When it comes to understanding the world of cedar, there are few people we trust more than “Mr. Cedar” himself, Paul Mackie. Known as the “voice of the cedar industry," Paul has been with the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association for more than two decades, working to represent quality cedar producers and educate others on all things cedar. In this series, he’ll share everything cedar-related, from what exactly western red cedar is to the difference between kiln- and air-dried lumber to installation best practice. 

Today’s video goes over the best fasteners to use when installing western red cedar—and which ones to avoid.

Which fastener is best for western red cedar?

Stainless steel is the best choice when using western red cedar. Hot dipped galvanized is the most widely used (and one of the most economical fasteners), and aluminum is an option, too. These fasteners are all corrosion-resistant. 

Can I use screws?

We don’t recommend using screws when installing western red cedar siding because there is a tendency to overdrive them. You can use double hot dipped galvanized siding nails meeting ASTM A153 standards, but we only recommend that if the siding or trim is pre-primed and going to be top-coated with solid stain or paint. 

If the desired finish is no finish, or a transparent or semi-transparent stain, stainless steel is the only way to go. 

What about other metals, like copper?

Copper, other types of metal, and other galvanized fasteners are not recommended. The water-soluble extractives in western red cedar will disintegrate and eat copper, and electroplated and mechanical fasteners don’t have anywhere near as much zinc coating on them as does the double hot dipped type.

What's the best fastener for cedar decking?

When it comes to decking applications, most people are going to use screws, ring shank nails, or spiral shank nails. With screws, there’s less danger of the coating coming off when using the type with a head where the screw bit is not going to walk out of it. 

The underlying material of these screws is iron, and if the coating comes off by being hit with a hammer or because the bit comes out of the screw head, you wind up with iron coming in direct contact with the wood—producing bluish-black or black iron stains. The only way to remedy this is to remove the fastener, treat the stained area with a mild oxalic acid solution, and replace the fastener with one that’s approved.

Stay tuned for more from Paul as we continue to learn from him on Dunn Solutions over the next few months. In the meantime, catch up on his previous posts:

What Is Western Red Cedar?

What Is the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association?

What Are the Best Uses for Western Red Cedar?

What's the Difference Between Kiln-Dried and Air-Dried Western Red Cedar?

How Is Western Red Cedar Graded?

How Should You Treat and Stain Western Red Cedar?

What Are the Best Fasteners For Installing Western Red Cedar?