When building a deck, one of the most important considerations is how to fasten the decking boards to the joists. Traditionally, deck builders have used screws or nails to attach the boards to the joists, but more recently, a new method has become increasingly popular: hidden fasteners. And when it comes to hidden fasteners, grooving wood is the way to go.

Grooving wood for hidden fasteners involves milling a channel into the side of each decking board, into which a fastener is inserted. One of the most popular hidden fasteners is the Ipe Clip, designed specifically for grooved decking use. The Ipe Clip is a small metal and plastic bracket that fits into the groove in the decking board and is then screwed into the joist.

Some companies refer to this process as “grooving,” while others call it “pre-grooving”, but it’s all the same. The point is that the grooving process allows for a much cleaner and more attractive deck surface. Because the fasteners are hidden, no screws or nails are visible on the deck’s surface, which creates a much smoother and more uniform appearance.

But grooving wood for hidden fasteners is different from “tongue and groove”, which is a method of joining boards for use in applications such as ceilings, soffits, or porch flooring. Tongue and groove boards have a groove cut into one side and a protruding tongue on the other, which fits into the groove of the adjacent board. This creates a tight, interlocking joint that is very strong and durable.

Grooving wood for hidden fasteners is different because the groove is cut into both sides of the board, and there is no tongue on any side. This allows the board to be fastened to the joist without any visible fasteners, while still maintaining a uniform surface appearance.

There are several advantages to using hidden fasteners and grooved decking. First and foremost, it creates a much more attractive deck surface. With no visible fasteners, the surface of the deck is much smoother and more uniform, which is not only more aesthetically pleasing but also safer. With no screws or nails protruding from the surface, there is less chance of anyone tripping or catching a foot on a fastener.

Hidden fasteners also make the deck easier to maintain. With no visible fasteners, there are no spaces for dirt and debris to collect, making it easier to keep the deck surface clean. And because the fasteners are hidden, there is less chance of them becoming damaged or corroded over time, which can compromise the structural integrity of the deck.

So grooving wood for hidden fasteners is a great option for anyone building a deck. It creates a smoother, more uniform surface that is safer and more attractive than traditional fastening methods. And while it is often confused with tongue and groove, it is actually a different process that is specifically designed for use with decking boards. So if you’re planning to build a deck, consider using hidden fasteners and grooved decking for a cleaner, more attractive finish.