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Using The Right Roofing Nails For The Job (Sizes, Types)

Every component of a roof plays a crucial role in ensuring the durability and integrity of the structure. Among these…
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Jacob Wadding

Every component of a roof plays a crucial role in ensuring the durability and integrity of the structure. Among these components, roofing nails are often overlooked, but their significance cannot be understated. Choosing the right roofing nails is essential for securing shingles and other materials, preventing leaks, and ensuring the overall longevity of the roof. In this article, we will delve into the importance of using the correct roofing nails, discuss the various sizes and types available, and provide guidance on how to select the best nails for your specific roofing project.

  • The importance of using the right roofing nails
  • 6 types of roofing nails
  • Sizes of roofing nails
  • Choosing the right roofing nails for your project
  • Common mistakes to avoid

πŸ’‘ The Importance of Using the Right Roofing Nails

roofing nails-close up of shingles installed on a roof peak

Roofing nails are designed to secure roofing materials to the structure of the roof. They must withstand various weather conditions, including high winds, heavy rain, and temperature fluctuations. Using the wrong type or size of nails can lead to a host of problems, such as:

  • Leaks: Improperly secured shingles can allow water to seep into the roof, causing leaks and water damage.
  • Shingle Blow-Offs: Nails that are too short or not properly fastened can result in shingles being blown off during strong winds.
  • Structural Damage: Incorrect nails can damage the roofing material or the underlying structure, compromising the roof’s integrity.
  • Premature Wear and Tear: Using nails that are prone to rust or corrosion can lead to premature deterioration of the roofing materials.

Therefore, understanding the different types and sizes of roofing nails and their appropriate applications is vital for any roofing project.

πŸ”¨ 6 Types of Roofing Nails

Roofing nails come in various types, each designed for specific applications and roofing materials. Here are the most common types of roofing nails:

1. Smooth Shank Nails

Smooth shank nails are the most commonly used type of roofing nails. They have a smooth, cylindrical shank and a flat head. These nails are easy to drive in and remove, making them suitable for a variety of roofing projects. However, they do not provide as much holding power as other types of nails, making them less ideal for areas prone to high winds.

2. Ring Shank Nails

Ring shank nails, also known as annular ring nails, have ridges or rings along the shank. These rings provide additional holding power, making them more resistant to being pulled out. Ring shank nails are often used in areas with high wind speeds or for securing roofing materials that require extra grip, such as synthetic underlayments.

3. Screw Shank Nails

Screw shank nails, sometimes referred to as spiral shank nails, have a twisted shank that resembles a screw. This design provides excellent holding power and resistance to withdrawal. Screw shank nails are commonly used in applications where the roof will be exposed to strong winds and other harsh weather conditions.

4. Copper Roofing Nails

Copper roofing nails are made from copper, a corrosion-resistant metal. These nails are typically used for installing copper or other metal roofing materials. Copper nails are also used in roofing applications where aesthetics are important, as they develop a natural patina over time that blends well with copper roofing.

5. Aluminum Roofing Nails

Aluminum roofing nails are lightweight and resistant to corrosion. They are often used in coastal areas or regions with high humidity, where rust and corrosion are concerns. Aluminum nails are suitable for asphalt shingles, wood shingles, and metal roofing.

6. Stainless Steel Roofing Nails

Stainless steel roofing nails offer the highest level of corrosion resistance. They are ideal for use in extreme weather conditions, including coastal areas and regions with high salt content in the air. Stainless steel nails are often used for slate and tile roofing, where durability and longevity are crucial.

πŸ“ Sizes of Roofing Nails

Roofing nails come in various sizes, and choosing the right size is crucial for ensuring the proper installation of roofing materials. The size of a roofing nail is determined by its length and gauge (diameter). Here are the standard sizes and their common uses:


  • 1 Inch (3D): These short nails are typically used for securing lightweight materials such as roofing felt or underlayment.
  • 1.25 Inches (4D): Commonly used for attaching asphalt shingles to the roof deck. They provide sufficient length to penetrate the shingle and the sheathing below.
  • 1.5 Inches (5D): Often used for thicker or double-layer asphalt shingles. The extra length ensures a secure hold.
  • 2 Inches (6D): Suitable for wood shingles and shakes. They provide the necessary length to penetrate through the roofing material and into the sheathing.
  • 2.5 Inches (8D): Used for slate and tile roofing. These longer nails provide the strength and holding power needed for heavier roofing materials.


  • 10 Gauge: Thicker nails that provide more holding power. They are often used for heavy-duty applications, such as securing slate or tile roofing.
  • 11 Gauge: Standard gauge for most roofing nails. Suitable for asphalt shingles and wood shingles.
  • 12 Gauge: Thinner nails used for lighter roofing materials and underlayments.

πŸ‘‡ Choosing the Right Roofing Nails for Your Project

roofing nails-close up of tech measuring and cutting shingles to be installed

Selecting the right roofing nails involves considering several factors, including the type of roofing material, the local climate, and the specific requirements of your project. Here are some guidelines to help you make the best choice:

Consider the Roofing Material

Different roofing materials require different types of nails. Here are some recommendations based on common roofing materials:

  • Asphalt Shingles: Use 1.25-inch to 1.5-inch smooth shank or ring shank nails. For areas prone to high winds, ring shank nails provide better holding power.
  • Wood Shingles and Shakes: Use 1.5-inch to 2-inch nails, preferably ring shank or screw shank for added grip.
  • Metal Roofing: Use aluminum or stainless steel nails to prevent corrosion. The length will depend on the thickness of the roofing material.
  • Slate and Tile: Use 2-inch to 2.5-inch stainless steel or copper nails for maximum durability and corrosion resistance.

Consider the Local Climate

The climate in your area can significantly impact the performance of roofing nails. Here are some tips based on different climates:

  • Coastal Areas: Use aluminum or stainless steel nails to resist corrosion caused by salt in the air.
  • Humid or Rainy Climates: Stainless steel or copper nails are ideal for preventing rust and corrosion.
  • Windy Areas: Opt for ring shank or screw shank nails to ensure the shingles remain securely fastened.

Check Building Codes and Manufacturer Recommendations

Always consult local building codes and the roofing material manufacturer’s recommendations before selecting roofing nails. Building codes may specify the type and size of nails required for compliance, and manufacturers often provide guidelines to ensure their products are installed correctly and maintain their warranties.

Ensure Proper Nail Placement and Installation

Proper nail placement and installation are just as important as choosing the right nails. Here are some general tips for proper nailing:

  • Nail Placement: For asphalt shingles, place nails approximately 1 inch from the edge of the shingle and 0.5 inches above the cutout or tab. Ensure nails are evenly spaced and driven straight.
  • Nail Depth: Nails should be driven flush with the shingle surface. Overdriving or underdriving nails can compromise their holding power.
  • Nail Quantity: Use the recommended number of nails per shingle. Typically, four nails per shingle are standard, but in high-wind areas, six nails per shingle may be required.

🚫 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using the wrong roofing nails or improper installation can lead to significant issues down the line. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Using the Wrong Type of Nail

Using nails that are not suited for the roofing material or local climate can result in premature failure. Always choose nails that are compatible with the roofing material and provide adequate corrosion resistance.

Using Nails That Are Too Short

Nails that are too short may not penetrate through the shingle and into the sheathing, leading to weak attachment and potential blow-offs. Ensure the nails are long enough to penetrate at least 3/4 inch into the roof deck.

Overdriving or Underdriving Nails

Overdriving nails can damage the shingle, while underdriving nails can leave them exposed to the elements, leading to rust and corrosion. Aim to drive nails flush with the shingle surface.

Inconsistent Nail Spacing

Inconsistent nail spacing can lead to uneven shingle attachment and potential leaks. Ensure nails are evenly spaced and properly aligned.

πŸ™Œ The Importance of Choosing the Right Roofing Nails: Trust Arch Exteriors for Expertise and Quality

Choosing the right roofing nails is a critical aspect of any roofing project. At Arch Exteriors, our team has the expertise to understand the different types and sizes of roofing nails, considering factors such as roofing material, local climate, and proper installation techniques. We ensure a secure and long-lasting roof by avoiding common mistakes and adhering to building codes and manufacturer recommendations. Trust us to protect your home from the elements and provide you with a durable, leak-free roof for years to come. Contact Arch Exteriors today for your roofing needs and experience the difference in quality and service!

About the Author
Your home is probably the most expensive thing you own. When you hire somebody to make improvements, you want high-quality work. In addition, you hope they’ll take the same care you would. You want someone with a good reputation, legitimate credentials, well established, using quality materials, and who charges a fair price. For over 11 years, I have worked hard to provide all of those benefits to my clients. One of the major reasons we have been able to do that is our ability to keep highly qualified personnel. Our workers are well trained, properly motivated, and managed professionally. I make certain that I convey measurable systems and procedures that our team understands and can readily follow.

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