A Beginner’s Guide to Construction Fasteners

The primary benefit of construction fasteners is their ability to connect two objects and secure them with reliability and strength, while providing options for maintenance, updates, and adjustments. This is a valuable advantage, whether you are completing a simple project that requires only one or two types of fasteners or one that is more complex.

As a structure grows in size and complexity, it’s a given that more fasteners will be required to ensure safety and stability. Whether you are working from plans or designing your own, it helps to develop some knowledge of basic fasteners and the many different functions they serve. This basic guide will assist you in identifying common construction fasteners.

Identifying The Right Fastener For The Job At Hand

Though multiple fasteners ultimately serve the same purpose: to keep two elements together, they can vary considerably. Different features are required based on a number of factors, from the physics of a structure and basic gravity, to conditions that relate to the atmosphere and setting.

Here are some factors that will affect the type of fastener you will need. 

  • What is the accessibility of the installation surface? Some parts of the construction area are hard to reach and you need specific fasteners that allow for installation from one side.
  • What kinds of materials are being joined? Fasteners don’t impact all materials the same way. Depending on the two surfaces, you need to choose a fastener that will remain secure but will not damage or warp the materials.
  • Will the fasteners need to be adjusted or updated at some point? All this depends on the complexity of the structure and whether joining of elements will be permanent. For example, a standard wing nut and bolt assembly can be adjusted with ease, while A490 construction fasteners like galvanized tension control bolts are meant to be used as part of long-term installations, such as bridge and tunnel construction. 
  • Is speed of installation a priority over durability? The weight of the surfaces is a big factor in this matter. Some fasteners can penetrate easily and install quickly, but cannot hold weight. This is why brass rivets cannot do the job of heavy duty TC bolts and vice versa, but each type has its use.
  • What is the surrounding environment? This requires you to rethink the materials that you want to use. Some metal alloys withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, and corrosive circumstances better than others.

Different Types Of Construction Fasteners

  • Anchors — These specific fasteners are used to fuse concrete with other materials. They feature a threaded end that can be attached to other components.
  • Bolts — Bolts typically require pre-drilled or punched holes. They are commonly paired with a nut and spacing components like washers.
  • Nuts — Nuts are used to secure a bolt in place from the opposite end. They are often hex-shaped for easy tightening with a wrench or other tool. 
  • Screws — Screws do not require the use of a nut or any pre-drilled holes. Threads and a pointed end allow these fasteners to be drilled directly into a material. 
  • Washers — Washers come in many shapes and sizes, but they are frequently flat and round to be used for purposes of spacing and load distribution. 

Common Construction Fastener Materials

  • Carbon Steel — This strengthened form of steel adds toughness and strength to an already sturdy material.
  • Stainless Steel —This metal is most often used when resistance to corrosion and wear are required from a single high strength material.
  • Aluminum — Few materials can compete with the strength-to-weight ratio of this material. It’s also quite versatile thanks to its workability and resistance to rust. 
  • Brass — While there are many copper-based alloys, brass is the most popular for industrial uses due to its strength and economy. 
  • Silicon Bronze — Combining bronze with silicon increases the durability. They are mainly used in projects where resistance to corrosion and friction is required.