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Understanding the Differences Between Clavos and Screws

No matter what your construction or DIY project consists of, specific fastener options can make or break the final product. 

Knowing what fastener options are available and ideal for your needs is crucial in a successful construction or DIY project outcome.

Two popular fastener options include clavos and screws, with each hardware option having dynamic histories and serving different purposes.

Check out our ultimate guide to help you understand the differences between clavos and screws and make an informed decision for your next project.

Historical Background

The Story of Clavos

Clavos have roots deeply embedded in Hispanic cultures, and they are more than just fasteners. 

Clavos were used extensively in colonial architecture, especially in the Americas, and this hardware became synonymous with the robust and ornate doors of churches, homes, and forts. 

Their decorative heads, often blending indigenous and Spanish designs, told tales of cultures merging and evolving.

In the early days, they were hand-forged, making each clavo unique. Their rustic appearance wasn't just for show; it was a testament to the craftsmanship of the blacksmiths of the era. 

At Wild West Hardware, we value authenticity with our hardware, and many of our available clavos are also handcrafted by blacksmiths.

The Journey of Screws

The history ofscrews is a journey through time and innovation. They have come a long way, starting as simple wooden screws used in wine presses in ancient Greece. 

The Romans adopted and improved upon this design, using it in various machinery and olive oil presses. 

However, during the Renaissance, the design of screws began to standardize, thanks to the advent of screw-cutting lathes. 

As industries grew, so did the demand for a fastener that could hold things together securely, leading to the modern-day metal screw. 

Today, screws are found in everything from eyeglasses to skyscrapers, a testament to their versatility and importance.

Key Differences Between Clavos and Screws

Material and Manufacturing

Clavos are traditionally made of iron or steel, giving them a distinct rustic appearance. 

Their hand-forged nature means that each clavo carries a touch of individual craftsmanship, a nod to an era where each piece was made with care.

Screws, however, are manufactured using various materials, including steel, brass, and zinc.

Modern manufacturing processes ensure that screws are made to precise specifications, ensuring consistency and reliability.

Design Elements

Thread Design

Clavos, being akin to nails, generally have a smooth body. Their primary purpose is to be hammered into a surface, relying on friction to hold them in place.

Screws are designed with threads that grip and hold materials together securely. 

The spiraled design means that as a screw is turned, it draws materials closer together, providing a tight bond.

Head Variations

Clavos often feature decorative heads, which can beround,pyramid-shaped, or evenornate, adding an aesthetic touch to their functional purpose.


Screws come with a variety of head designs tailored to specific applications. This includes flat heads, Phillipspan head, slotted, lag, and more.


Each head design corresponds to a particular driver or tool, ensuring a secure fit during installation.

Common Uses of Clavos and Screws

Clavos in Architectural Designs

Clavos can be hammered into doors for decorative purposes.

Clavos have been a staple in architectural designs, especially within Hispanic and colonial styles. 

Their rustic and hand-forged appearance makes them popular for embellishing doors, gates, and furniture. 

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, clavos are also used to reinforce joints or to provide additional strength to wooden structures. 

In restoration projects, especially those aiming to preserve historical accuracy, clavos are often preferred to maintain the authentic look and feel of the era, such as Old World or hammered.


Screws in Everyday Life

The versatility of screws is unparalleled. 

In construction, they're used to join materials, from wooden planks in flooring to metal beams in skyscrapers. 

In electronics, tiny screws hold together our phones, laptops, and other gadgets. 

In furniture assembly, screws ensure that our chairs, tables, and cabinets are sturdy and durable. 

Their adaptability to various materials and applications and their holding power make screws essential in professional and DIY projects.

Pros and Cons of Clavos and Screws

Pros of Clavos

Aesthetic Versatility

Clavos can transform a simple piece of furniture or door into a work of art, adding character and charm.

Historical Authenticity

For restoration projects or designs aiming to capture a bygone era, clavos offer an authentic touch.


Being typically made of iron or steel, clavos can last for years, mainly when used in interior applications.

Pros of Screws

Holding Power

The threaded design of screws ensures a tight bond, making them ideal for applications requiring strength.


Screws come in a range of sizes and materials, making them suitable for most projects.

Simple Installation

Installing screws is a DIY-friendly process with the help of screwdrivers and other easy-to-find tools.

Cons of Clavos

Limited Holding Power

Unlike screws, clavos rely on friction, which might not be as secure in specific applications.

Potential for Rust

If not treated or made from rust-resistant materials, clavos can corrode over time.

Cons of Screws

Stripping Potential

If not installed correctly or subjected to excessive force, screws can strip, making them difficult to remove.

Patching Potential

Screws leave holes in the surfaces they are drilled or screwed into. If you remove screws from your walls, the holes may need to be patched.

Pro Tip

If you want to combine the best of both worlds, check out ourclavo screws!


Stainless Steel Clavo Screws


Final Words

Both types of hardware have unique places in construction and design, and understanding the differences between clavos and screws will make taking on your next project more manageable. 

While clavos add a touch of history and aesthetics, screws provide versatility and strength. When choosing between the two, consider the project's needs and which fastener best suits it.

Shop Wild West Hardware to place your order today!