Which is the best way to install a roof, hand nailing or gun nailing? This question can be argued both ways and both can be correct. The simple answer is it all depends on the person holding the hammer or nail gun. Since asphalt shingled roofs are the most popular residential roofing materials used in our area, let’s use them for this example.

Most DIY’ers will purchase their shingles and never think about how to fasten them to the roof. Most think that nailing the composition shingle with a hammer is the only way. Most don’t know that there are tool rental stores that will rent air compressors and nail guns for their roofing project. Most professionals use pneumatic nail guns and air compressors. The reason why is their speed. A nail gun is a tool that has a magazine or tray that stores the fasteners. One by one these fasteners are driven through the asphalt shingle and into the roof deck by a supply of air. A compressor needs to have a continuous supply of air pressure to do this, which is about 90 – 120 PSI depending on the nail gun in use, roofing products used, thickness of roof deck, and the temperature of the time of day. The fasteners should have enough power to drive a nail into the roof deck 3/4 of an inch or through it to meet manufactures specifications and our local building code.

Using a fast nail gun can be dangerous and does not insure a good roof installation. Speed without experience is not good thing. I see it all the time. Nails not places correctly WILL cause roof failures and this is very common with nail guns. You will also void the manufactures warranty on the shingles.

There just are not many shinglers’ that have the skill level to keep up with a man with a gun. Hand nailing however can be fast but the same man, at the same skill level, doing the same job will perform faster using a gun and compressor.

Over pressured nail guns will drive nails to deep cutting the mat causing them lose holding down power needed to withstand high winds. In some cases becoming dislodged and slide down the roof over time. Hand driving avoids this because hammer head is larger than the driver in a nail gun so overdrive nail is rare since the hammer stops at the surface of the shingle.

Under pressured tools leave the nails high, (nail pop) causing the shingle above to be lifted and suspect to wind blow offs. As the weather hits the shingle above it will cause the shingle to wear away leaving an exposed nail head. Some shingles after roof traffic will cut through the upper shingle also leaving an exposed nail head. Hand nailers’ can tell better if a nail is high and will give it another hit.

Proper nail placement is critical for not only the performance of the product but the manufactures warranty. Improper nailing WILL void your warranty and cause leak & wind problems later.

There may be a few “old school” roofers that sell “hand nailing is the best” and that’s fine. Using a nail stripper and a roofing hammer is hard work, but a great way to install a roof. Having done both myself, I know from experience the value and a flaws of both. I my opinion, most roof failures are because of poor nail placement using nail guns. As a contractor the value of being competitive with labor cost, the production with a nail gun is needed. The key is having well trained crew that can produce very good roofs using nail guns.

Dependable Construction ensure their crews have skilled craftsman that are trained. We are a trusted contractor in Dayton, OH. We specializes in many different home improvement projects, including but not limited to roofing, siding, decks, windows, Skylights, drywall, painting and gutters. We can help you turn any house into your dream home while only using the highest-quality materials and best workmanship in the area.


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