‘Concealed’ Screwed-Down Decking
Want the look of hidden fastener attached decking and the positive anchoring you get with screws? Then check out the Kreg Deck Jig. The pocket screw guide drives screws at an angle through the edges of deck boards about 1/8 inch down from the top. You can still see the screws if you peer down between boards; but I don’t find it any more conspicuous than the bit of other types of hidden fasteners visible between deck boards. The deck board surface is blemish-free.
The heavy duty plastic jig rests on top of the deck board and a stop fin on the bottom orients the screw guides to the board edge. The kit comes with a pilot bit and driver bit; you supply the drill / driver. There are three guide holes, one straight on and two at 45 degree offsets. The angled guides are used in two different instances: when screwing decking laid diagonally across joists and at board ends to avoid splits (be they butt ends, the edge of the deck or when boards end at a wall). A sample bag of screws and two 3 pc. sets of board spacers for ¼ in. and 5/16 in. joints are also included in the kit.
The printed instructions and DVD included in the kit are straight forward explaining the assembly and use so I won’t explain those here. You can also get a good sense of the system from the 3 ½ min. promotional video.
Straight off, don’t expect to set any speed records using the Kreg system; it still takes the same time as face screwing – you just get the benefit of a smooth deck surface. Working with the system on a couple projects I found a few tips increase production speed and improve the finish appearance of the decking.
You’ll want at least two Kreg Deck Jigs if you’re laying decking with a crew. Rather than pocket screwing each board as you place it, just drive enough screws to secure the board. I set screws at 2 to 4 joist intervals depending on how straight the boards are. After tack screwing each board course, move on to the next course. Another worker can follow behind focusing just on setting screws with the second jig. Then when all the boards are tacked down, the first jig can go to work production screwing too.
Have two drill/drivers set up, one with the pilot bit and the other with the driver bit. This saves tons of time swapping out the bits with each drive. And don’t try piloting a series of holes and then returning to drive the screws; it’s hard to precisely reposition the guide to the hole.
One modification I made to the jig is to place a 1/8 in. bolt through the base ¾ in. from the center pilot guide. The bottom of the bolt sticks down about an inch and registers the side of the deck joists. You can line the jig up by eye but this simple addition saves several seconds with each screw. The important thing is you have to bore the bolt hole right through the board edge fin on the jig. A drill press makes this an easy step.
Have a piece of sand paper handy when installing wood decking. The pilot bit sometimes leaves a little tear-out that’s easier to clean up as you’re screwing along rather than hunting the spots later.
The instructions call for face screwing along the building and other spots where the jig can’t be positioned. You can avoid face screwing by either using undermount clips or angles for the first couple boards, or screwing up from beneath through the joist and into the decking.