If you are planning to install a new roof or repair an old one, you might be wondering what size nails for shingles.
Choosing the right nail size is important for the performance and appearance of your roof.
In this blog post, we will explain the different types of nails for shingles, why nail size matters, and how to determine the best nail size for your shingles.
What Size Nails Should You Use for Shingles?
For asphalt shingles, the recommended nail size is typically 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, while heavier materials like architectural shingles may require 1-1/2 to 2-inch nails. Always use galvanized, rust-resistant nails and consult manufacturer guidelines for specific recommendations.
Here is a quick table:
|Shingle Type||Recommended Nail Size|
|Asphalt Shingles||1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inch|
|Architectural||1-1/2 to 2 inches|
|Wood Shakes/Shingles||2 to 2-1/2 inches|
|Metal Shingles||Specialized fasteners|
|Tile||2 to 3 inches|
|Slate||2 to 3 inches|
Different Types of Nails for Shingles
There are many types of nails available for roofing, but not all of them are suitable for shingles. Here are some of the most common types of nails for shingles and their pros and cons.
Roofing nails are specially designed for roofing applications. They have a large, flat head that helps to secure the shingle and prevent it from tearing or blowing off.
They also have a sharp point and a smooth or ringed shank that allows them to penetrate the shingle and the roof deck easily.
Roofing nails are usually made of steel, but they can also be coated with zinc or copper to prevent rusting and corrosion.
Roofing nails are the most widely used type of nails for shingles because they are affordable, durable, and easy to install.
Stainless Steel Nails
Stainless steel nails are made of high-quality steel that is resistant to rusting, corrosion, and staining.
They are ideal for coastal areas or regions with high humidity or salt spray. They are also compatible with any type of shingle material, including metal, slate, or tile.
Stainless steel nails are more expensive than roofing nails, but they offer superior strength and longevity. They are also less likely to cause discoloration or streaking on the shingles.
Galvanized nails are steel nails coated with zinc to protect them from rusting and corrosion. There are two main types: hot-dipped galvanized and electro-galvanized.
Hot-dipped is more robust, since the nail is immersed in a melted zinc solution, which creates a strong coating.
Electro-galvanized combines electricity with a less powerful chemical solution to create a thinner zinc coating.
Galvanized nails are cheaper than stainless steel nails, but they are not as durable or resistant to corrosion.
They may also react with some types of shingle materials, such as copper or aluminum, and cause staining or deterioration.
Aluminum nails are lightweight and corrosion-resistant nails that are suitable for aluminum or metal shingles. They have a smooth shank and a large head that helps to hold the shingle in place.
Aluminum nails are not very strong or durable, so they may bend or break easily. They are also not compatible with other types of shingle materials, such as asphalt or wood, because they may cause galvanic corrosion.
Copper nails are corrosion-resistant and aesthetically pleasing nails that are often used for copper or slate shingles. They have a smooth shank and a large head that matches the color of the shingle.
Copper nails are expensive and hard to find, but they offer excellent durability and appearance. They are also compatible with most types of shingle materials, except aluminum or zinc.
Importance of Choosing the Right Nail Size for Shingles
Choosing the right nail size for shingles is not only a matter of preference but also a matter of safety and quality. Nail size affects how well the shingle is attached to the roof deck and how well it can withstand wind uplift and other forces.
If the nail is too short, it may not penetrate the roof deck enough to hold the shingle securely. If the nail is too long, it may protrude through the roof deck and cause damage to the underlayment or the attic insulation.
A properly sized nail should penetrate the shingle and then as the plywood or OSB decking beneath by at least 3/4 of an inch. The sheathing thickness can vary, so you may need longer nails depending on the decking used.
Nail size also affects how long the shingle will last and how well it can resist wear and tear. If the nail is too short, it may not provide enough grip to prevent the shingle from curling or cracking over time.
If the nail is too long, it may cause stress fractures or punctures on the shingle surface.
A properly sized nail should fit snugly into the nailing strip of the shingle without causing any damage to the shingle material.
Nail size also affects how well the shingle can protect your home from water damage and leaks. If the nail is too short, it may not seal the shingle properly and allow water to seep through the nail holes.
If the nail is too long, it may create gaps between the shingle and the roof deck that can trap moisture and cause rot or mold.
A properly sized nail should create a tight seal between the shingle and the roof deck without leaving any gaps or holes.
Nail size also affects how your roof looks and how well it matches your home’s style and design. If the nail is too short, it may not cover the nail head exposure area of the shingle and leave visible nail heads that can detract from the appearance of your roof.
If the nail is too long, it may cause bumps or ridges on the shingle surface that can ruin the smoothness and uniformity of your roof.
A properly sized nail should cover the nail head exposure area of the shingle and create a flat and even shingle surface.
Factors Influencing Nail Size Selection for Shingles
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what size nails you should use for shingles.
Different types of shingle materials have different thicknesses and require different nail sizes.
For example, asphalt shingles are thinner than metal or slate shingles, so they need shorter nails. You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the nail size that matches your shingle material.
The roofing underlayment is the layer of material that goes between the roof deck and the shingles. It provides extra protection from water damage, fire, noise, and heat.
The roofing underlayment can also affect the nail size you need for shingles.
For example, if you use a thicker underlayment, such as felt paper or synthetic membrane, you may need longer nails to penetrate both the underlayment and the roof deck.
Local Weather Conditions
The local weather conditions can also influence the nail size you need for shingles.
For example, if you live in an area with high winds, heavy snow, or hail, you may need longer nails to secure the shingles better and prevent them from blowing off or breaking.
You should also consider using ring shank nails instead of smooth shank nails, as they have more holding power and resistance to pull out.
Building Codes and Standards
The building codes and standards in your area can also affect the nail size you need for shingles. For example, some regions may have specific requirements for the minimum or maximum nail length, diameter, head size, or coating for roofing applications.
You should always check with your local building authority before choosing nails for shingles to ensure compliance and avoid penalties.
The installation method you use for shingles can also influence the nail size you need.
For example, if you use a hand-nailing method, you may need shorter nails than if you use a pneumatic-nailing method, as hand-nailing tends to drive nails deeper into the roof deck than pneumatic nailing.
You should also adjust your nailing pressure according to the type of shingle material and roof deck you have to avoid overdriving or underdriving nails.
The budget considerations can also affect the nail size you need for shingles. For example, if you want to save money on roofing materials, you may opt for shorter nails than longer nails, as shorter nails are cheaper than longer nails.
However, you should not compromise on quality or performance for cost savings, as using inferior or inappropriate nails can lead to roofing problems and repairs in the future.
Steps to Determine the Right Nail Size
Measure Shingle Thickness
The first step is to measure the thickness of your shingle material using a ruler or a caliper.
You should measure at least three different spots on each type of shingle you have to get an average thickness.
Refer to Manufacturer Guidelines
The next step is to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for your shingle material and find out what nail size they recommend.
You should also check if they have any specific instructions or tips for nailing their shingles.
Check Local Building Codes
The third step is to check your local building codes and see if they have any requirements or restrictions for nail size for roofing applications.
You should also consult with your roofing contractor or inspector if you have any doubts or questions about your local building codes.
Perform a Test Installation
The final step is to perform a test installation of a few shingles using the nail size you have chosen.
You should check if the nails penetrate the shingle and the roof deck properly if they create a tight seal without gaps or holes, and if they cover the nail head exposure area without damaging the shingle surface.
You should also check if the shingles are secure and stable on the roof and if they can withstand wind uplift and other forces.
If you are satisfied with the results of your test installation, you can proceed with nailing the rest of your shingles. If you are not satisfied, you may need to adjust your nail size or nailing method until you achieve the desired outcome.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Nails for Shingles
Using the Wrong Material
One of the most common mistakes is using nails that are made of the wrong material for your shingle material or your local weather conditions.
For example, using steel nails for copper or aluminum shingles can cause galvanic corrosion, which can damage both the nails and the shingles.
Using non-corrosion-resistant nails for coastal areas or regions with high humidity or salt spray can cause rusting and staining, which can weaken the nails and ruin the appearance of your roof.
To avoid this mistake, you should always use nails that are compatible with your shingle material and that are suitable for your local weather conditions.
You should also use nails that have a coating or a finish that can protect them from rusting and corrosion, such as zinc or copper.
Choosing Nails That Are Too Short or Too Long
Another common mistake is choosing nails that are too short or too long for your shingle material and your roof deck.
For example, using nails that are too short can cause the shingles to loosen or fall off over time, as they may not penetrate the roof deck enough to hold them securely.
Using nails that are too long can cause damage to the shingle material or the roof deck, as they may protrude through them and create gaps or holes.
To avoid this mistake, you should always measure your shingle thickness and your roof deck thickness and choose nails that can penetrate both of them by at least 3/4 of an inch.
You should also follow the manufacturer guidelines and the local building codes for nail size for roofing applications.
Skimping on Quality to Save Money
Another common mistake is skimping on quality to save money when choosing nails for shingles.
For example, using cheap or low-quality nails that are made of inferior materials or have poor coatings or finishes can compromise the performance and appearance of your roof.
Cheap or low-quality nails may bend or break easily, rust or corrode quickly, or cause damage to your shingle material or your roof deck.
To avoid this mistake, you should always invest in high-quality nails that are made of durable materials and have good coatings or finishes.
High-quality nails may cost more upfront, but they will save you money in the long run by preventing roofing problems and repairs.
Can I use aluminum nails for asphalt shingles?
No, aluminum nails are not recommended for asphalt shingles as they can cause galvanic corrosion.
Is it okay to use shorter nails to save money?
Using shorter nails to save money is not advisable because they may not provide sufficient grip and could compromise the structural integrity of your roof.
Are hot-dipped galvanized nails better than electro-galvanized ones?
Yes, hot-dipped galvanized nails are generally more robust and offer better protection against rusting and corrosion compared to electro-galvanized nails.
Does the thickness of the roofing underlayment affect the nail size?
Yes, a thicker underlayment may require longer nails to ensure adequate penetration through both the shingle and the underlayment.
Is a test installation necessary for determining the right nail size?
Yes, performing a test installation is highly recommended to make sure the chosen nail size is appropriate for your specific roofing material and conditions.
Choosing the right nail size for shingles is an important decision that can affect the quality and durability of your roof.
To choose the right nail size for shingles, you should consider several factors.
You should also measure your shingle thickness and your roof deck thickness and choose nails that can penetrate both of them by at least 3/4 of an inch.