Choosing between Cortex Plug and Clip System for a deck project

Plug System

You are ready to build a new deck or recover your existing deck with Composite decking. That is so exciting because composite material has come a long way since its first generation.

Today, you have more choices and options, like railings, lights, trim, custom benches, shelves, storage, etc. You can also choose how the decking is installed.

Two popular choices are the Cortex Hidden Fastening System or the Clip System with Grooved Boards.

A hidden fastener system is a fast and easy way to hide deck screw heads when replacing a deck board. It creates a clean and smooth look for your deck.

How do you know which one will be best for you? Let’s look at some pros and cons to help you decide.

Cortex Hidden Fastening System

A screw and plug system


  • The hidden fastener system is almost impossible to strip out.
  • Is strong.
  • It has matching plugs, so no holes are visible in the deck boards.
  • Available in most of the popular manufacturers and colors.
  • It blends in with the deck boards; you can hardly see it without looking for it.
  • Easier to remove and replace a single board over the clip system if necessary.


  • It requires a special bit and special screws.
  • Not available for all decking products.
  • If you are looking, you will notice the plugs.

Clip System with Grooved Boards

Also known as Concealoc, a clip system is typically used in pre-grooved deck boards


  • Stainless steel screws.
  • Approved for saltwater applications and chemically treated lumber.
  • It helps reduce wood splitting, wood rot, and board cupping.
  • Comes with a 25-year warranty.
  • It can be combined with the Cortex system for a completely fastener-free surface.
  • Available for use with many major brands of decking.


  • You will still need another fastener system for certain deck areas or intricate designs and stairs.
  • Harder to replace a single board if needed than with the Cortex system.
  • You need a special slot cutter for the installation of the stainless-steel screw.
  • If looking hard you will be able to see it.

In Conclusion:

Composite decks have many features and will look great for a long time, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor living space free of worry from splinters and lots of maintenance. Deciding how you want it installed is just another great benefit option.

Our team has been working with families like yours for over 60 years and it is important to us that everyone works together to create the best possible remodeling experience. We never want to see someone regret the choice they made because they did not have all their options.

Craig Guido

With 20 years of remodeling experience both in the field and working in collaboration with homeowners to develop remodeling projects designed to fit your lifestyle.