontal surfaces of the furniture constructed in such a way as to allow them to spill water, rather than collect it? Think of a picnic table with a slatted or plank top. The gaps between the boards allow water to run off the top and not pool.


Stainless steel is often the best choice for outdoor furniture applications, although the cost may be prohibitive for some. There are other less expensive bra options available that will work acceptably. Do not use bare steel fasteners for outdoor furniture applications under any circumstances. Know where and how you plan to use your furniture and design it for the conditions it will be subjected to.

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