Ask Dr. Steel: “What are the Advantages of Using Stainless Finish Nails?”
We recently got a letter from a customer asking us how to solve a rust problem they were having with the nails of a picket fence they had in their backyard. It turns out they had installed the boards using a galvanized nail and then painted the fence white. After about a year everywhere they had painted over a nail that was beginning to show signs of rust. Unfortunately for that customer we had to tell them that this is one of the drawbacks to using a galvanized nail as it will rust after exposure to the elements and time. We suggested that they use stainless finish nails for such projects in the future.
Stainless finish nails are the close cousins to stainless steel metals that you may have throughout your house. Usually these nails are composed of the same materials that make up most traditional 8-point or other nails used for wood projects but have a stainless finish applied to prevent rusting when exposed to the elements. Though these nails usually cost about a penny more per nail than traditional nails, they will outperform their galvanized counterparts in terms of overall look and aesthetic appeal for years.
Perfect for any type of outside project like a deck, fence or garden trellis, stainless finish nails provide the strength needed to hold together wood and other materials while providing the protective coating needed to withstand corrosion and rusting. As our customer experienced, traditional nails will rust because they do not have a protective coating. In the case of galvanized nails, they have a basic coating that will maintain the aesthetic quality for a while, but with prolonged exposure to the elements will break down and begin rusting. Stainless finish nails on the other hand have the ability to withstand the elements and if damaged during installation (such as a scratch or a bend) the protective chromium covering that gives all stainless metals their “stain less” properties will form a new protective barrier.
Stainless finish nails are also good choices for when working inside the home as well. Carpeting and door moldings will benefit from stainless nails not only for their durability, but also because of their aesthetic appearance. Stainless nails have a luster that ordinary nails do not which means that they will look good without being painted over or counter-sunk into the wood.
If you are doing any window work, including sills, then stainless finish nails should be your first and only choice. Windows tend to be exposed to high moisture content no matter how well they are sealed because of internal and external temperature variations. By using stainless finish nails you guarantee that your window sills and moldings will not develop that rusty look that is all too common in older homes.
Stainless finish nails are available at every hardware and home improvement store and come in a variety of finishes. They range from ultra-shiny to a duller coating depending on the application and final aesthetic quality you are looking for in the nail. They also can be painted and stained over without the protective finish being compromised.
And as far as our customer with the rusty fence goes, we heard back from him a few months later. He had gone through the painstaking process of sanding off the old paint and removing the old nails and using stainless finish nails. He reports back that so far he hasn't noticed any rust forming and the fence is looking better than ever.