Don’t just grab any nail when you build a residential cedar fence, even if you expect it will never see rain. Most nails, such as galvanized nails, will eventually rust when exposed to moisture due a combination of zinc and cedar. Cedar has a natural occurring chemical in it that reacts with zinc and eats through the commercial cedar fence. The same natural chemical in cedar wards off termites and all bugs, so it is important to use the right nails to keep this natural chemical going. Unfortunately, paint won’t prevent rust from the nails either; in a couple of years the rusty nail head will bleed through the topcoat. The solution is to use stainless steel nails on every cedar fence. Although, stainless steel nails can be up to 3 to 4 times more costly, it will end up saving you money in the end.
Though galvanized nails and stainless steel nails are both “steel”, they are very different materials from each other. Knowing the difference is important, especially when given the choice which material to use when tackling a home improvement or construction project. Galvanized steel is an excellent choice in most situations where water exposure may occur, but it tends to perform poorly when exposed to salt water. The salt renders the zinc coating ineffective and will ultimately result in a rusted product. The reason why galvanized nails creates rust on cedar fences is because of the zinc.
Stainless steel is an effective material for use in cedar fences and even marine environments. It resists rust and holds up well in wet and salty environments. So when shopping for which type of nail to use on your cedar fence, make sure you choose stainless steel to avoid rust on your new fence. Below is an example of galvanized nails that has rusted parts of a cedar fence.