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Joist Hangers vs End Nailing : Complete Guide for Beginners

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Attaching joists to a ledger board is an essential step in construction. You should have a clear understanding of what is the best method of connecting the joists. 

Because this will make a significant difference in your structure’s overall strength and stability. Typically, there are two ways to attach a joist to a ledger board. 

The first method is by using joist hangers and the second method is by nailing through the joist and the ledger board. 

There are big differences between joist hangers vs end nailing. Both methods are used to construct structural frames for buildings, such as roofs, decks, floors framing, etc. 

Continue reading to learn about the distinction between joist hangers and end nailing, which will help you decide on the best method for your specific project.

Differences Between Joist Hangers vs End Nailing

nail gun

Understanding the difference between joist hangers vs end nailing is vital for making strong connections between the joists and the ledgers. Below are the most significant differences:

1. Place of Attachment

One important difference between joist hangers vs end nailing is the place of attachment. Joist hangers are actually metal brackets that attach to the joists and the ledger boards. 

Joist hangers are generally composed of a three-sided piece that encircles around the joist’s bottom, right, and left sides. 

Additionally, Joist hangers have holes to enable them to be fastened with nails. The nails are then driven through the joist and the wooden beam or ledger board. 

Conversely, end nailing is a technique that drives the nails through the rim joist and into the face-grain of the joist piece.

2. Strength and Durability

Another difference between joist hangers vs end nailing is the strength and durability. Joist hangers are more effective than end nailing because they create a stronger joist connection.

This means that joist hangers are more likely to support larger loads without causing the structure to fail. You can use joist hangers to make a strong deck’s structure.

In comparison, end nailing is not considered reliable and secure. The method is usually used for temporary connections. Thus, keep in mind these facts if you plan to use end nailing, but it is not recommended that you use this nailing technique.

3. Ease of Installation

The installation of both joist hangers and end nailing is relatively simple. However, compared to joist hangers, end nailing is easier to install. Joist brackets need to be properly aligned and then attached with nails. 

Alternatively, end nailing does not require a lot of effort, because it just needs to be driven nails through the face-grain of the joist. You will simply need a hammer or nailer and some nails in order to attach the beam to the ledger board. 

4. Material

Joist hangers are made of galvanized steel or aluminum. This makes them resistant to rust and corrosion. End nailing, on the other hand, is typically made of steel. However, they can also be made from iron, copper, aluminum, or bronze.

Different Types of Joist Hangers

too many nails

There are various types of joist hangers available on the market. A joist hanger is sized by its depth and runs about half an inch shorter than the actual joist size. 

Each type of joist hanger has its own unique characteristics, designed for different applications. Below is a list of the most common types:

1. Mini Joist Hangers

Mini joist hangers are the most commonly used type of joist hanger. They are suitable for light-duty applications such as ceiling joists, trimmers, and decking.

2. Long Leg Joist Hangers

This type of joist hanger has long legs so you can nail it through the rim joist and ledger board. It is ideal for loft conversions.

3. Wood Joist Hangers

In most cases, this particular joist hanger type is used for decking projects, but it can also be used effectively on other projects which involve the construction of wooden structures.

4. I-joist Hangers

I-joist hangers are commonly used in engineered wood. These hangers have the ability to support heavy loads.

5. 45-degree Angled Joist Hangers

Typically, this type of hanger is used to attach joists at a 45-degree angle. It is perfect for decks and roofs that have an angled design.

6. Saddle Joist Hangers

These hangers are shaped like a saddle and are used for post-frame construction. The saddle joist hangers feature a double shear nail design that increases their strength. 

7. Masonry Joist Hangers

Masonry joist hangers are designed specifically for attaching joists to masonry walls. One part is attached to the joist and the other part is nailed to the wall.

8. Concealed Joist Hangers

Concealed joist hangers are designed to be hidden from view. They are perfect for use in exposed beam ceilings and other applications where a clean appearance is desired.

9. Face Fix Joist Hangers

These joist hangers are attached to the face of the timber frame. They are perfect for heavy-duty applications. You can use them for fixing timber to timber, masonry, or concrete. 

How to Use Rim Joist Hangers?

proper toe nailing

Using joist brackets can be an effective way to ensure that your structure is sturdy and durable. It is important to know how to use them properly in order to achieve the best results. Here are the steps:

Step 01: Determine the Right Type of Joist Hanger

There are various types of joist brackets available on the market. It is important to select the right one for your project.  This will ensure that you achieve the best results with great structural integrity.

Step 02:  Mark Placement

The next step is to mark the location of the joist brackets. Use a pencil and draw lines on the ledger beam, joist, and rim joist where you need to install joist hangers. Make sure these markings are done correctly because they will indicate where the nails need to be driven through.

Step 03: Align Joist Hanger

Once the marks are in place, you need to align the hanger properly. This is important so that the bracket is straight and level.

Step 04:  Fasten with Nails

After the hanger is in place, fasten it with nails. First, drive the toe nail through the ledger board into the joist bracket. Then, attach the rim joist to the joist bracket using nails. In order to drive the nails through the deck joists and ledger board, you may wish to use hammers. 

Make sure they are securely attached. There is a risk of joist brackets detaching from the structure if the toe nail is not securely fastened.

Step 05:  Repeat the Process

If you are attaching multiple joist brackets, repeat the process until all of them are properly in place. 

Step 06:  Inspect the Installation

Lastly, inspect the entire installation. There should be no gaps between the joist and ledger beam. If you notice gaps, it means the joist bracket is not properly attached.

The Process of End Nailing

end grain

Let’s look at how to do a proper end nailing now. Applying the end nail is a simple technique that anyone can do. Here are the steps:

Step 01: Determine the Right Nail

Applying the end nailing to a joist, you need to use the right nail. Make sure it is long enough to penetrate through both the joist beams and ledger board. You don’t want the nail tip to bend or break.

Step 02: Align Joist and Ledger Board

The next step is to align the joist and ledger board accurately. This is important so that the fasteners can be driven through them correctly.

Step 03: Drive Nails

In order to drive the toe-nail, you have two options. You can use a nail gun or hammer. Whichever you use, make sure the fasteners are securely driven into the joists and ledger boards. If they are not, the connection will be weak and could fail.

Safety Precautions When Using Both Methods

Safety Precautions When Using Both Methods

When you are end-nailing or installing brackets for joists, it is important to follow certain safety precautions. Here are some of them:

1. Be Careful When Driving Nails:

When you drive nails into place, be careful not to hit yourself with the nail gun or hammer. Always be aware of your surroundings and be cautious when using these tools.

2. Put on Protective Eyewear:

It is always possible for debris to fly into your eyes when installing support joists or end fasteners. To protect yourself, always wear safety glasses.

3. Wear Gloves:

Whenever you handle fasteners, you risk accidentally pricking yourself. To avoid getting injured, wear gloves while working. This will protect your hands from sharp fasteners.

4. Use a Ladder:

It is always good to use a ladder when working on a high project. This will keep you safe and prevent you from injury.

5. Inspect the Ground for Stability:

When working, make sure the surface you are standing on is stable. If it is not, you could easily fall and get injured.

6. Work with a Partner:

If you are working on a high project or there is a risk of injury, it is always a good idea to have a partner. They can help you hold the joist and ledger board in place while you attach them. This will ensure your safety throughout the process.

7. Move Materials with Care:

Be careful when moving supplies so you don’t hurt yourself or others. If you are working with heavy materials such as wood, always use caution when handling them.

8. Maintain a Clean Work Area:

When you are finished working, make sure to clean up the area. This will prevent injuries from happening in the future.

9. Keep The Children Away:

If there are children in the house, keeping them away from the work area is important. Accidents could happen if they interfere with your work. This step will also prevent injuries.

10. Don’t Rush:

When performing this type of project, rushing can lead to serious injury and accidents. Be patient and don’t rush through the work.

11. Keep Your Tools in a Safe Place:

After you are finished working, make sure to put your tools away in a safe place. This will prevent anyone from getting injured.

Joist Hangers vs End Nailing: Which is Better?

double shear

Now that we have looked at both techniques, it is time to decide which one is better.  Joist brackets create a stronger connection, which is safe and secure. They are also capable of withstanding heavy loads. Using the joist bracket is approved by building codes which is why they are more effective. The structural integrity of your project will be improved as well.

In contrast, end nailing can lead to a weakened joist connection. It is not considered a reliable technique and it does not create a strong bond between the two materials. Building codes do not approve end nailing, so it is risky. 

You will be making a stronger joist connection, which will prevent injuries from happening. Consequently, it is obvious that the use of joist hangers would be more effective and better than end nailing. So, next time you are working on a roof or deck construction project, make sure to use joist brackets instead of nailing.


There are many questions that people have about joist hangers and end nailing. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

Do Joist Hangers Have a Greater Strength Than End and Toe Nailing?

Yes, joist hangers do have greater strength than the end and toe-nailing. This is because they are specially designed to connect joists and deck boards together. End-nailing is not as secure and can easily bend or break.

Which is Better for Joist Hangers, Nails, or Screws?

Nails are more effective than joist hanger screws. This is because they create stronger joist connections and they are easier to use. Screws can strip the wood and cause damage, which is why they are not recommended.

What Size Nails Should be Used on Joist Hangers?

The size of nails you use on joist hangers will depend on the type of bracket you are using.  To attach standard-type single-joist hangers to the sides of the deck joist, you should use 1-1/2-inch joist hanger nails. Also, it is recommended to use 8d or 10d nails on double brackets.

When is End Nailing Used?

End nailing is not a common technique used to attach joists and ledger boards. In a majority of cases, it is done as a temporary fix or for additional support with a joist hanger. 

Do Joist Hangers Work as Toe-Nailing?

Yes, you can use joist hangers as toe-nailing. Toe-nailing refers to the practice of driving toe nails at an angle into the end of a piece of lumber. This can provide additional support and strength. 


After looking at the differences between joist hangers vs end nailing, it should be apparent to you which method is appropriate for your project. It is also obvious to you how to use both methods. Hopefully, you can now use the most effective and safe method for your next decking or roofing project.

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