Using Galvanized Nails With Pressure Treated Wood

pressure treated wood stacked

Many craftsmen know the basics of using a hammer, wood, and nails. However, not many are familiar with working with specialized materials like galvanized nails with pressure-treated wood.

These special nails and wood have their own properties and work differently than normal nails and wood. Before taking on a project that uses these materials, read this article for some basic tips and tricks.

Pressure-Treated Wood Preservatives

When wood is pressure-treated, a chemical preservative is forced into it. This makes the wood less likely to rot as well as unappealing to insects and vermin, which is ideal for outside wood projects. However, this process has both pros and cons, as some chemicals used can be toxic.

Warning: Pressure-treated wood can be toxic to humans and pets. Take the appropriate safety measures when handling pressure-treated wood, including wearing safety goggles, gloves, and a mask. Also remember that pressure-treated wood is for outdoor use only.


Until 2003, the most commonly used chemical to treat lumber was chromated copper arsenate, or CCA. However, CCA is extremely toxic, and the industry has since outlawed the use of it in projects for residential use.

Existing decks and other projects constructed with CCA-treated wood pose no immediate danger. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has recommended applying a penetrating oil finish to the wood, which will lessen or even eliminate the toxin-exposure risk.

If you are using reclaimed or older wood, and you can't definitively trace back to the original manufacturer, be sure that it does not contain CCA so that you aren’t violating any residential construction codes.

ACQ and CA

Less hazardous chemicals have since replaced CCA as the common lumber-treating substance. Today, amine copper quat, or ACQ, and copper azone, or CA, are most readily found in pressure-treated wood to be used in residential projects.

It’s important to know what your wood has been treated with because this will effect your galvanized-nail choice.


Everyday nails, screws, and fasteners are made of iron or steel, which are apt to rust due to time and exposure. The process of galvanization coats the hardware in a layer of zinc oxide. This protects the metal from rust and corrosion without diminishing its integrity. One particular galvanization process, electroplating or electro-galvanization, puts a thin layer of zinc on the nail, leaving it with a smooth, shiny finish. However, hot-dipped galvanized nails have a much thicker zinc coating that prevents corrosion for longer.

Choosing the Right Nails for Your Project

Indoor Wood Projects

Because of the thinner coating of zinc oxide on electro-galvanized nails, they are the better choice for indoor projects, where they will have little exposure to corrosive materials like those found on pressure-treated wood, which should always be used outside.

Outdoor Wood Projects

For projects and constructions that will be outdoors or exposed to chemicals found in pressure-treated wood, hot-dipped galvanized nails should be used instead.

Look for the code “G185” on the hardware packaging for your nails. It indicates that there's a proper thickness level of zinc oxide on the nails to stand up to pressure-treated wood.