DIY Backyard Obstacles: Don't skimp on the hardware.

The little things can make a big difference. I'm gonna give you some tips, for when you're building a backyard obstacle or ninja course, about some hardware, in particular, screws and lags. Before I get into what I like to use when building obstacles, I want to go over what you shouldn't be using and the reasons behind it.

First, use screws, not nails when building. Because screws are threaded, they hold better in wood and draw boards together much more tightly. For obstacles, that is what you are looking for, plus, if you move to some cool new house, you don't want to have to burn obstacles because you can't take them apart because you used nails. Just saying...

When working with pressure treated wood and metal fasteners, you need to be aware of how they can react with each other and how they will do over time, especially when you're building something outdoors. For example, you'll find hardware coated with zinc. They are typically the cheapest in price, but they will corrode with a quickness when in contact with the elements and pressure treated wood. You need to do a hard pass on those. Stainless, galvanized, or specially coated fasteners which are corrosion resistant and designed for use with pressure treated wood, is the way to go.

Another thing you want to factor in is the shear strength, or the load bearing weight of the hardware you're using. You can use galvanized lag bolts, which work great, but you have to pre-drill holes before you crank them in. If you don't, you probably won't even be able to get them started in the wood, and if you do, they'll just split the wood. Me? I like to use construction lag screws. Not only are they made from hardened steel, but they are also a smaller diameter with the same shear strength as a larger diameter lag bolt! Even better? They are self drilling, so you don't have to pre-drill anything when you are using them... unlike the lag bolts. When you're building something that's going to have a high exposure to outdoor elements and stress, such as a backyard rig, I wouldn't skimp on the hardware you use. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to have to build something twice because it fell apart, or Lord forbid, someone gets hurt because I tried to go cheap. NOT HAPPENING WITH THIS GUY.

I personally prefer to use the GRK Lag Screws. However, you can use SPAX Powerlags or something similar. They're strong, have an extra weatherproof coating, built in washer-head, designed to be used with pressure treated wood, and you basically don't have to worry about stripping them out or splitting the wood.

If I can say anything that you might listen to, remember this. There is a difference between inexpensive and cheap. Yes, you can absolutely find products that are cheaper than the hardware I mentioned above. But in two years, when everything has corroded and is rusting and falling apart, and you have to rebuild it or set it on fire because it isn't worth keeping around, you'll have to ask yourself if you went the inexpensive route, or the cheap route. Don't be cheap. Build things to last. Build them to be safe. Spend that extra $20 bucks and don't worry about it for 10 years. Like I tell everybody I build for, I build ALL my stuff so that I would let my wife and kiddos play on it. (Me? I am sketchy beyond belief, and I would totally try to traverse across a board attached with staples on a tree fifteen feet above the ground...I just don't build for my family or other people like that. Okay, okay... that's not actually true. I like to party, but not that much.) Soooooo, do it right the first time. You'll never regret it.

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