The Ultimate Guide to Roofing Nails

The Ultimate Guide to Roofing Nails

Think of roofing nails as the glue that sticks the essential materials on your roof together. You wouldn’t have a stable roof without nails. Additionally, nails are excellent for sealing the gaps in a roof, which helps to prevent water from entering the attic and causing rot and damage. 

If you properly install nails on your roof, you can prevent various types of expensive damage.

Continue reading for our guide to everything you must know about roof nails, including the main types, head shapes and more.

What Are the Main Roof Nail Types?

There are three primary materials commonly used for roofing nails; they include:

  • Galvanised roofing nails – These are brilliant at resisting corrosion because of the layer of zinc on them. They are also cheaper than the other options. Additionally, they are an excellent all-round nail suitable for most roof types.
  • Stainless steel nails – These are another great option to resist corrosion, especially from saltwater, so they work well in coastal housing areas. Also, they are the most durable option, lasting for a long time. However, they are also more expensive than galvanised nails.
  • Copper nails – These are another option that resists corrosion, but they are also aesthetically pleasing because of the patina that forms on them.

Along with these standard roof nail types, multiple nail types are for more specific purposes. Here are some of the specialised roof nails:

  • Coil nails for roofing come in coils, so you can easily install them on a large roof.
  • Capped roof nails come with caps (metal or plastic) on the nail heads that help to make the nails and roof more waterproof.
  • Tile roof nails specialise in tiled roofs. They are wider and longer, so you can secure them onto tiles securely.
  • Asphalt shingle roof nails specialise in asphalt shingle roofs. They have wide heads but shorter shanks, perfect for securing the shingles.

Why is the Sizing of Roof Nails Important?

Regarding roof nails, it isn’t ‘one size fits all’. You can find them in multiple sizes, so you must find the best size for your roof.

Most roofing nails will be under 3.8cm long, but some roofs, like tilled roofs, need longer ones.

You also need to consider the nail gauge, which is the nail shank’s thickness. When you look at nail categories, they usually reference the gauge first (a 12-gauge nail, for example). The lower that number is, the thicker the nail will be. If you have a heavier roof, thicker nails are a better choice.

When choosing the perfect nail size, consider your location and climate, the roof materials you have, and the overall roof thickness. You want nails that will penetrate the roof materials and hold them together.

What Roofing Nail Head Shapes Can You Get?

The roofing nail head is much more significant than you may think. For example, nail heads are brilliant at stopping water from infiltrating the roof. Without them, you may have a compromised roof structure.

Here are the most helpful roof nail head types and what to use them for:

  • Round head nails are the most traditional design you can find. They also have the flattest surface, which makes them appropriate for asphalt roofs. They are also cheaper, making them a great option for saving money.
  • Flathead nails are better to secure something far heavier to the roof, like wooden boards or slate shingles.
  • As mentioned above, cap nail heads prevent water from penetrating the roof. They are also good at preventing damage to your primary roofing material, so we recommend using them for metal roofs.

What Are the Different Shank Types When Looking at Nails for Your Roof?

The shank type is essential when choosing the best roof nails because it is the key to correctly holding roof materials in place. To find the best shank type, you must consider the climate of your area and the roofing materials you use.

Here are the different shank types to consider:

  • Smooth shanks are the most common type because they have very little texture, making them suitable for asphalt shingles. However, they aren’t the best at holding down materials, but they are easier to install than other types.
  • Ring shanks usually have thick ridges or thin rings, which make them much harder to pull out of a roof. They are great for heavier roofing materials like wood.
  • Screw shanks have a spiral design, making them much closer to a screw than a nail. They are the best option if you need excellent holding power. For example, they are fantastic if you live in an area with terrible weather, like high winds.

You can also get different coatings for nail shanks. For example, some nails have a brushed zinc coating that offers decent resistance to rust and corrosion. Also, some nails get a dip in extremely hot zinc, providing a thicker and more durable coating.

How Do You Install Roofing Nails?

Although you may think installing nails is a straightforward process, there are multiple steps, including: 

  1. Clean the roof deck before starting any work, removing debris and repairing damage.
  2. Ensuring the roof materials are in the correct position.
  3. Start the nailing process at the bottom of the roof and work up, leaving 6-12 inches of space between nails.
  4. Ensure you use a nail gun to get proper positioning and spacing.

You also need to avoid several common mistakes when nailing on a roof.

For example, it can be straightforward to overdrive your nails and damage the roof, so be careful with the nail gun. However, you must ensure you don’t underdrive the nails because they won’t work effectively.

What Safety Considerations Must You Make When Working with Roof Nails?

When working on the roof with nails, you must always be safe. Therefore, inspect the roof beforehand, check for adverse weather reports and inspect your roof ladder.

Additionally, you must wear protective clothing and gear to prevent injury from the nails. Examples of protective clothing include non-slip shoes, goggles, safety gloves, a hard hat and ear muffs.

Also, don’t place your fingers in front of the nail gun; you risk serious injury if you do this.

What Impact Do Roofing Nails Have on the Environment?

Roofing nails can have several positive environmental impacts.

For example, if you buy roofing nails that resist corrosion for a long time, you won’t have to replace them as often, which lowers the amount of metal waste you create.

Additionally, some nail products contain recycled metals, reducing the energy it takes to create them from virgin metal sources.

How Often Do You Need to Maintain and Repair Roof Nail Products?

If you don’t regularly inspect and maintain your roofing nails, they may have problems that you overlook, which can compromise the roofing materials and allow leaks through the roof.

When inspecting and fixing external roofing, check for several nail conditions like rust and corrosion. You also need to check if any nails are loose. If this is the case, re-nail them or replace them.

If you get nails that are excellent at resisting corrosion, you won’t need to replace them as much.

Final Thoughts on Why Nails Are Critical for a Roof

In summary, choosing the proper roofing nails is vital to avoid significant rot and damage to your roof’s structure.

To choose the best ones, consider the weather conditions in your area, the roof materials you use (like flashing) and your budget.

You can find many more tips and tricks on creating the best roof on Roofstuff!

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