Last edited 05 Aug 2020

Fixing v fastener

Window latch-pixabay 640.jpg
A latch to fasten the window in position.

Fixings are designed to attach objects to surfaces such as walls, floors, roofs, doors, holding them in place, usually on a permanent basis. They are a form of connector and play an indispensable role in construction. Usually a fixing is key to attach a component to one that is larger or immovable, such as fixing a cupboard to a wall, or a handle to a door, or a timber joist to a wall plate. These instances will require the use of fixings such as screws, plugs, bolts and nails.

In contrast, fasteners tend to be for holding things together, often of a similar nature, and of a smaller- or lighter-scale. In stationary, examples of this would be paper clips and staplers, which are fasteners and hold together sheets of paper – but they are not said to ‘fix’ them together.

In construction, staples from a staple gun can fasten sheathing to timber studs. Window latches are fasteners (not fixings) as they fasten a window for security but can be adjusted for opening. If the doors and windows were fixed in place, they would not be able to open.

Whether something is a fixing or fastener is not always clear as it can depend on the application and also on the way speech is used: a nail can be used to fix fence boards to posts, but it can also fasten a joist into a joist hanger. Yet others may maintain that the joist is ‘fixed’ into position by the nail. Depending on the interpretation, the nail in this example is both a fixing and a fastener.

The word 'fixing' can also be used to describe the physical process of fixing one thing to another or to the process of repairing something.

NB A fixture is '...an asset that is installed or otherwise fixed in or to a building or land so as to become part of that building or land in law’ (for example, a boiler)'. Ref HMRC

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