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Old 07-11-2016, 07:22 PM   #1
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Have you had this problem?

I'm doing some research. I'm looking to see if people have had problems with wood joints or surfaces that were attached using staples coming apart. Using staples instead of screws appears to be common practice among RV makers and I'm wondering if it should be regarded as an acceptable "shortcut" or not.

There may be many applications where staples and glue are perfectly satisfactory but others where the additional strength provided by threaded screws would be advantageous. My thinking is that if there is no evidence of stapled surfaces separating then there is probably no need to be concerned.

For RVs, subjected to the stresses of the road as they are, I suspect that over time staples would be more prone to work themselves free than screws. I know there may be a number of variables here including the type and hardness of woods and types and sizes of staples and screws.

I would really like to hear from people that have had separation issues and whether the attached surfaces had been stapled or screwed together. I'd appreciate it very much if we could all try to stay on point and avoid thread creep into other subject areas. Thanks!
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:38 PM   #2
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Russ, I have had two factory new RVs. Behind the good looking surface are wood members stapled together with no glue. In the places they did use screws the wood is split because they do not drill pilot holes. The workmanship is horrible since they assemble things too fast. It doesn't effect sales since the buyer cannot see these issues without disassembling things. To your point - I have not noticed the staples being any worse than the split wood with a screw.

What I do is take several days removing all the drawers and doors to inspect and replace screws that were stripped by using power tools. Most of the drawer glides need to be repositioned to fit the drawers square with the cabinet faces. While I'm in there I check plumbing etc.

Fortunately, what the factory does has been repairable resulting in a quality product. Unfortunately, some people inherit a coach with issues that the owner cannot fix.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jones47172 View Post
Russ, I have had two factory new RVs. Behind the good looking surface are wood members stapled together with no glue. In the places they did use screws the wood is split because they do not drill pilot holes. The workmanship is horrible since they assemble things too fast. It doesn't effect sales since the buyer cannot see these issues without disassembling things. To your point - I have not noticed the staples being any worse than the split wood with a screw.

What I do is take several days removing all the drawers and doors to inspect and replace screws that were stripped by using power tools. Most of the drawer glides need to be repositioned to fit the drawers square with the cabinet faces. While I'm in there I check plumbing etc.

Fortunately, what the factory does has been repairable resulting in a quality product. Unfortunately, some people inherit a coach with issues that the owner cannot fix.
Thanks for that.

Yes, I'm aware that improperly set screws can split wood or strip. I think not only is work done too fast but I'm concerned it is often done improperly, hence this survey.

I'm concerned about all places where wood joints exist in RVs but more concerned about places that aren't easily accessible: in the walls or roof, for example.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:11 PM   #4
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I work in the furniture manufacturing industry and its rare to see a coated finish nail or staple pull out. When two pieces separate , most of the time the head pulls through piece being attached. Screws do not work well in any of the engineered lumbers even when pilot holes are pre drilled. The act of screwing the threads into the engineered wood destroys the integrity of the materiel. A pin nail or staple is coated with a glue/ varnish that softens from the friction of being driven into the wood materiel and essentially glues it in the materiel. If nails or staples are backing out, it most likely means it didn't hit what it was supposed to. Screws work very good in real sawn lumber because the wood fibers will expand and contract around the threads. All engineered lumbers are constructed under high pressure making them hard but more brittle than natural wood thus the damage caused by forcing a screw into it.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:23 PM   #5
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Just a small contribution - we just in the last few days, disassembled the dinette in a '97 Keystone Sprinter. I can tell you from my experience, that the staples and nails made joints and junctions just as difficult to remove, as the screw connections. I'm very definitely impressed with the quality of that build.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:24 PM   #6
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Ideally, a screw, nail, or staple is just supposed to be used as a clamp until the glue dries. No glue, no joint.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger G View Post
I work in the furniture manufacturing industry and its rare to see a coated finish nail or staple pull out. When two pieces separate , most of the time the head pulls through piece being attached. Screws do not work well in any of the engineered lumbers even when pilot holes are pre drilled. The act of screwing the threads into the engineered wood destroys the integrity of the materiel. A pin nail or staple is coated with a glue/ varnish that softens from the friction of being driven into the wood materiel and essentially glues it in the materiel. If nails or staples are backing out, it most likely means it didn't hit what it was supposed to. Screws work very good in real sawn lumber because the wood fibers will expand and contract around the threads. All engineered lumbers are constructed under high pressure making them hard but more brittle than natural wood thus the damage caused by forcing a screw into it.
That's really interesting information. Thanks. Can we zero in on this a little more, please?

You refer to "engineered lumbers". That sounds like things such as particle board. You also refer to "real sawn lumber" which as a layperson I would probably call, well, lumber

I suspect that in regard to the major structural elements of RVs such as the walls and roofs that wood is used for the framing and attached either to other wood members, sometimes plywood and sometimes engineered materials. When I wrote my original post I guess I was thinking more about the major structural elements of an RV rather than the cabinetry where it may be more likely that engineered materials are used.

Still, it's good to know about the things you explained above. If I can ask you though, in terms of constructing a roof, floor or wall for an RV where lumber is attached to lumber--and I stress "RV" which may be different than a stationary piece of furniture in terms of the frequency and severity of loads placed on the joints over long periods of time--would you think that wood screws would be a better choice than staples?

When attaching lumber to plywood or particle board it sounds like staples may be better if I understand you correctly.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by W4MBG View Post
Ideally, a screw, nail, or staple is just supposed to be used as a clamp until the glue dries. No glue, no joint.
Yes, I've heard this, but wouldn't screws provide better pressure in order to hold surfaces together while the glue dries thereby providing a better joint?

Also, I've heard of nails and staples woking themselves out over time. I'm not sure if that is a problem only with joints that haven't been glued. Maybe I'm using the term joint improperly, but I don't know what else to call it.

Can moisture weaken a glue joint and if so might screws provide more strength than staples in such cases?
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:25 PM   #9
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The statement that the staples are just there to hold the pieces together until the glue dries is a common and somewhat true statement in the furniture industry. The problem with a glue joint is that it has no give or memory, its good or bad, there is no in between. Have you ever moved a couch or chair and sat it down awkwardly on a corner and heard a crack? That's not wood breaking, it's the glue joint giving way. Your couch didn't fall apart because the staples were still holding the pieces together. A screw joint is similar to a glue joint, it's all or nothing, once the wood fibers around the threads gives way, it's gone.
The subfloor of every RV that I have personally seen used OSB for the sub floor. OSB, Oriented Strand Board, is large wood chips, most likely pine, compressed under high heat and high pressure. It is very hard and brittle thus screws do not hold well especially under movement and shifting loads. A staple has a lower tinsel strength thus is more forgiving to movement and shifting. I would think that a pneumatic staple or pin nail would be better than a wood screw. A bolt going through both pieces with washers on both ends and a nut tightened would be the best joint.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:38 PM   #10
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Not all manufacturers use staples. Our Newmar didn't. It was extremely well constructed. It's not mass-produced like some are. Care is taken in building.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger G View Post
The statement that the staples are just there to hold the pieces together until the glue dries is a common and somewhat true statement in the furniture industry. The problem with a glue joint is that it has no give or memory, its good or bad, there is no in between. Have you ever moved a couch or chair and sat it down awkwardly on a corner and heard a crack? That's not wood breaking, it's the glue joint giving way. Your couch didn't fall apart because the staples were still holding the pieces together. A screw joint is similar to a glue joint, it's all or nothing, once the wood fibers around the threads gives way, it's gone.
The subfloor of every RV that I have personally seen used OSB for the sub floor. OSB, Oriented Strand Board, is large wood chips, most likely pine, compressed under high heat and high pressure. It is very hard and brittle thus screws do not hold well especially under movement and shifting loads. A staple has a lower tinsel strength thus is more forgiving to movement and shifting. I would think that a pneumatic staple or pin nail would be better than a wood screw. A bolt going through both pieces with washers on both ends and a nut tightened would be the best joint.
Thanks for that.

The 5th wheel I'm most likely to purchase, so far anyway, is an Arctic Fox product, the 29-5t. The flooiring is tongue and groove plywood, not OSB. Would screws or staples be better in this case? Is that enough information to tell or would there be other tings that should be considered before reaching a determination?

So far in this thread it deosn't seem as if anybody has had problems with joint breakdown or separation. Just mentioning it again here because this is of keen interest to me.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:46 PM   #12
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Slightly off topic but still about screws. Have you noticed the screws backing out of drywall? If they can back out of drywall in a stationary box how do they perform in a box that shakes at 3.5?
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:50 PM   #13
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Most of the joints I have seen in RV framing that are stapled are just butt joints. If they were a proper joint then glue would be beneficial. I don't think glue would do alot on a butt joint.
Butt joints and staples are the fastest and cheapest way to frame an RV. Right or wrong that's what you get for the big buck they sell for.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:45 PM   #14
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A staple has a lower tinsel strength thus is more forgiving to movement.


Not sure about the above statement. I can verify the strength of our tinsel during the Holiday Season.


Even our Country Coach has staples in it, a lot of them in areas, but there is lots of glue too.
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