If you’re planning to build or currently working on your joist connection project, you might’ve already come across the three popular structural fastening methods: Joist hangers, End-nailing, and Toe-nailing.

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Joist hangers, end-nailing, and toe-nailing are joist connection methods used to fasten the joists to the ledger board. All three are used to secure two beams together to provide a stable and sturdy structure to handle a heavy load.

Deciding which one between joist hangers, end nailing, and toe-nailing is suitable for your project, it’s crucial to know the relevant information, including the differences between the three.

Below is the comparison between the three joist connection methods to help you know which one is the best method for your joist connection project.

What Are Joist Hangers?

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Joist hangers are metal fixtures or galvanized metal brackets designed to connect and support the weight of the joists, wooden beams, or rafters surrounding the framing systems. They are commonly made of aluminum, steel, or galvanized steel to anchor the ceilings, floors, and decks to the framing system by fastening the joists or beams to the rim joists and ledger boards.

Joist hangers are primarily used in ceilings, roofs, floors, and deckings to create strong, long-lasting support. They are often utilized in construction or building projects to ensure increased strength, safety, and stability for the structural components and entire structure for ease of completion. 

However, joist hangers are not required in building construction. But you may use them if desired for a better and stronger build support system. They are also often used when required by a professional to pass the inspection of a building project. It’s also best to use joist hangers if the joists are not supported on a wall or on top of a beam. Moreover, requirement of joist hangers for a building project may vary, depending on the local building code for different locations.

In addition, joist hangers come in various sizes, shapes, and types. The most common joist hanger types include Mini Joist hangers, I-Joist hangers, Long Leg Joist hangers, Concealed Flange Joist Hangers, Face Fix Joist hangers, Saddle Joist Hangers, Masonry Return Joist Hangers, Masonry Joist hangers, and Welded Masonry Joist Hangers.

What Is End Nailing?

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End-nailing is a joist connection method done by hammering a nail or screw through a rim joist or the ledger board into the face-grain or end grain of another plank or joist piece to connect the two pieces of lumber together. This type of attachment method is the most basic nailing technique but is not recommended for long-term or permanent purposes. 

End-nailing is often only used as a temporary hold or support on a lightweight building project since the two framing members are only held together by nails, which is not a sturdy securing component. 

Moreover, end-nailing is often temporarily used when working on a roofing job or decking to connect the joist to a framing member while waiting for a more stable connection solution.

What Is Toe Nailing?

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Toenailing, also known as skew-nailing, is a carpentry method done by driving a nail diagonally, roughly at a 45-degree angle, through the vertical face of the joist and into a rim joist or ledger board behind it. The driven nails must be at least 1 ¾” deep into the nailed wood piece. 

This technique is commonly used to fasten two wood pieces together that are perpendicular to each other, producing a stronger joint that makes dismantling more difficult. It may also provide a similar holding force level as joist hangers when done correctly. Toe-nailing is often used in framing projects, roof construction, flooring, and decking.

Moreover, using toe-nailing requires a proper quantity of nails per side to ensure the adequate structural integrity of the joist. It’s best to use 12d toe nails on each side, especially if you’re using a wood piece with a measurement of 2×8″.

Joist Hangers vs End Nailing Comparison

Joist hangers and end-nailing are both joist connection techniques. Both can also be used to fasten the joist to the rim joists or ledger board, but the difference between them is evident.

Joist hangers use metal brackets to connect a joist to a rim joist or ledger board and keep the two wood beams together while end-nailing drives a nail or a screw through the face-grain of a joist and into a ledger board.

Joist hangers create a strong holding force and connections due to their metal brackets, making them ideal for long-term attachment solutions. They are also often approved and required by most building inspections.

On the other hand, end-nailing creates a weaker connection or holding force as it uses only nails or screws to join two wooden beams together, making it used for temporary solutions. This type of method is also not considered safe and is often not approved structural fastening by building inspections as an approved joist connection technique.

Joist Hangers vs Toe Nailing Comparison

The building codes allow both joist hangers and toe-nailing for structural fastening. Joist hangers provide a joist connection, while toe-nailing offers similar holding force as long as the nail is in the correct size.

The major difference between the two is the level of accuracy, stability, and strength. Joist hangers are way more precise than toe-nailing, ensuring all joists are perfectly aligned when installed. It also allows more accurate placement of joists in the ledger board of the wall. 

On the other hand, toe nailing may provide a similar holding force. Still, the nails tend to pull to the opposite side when installed because of the force. It forces the application of nails from both sides and back and forth until the joists are appropriately aligned.

In addition, installing toe nailing is much cheaper than joist hangers, but overall, the durability and accuracy of joist hangers make up for the expense, making them a better choice.

Joist Hangers or Nailing For Framing Decks?

Joist hangers are preferable for framing decks, as they provide far more strong joist support than nails. It also allows a simpler installation or application process while providing a stable and robust deck joist. In addition, joist hangers also offer stronger support to handle a large load than nails. Finally, they can also be used to enhance the outdoor space as decorative detail pieces.

Using nails for framing decks is not recommended, especially if you’re using the end-nailing technique. It’s not fit and approved as a structural fastening by building codes because it’s not strong enough to support the joists and handle a large load.

Joist Hangers or Nailing For Sloped or Angled Rafters?

Both joist hangers and nailing can be used for sloped or angled rafters. For joist hangers, it’s best to use angled or skewed joist hangers, as these are usually bent to a certain angle and degree. However, if you prefer a cheaper method, you may opt for toe–nailing method for sloped or angled rafters, as it can also provide a similar holding force and support.

Are Joist Hangers Crucial?

Joist hangers are crucial elements, especially if you need your building to be approved by building codes and structural engineers. Using them will ensure a strong and stable structural connection to a building while allowing support to handle and sustain a heavy load.

Installing joist hangers for any project like decking, flooring, or roofing will prevent unfortunate casualties and frequent repair work.

Should You Nail or Screw Joist Hangers?

You can use both nails or screws with joist hangers, but you have to remember a few considerations to ensure a proper and safe installation.

For nails, you can use standard nails but ensure you’re using 10d, 12d, or 16d standard nails to fasten a joist hanger for interior framing. For outdoors and double joist hangers, it’s best to use 16d standard, stainless steel, or double-dipped galvanized nails.

When using screws, remember that standard, drywall, or galvanized deck screws are not recommended for installing joist hangers, as they’re not strong enough to support the heavy joist loads.

You may only use structural screws that manufacturers and compatible with joist hangers specifically design. Specialized structural screws for joist hangers can accurately fasten and align the joists while maintaining the heavy load.

Can I Use a Nail Gun with Joist Hangers?

You cannot use a common nail gun with joist hangers, as they are not strong enough for installing joist hangers.

However, you may use a joist hanger nail gun or nail guns with exposed nail tips instead. They will provide a more thorough and easier nailing job with joist hangers. Using a joist hanger nail gun will also help save you time and cost in the installation process.

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Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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