by Don Benson, Sales & Marketing Manager and Al Geisthardt, Product Development at East Coast Fasteners

When builders are searching for someone to supply them with fasteners, too often the sole determining factor is based on price. That would be OK if all fasteners were the same. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are questions that need to be asked to determine the best quality fastener for your building.

When you purchase doors, windows, posts, trusses and panels to construct a post-frame building for any use, one of the primary considerations is the quality and corresponding life expectancy of those products. You want to know how long a post will last in the soil or how long the paint will hold up on the panels. It should be the same with fasteners. Like any other product, durability is a major factor in the final decision process. We all hear it time and time again, but it’s worth a reminder … the building you erect will serve your customer only as long as the component with the shortest life expectancy. 

product testing
Photo courtesy of East Fasteners

Ask about testing

If a fastener supplier can’t offer you any kind of testing results, there’s a reason. Almost all suppliers have conducted some kind of testing and it’s not too complicated to understand the differences. The most common and decisive test is a salt spray test required to meet ASTM B117. 

In a controlled environment within a laboratory, fasteners are subjected to a steady spray of salt water. Fasteners coated with a standard zinc coating may begin to show signs of weathering, also known as rust, in 100 hours. In a field application, this translates into a fastener showing signs of corrosion as early as a year or two. Find a supplier that tests fasteners for 1,000 hours or even 3,000 hours. Fasteners that endure even the 1,000-hour test, will last 20 years or more in the field before showing signs of corrosion. 

Ask about materials

Whether you’re fastening sheets with a Galvalume or galvanized substrate, the material your fastener is made of must be compatible for the longest service life. Stainless steel 304 fasteners will cause galvanic corrosion with either Galvalume or galvanized panels, meaning the panel will sacrifice itself. Obviously, that shortens the lifespan of the panels and ultimately, the building.

With Galvalume or galvanized panels, it’s recommended you use a mechanically zinc galvanized carbon steel fastener. For both, all fasteners should have a top coating for additional protection.

Ask about paint

The two most common methods of fastener color matching are wet paint and powder coating. Wet painted fasteners are easier to color match and they are not subject to chipping. Powder coated fasteners are subject to chipping with no way to repair that chip. Wet painted fasteners can be touched up in the field without removal.

When it comes to paint providing additional corrosion protection, it’s important to remember, adhesion is everything. Paint can only add protection if it remains on the part. 

Ask about the drilling points

Obviously, to have a fastener do its job, it’s necessary to get the fastener through the panel and into the framing. Think about it … every time you put a hole in that panel, you’re compromising the integrity of that panel. That’s why it’s important to get through the panel immediately and cleanly. 

The point of the fastener is integral to success. The development of the mini driller point has made it much easier to achieve the immediate and clean piercing of the panel, especially where there are overlaps and you’re going through multiple panels … in some cases three or four panels where you’re working on details, like the ridge cap or valleys. 

Suppliers offer a variety of fasteners with a variety of drilling points. Ask for what’s best for your job.

Ask about service

A good supplier will be able to get you what you want, when you want it, while providing you value. Working with an experienced sales staff and a company with a solid reputation within the post-frame industry goes a long way to helping you become a reputable builder.

East Coast Fasteners & Closures

East Coast Fasteners produces durable, long-lasting fasteners for all combinations of building materials and provides products to solve moisture issues like leaky gaps in roofs or sidewalls by supplying closures and pipe flashings to post-frame, residential and commercial builders across America. To learn more, call 800-558-5895 or visit RB