What's the Difference Between Screw Studs & YKK® SNAD® Fasteners?

SKU: X-HT-300212



Whether you’re making a dodger, boat cover or window shade, snap fasteners are an essential part of your canvaswork project. When you need a snap stud base for a cloth-to-surface application, there are two options on the market. You can use a standard screw stud and drill a hole into the surface of your boat, RV, home or wherever you’re installing the fastener, or your other option is to use a YKK® SNAD® fastener that adheres to the surface with an adhesive so there is no hole created. Both options have their pros and cons; one is not necessarily better than the other. So let’s explore these two products and figure out which choice is best for your fastener application needs.

First, let’s go over the basic differences between screw studs and SNADs and what sets them apart. Screw studs screw into the surface of the application area. Screw studs are the stud part of a fastener set usually made up of three pieces: the button, socket and stud. SNADs are adhesive-backed fasteners that replace the screw stud in a fastener set and enable you to use snap fasteners without having to drill a hole. They are backed with 3M™ VHB™ (Very High Bond) high-performance, double-sided tape.

SNADs are a great option if you are concerned about putting small holes in your boat or RV, or if your cover application is only temporary. They’re also useful for marine carpeting, cushions and seating. You can also use SNADs to replace existing screw studs without needing to fill in the screw hole. Use SNADs when installing window shades on your boat, RV or skylight in your home. They’re recommended for glass, metal and fiberglass surfaces. They can also be used on varnished or painted wood, but not untreated wood. We recommend using a plastic SNAD wherever possible on flat surfaces. Plastic SNADs are not suitable for curved or uneven surfaces; in these instances, silicone SNADs should be used instead. We also strongly recommend that you use 3M™ Tape Primer 94 Adhesive Promoter before installing the SNADs. Using the primer will result in the best adhesion results over a long period of time.

Screw studs are available in 100% stainless steel or nickel-plated brass. They are recommended for use in wood, fiberglass and metal surfaces depending on the type of screw stud, making them ideal for boat covers, cushions, dodgers and other applications. They’re also available in a variety of screw lengths to accommodate the thickness of the surface area where you're installing the screws.

The biggest plus of using SNADs is that you do not have to drill a hole or use any extra tools to install them. This makes them great for non-permanent uses. They’re also easy to remove and won't damage the application area, but they are not reusable so if you adhere one in the wrong location, you'll have to remove it and apply a new SNAD in the correct spot. There are two varieties of SNADs. The SNADs with a stainless steel stud and flexible silicone body are ideal for adhering to curved surfaces such as steel tubing. Plastic domed SNADs won’t snag clothing or fabric and can be walked or sat on without causing pain. SNADs will not deteriorate from exposure to the sun, sand or dirt and since the studs are stainless steel, they are unlikely to corrode. 

Unlike SNADs, the very small surface area of a screw stud means that you can install them in spaces where you might not be able to fit a SNAD. Screw studs are stronger and more dependable; they are a mechanical fastener and have a more positive, better hold than SNADs. Screw studs come in both wood screws and machine screws so you can be sure to find one that will meet your needs.

The convenience of not having to drill a hole for the SNAD fasteners is slightly diminished by the fact that SNADs are only compatible with Ligne 24 snap fasteners, limiting the kind of button they can be used with. The wider base of SNADs, compared to screw studs, might limit the areas where they can be placed. Even though SNADs don’t require any tools to install them, it’s highly recommended that you use some preparatory products before applying the SNADs to prolong their life span and strengthen their bond to your surface material. These extra products will add to the cost involved in using SNADs in your cloth-to-surface application. Though SNADs won't corrode in the sun, the plastic will fail faster than stainless steel screw studs, and SNADs don't work well with snap release tools. Lastly, SNADs require up to 72 hours to fully cure before any weight or pressure can be applied to them, meaning you will not be able to use them right away.

One of the disadvantages of using screw studs is that drilling a hole into your boat, home or RV is permanent. If you measure incorrectly and drill in the wrong spot, patching holes and drilling again is frustrating and time-consuming. Using screw studs involves extra tools that SNADs do not require. You’ll need a drill, a drill bit the appropriate size and a screwdriver to screw the stud into place. The raised surface created by a screw stud could potentially snag rope or clothing or stub a toe if you’re not careful. It’s also recommended to use butyl tape when bedding the screw to seal and waterproof the area, adding time and cost to the project. Screw studs cannot be drilled into glass, and the metal studs can corrode over time especially when exposed to high amounts of sun and saltwater.

Screw studs and SNADs are both excellent products for cloth-to-surface fastener applications. They each have specific benefits and drawbacks, so you need to consider how you’re going to use them, where the screw studs or SNADs would be placed and the amount of available surface area, whether your installation will be permanent or temporary, and what type of fastener you need. Once you’ve answered these questions, it should be easy to pick whether a screw stud or SNAD is the best choice for your project. And if you still can’t decide, we’re always happy to help answer any questions you may have.

What’s your experience with screw studs and SNADs? Do you prefer one over the other? We’d love to get a discussion going in the comments section below!