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The Art Of Nailing Down Roofing Shingles, Perfected.
September 24, 2019

One of the most common defects found with roofing shingles is improper nailing.  Manufacturers give specific instructions on how to fasten shingles. The shingles may be one of the simplest roofing materials to install, but nevertheless, you have to follow the rules on how to be fastened.

It is important to apply roofing nails of the right quantity and the correct position to secure a shingle into its place. Precise nailing affects the performance of roofing shingles and it is also required by the building regulations.

Correct roofing nails

Roofing nails are used in all roof installations to fasten shingles in place. There are different kinds of roofing nails, made of diverse materials and in several sizes. Our roofing clients in Queens – our shingle loving hometown, could vouch for how much importance we place on quality nails.

Nail Length

A roofing nail should have minimum shank measurements of  1.5 inches long and 0.109-inch diameter. There is a minimum head diameter of 1/4″. Roofing nails should have a barbed shank until the head which reduces nail pops, blow-offs and roof leaks. The larger the nail head and heavier the shank gauge the greater the ability to hold. It is commonly known as a 12-gauge nail.

Roofing nails should be long enough to penetrate the roofing material and go 1.75″ into whatever material is underneath. To work out the required nail length, you should consider the number of layers of shingles, shingle thicknesses, underlayment, and flashings.

Nail Materials

All nails must be rendered corrosion resistant through various processes. Aluminum nails are good for metal roofs and shingles, but they are in areas where they can be exposed to chemicals or salt. If you live on the coast, use stainless steel roofing nails. Or you can use copper nails for basic roofing purposes. Galvanized roofing nails are steel nails that are coated in zinc. They hold up better against rust, and they can also be used for asphalt shingles.

General Fastening Rules

Proper fastening is crucial for a good roof performance. To ensure proper nailing during the shingle application you must:

  •         Use the correct type, size, and grade of nail as is specified in the application instruction.
  •         Always use corrosion-resistant nails.
  •         Use the number of nails per shingle as written in the instructions.
  •         Place the nails where it says in the specifications.
  •         Align the shingles properly before nailing.
  •         Drive the nails in straight so the head is flat against the shingle surface.
  •         You must not break the shingle surface with the nail head.
  •         Do not push nails into holes or cracks in the deck.
  •         Always mend incorrect nailing quickly.
  •         Always nail the shingle so it stays flat on the roof.
  •         If there are any special instructions for nailing steep slopes or for high wind areas make sure you follow them.
  •         Always comply with local building codes.

If a nail does not penetrate the deck sufficiently remove the nail, repair the hole in the shingle and put another nail nearby. If necessary, replace the entire shingle.

Nailing Method And Correct Location Of Nails


 Improper shingle nailing

When things go wrong with shingles it is often due to improper nailing. All manufacturers of asphalt shingles give detailed instructions on how to attach shingles, and they’re fairly similar. Unfortunately, some roofers don’t pay enough attention or respect to these instructions. It is important to be aware of the two most common nailing defects with shingles. Unlike Brooklyn Brownstoner flat roofing in which anyone can just pour the materials, shingle require some TLC and artistic capabilities.

Over-driven Nails

Many roofers use pneumatic nail guns to nail down the shingles.  If the pressure is set too high, the nails just get driven into the shingles too far.  When the nails are overdriven, the heads of the nails tare through the mat of the shingle.  This nulls the shingle manufacturer’s warranty and greatly increases the likelihood of the shingles coming loose and being blown off.

Improperly Located Nails

The other common nailing shortcoming is improperly located nails. It is very problematic to have nails placed too high on the shingle. The correct nail must be applied 1 inch above the cut-out and 1 inch from each edge. Nails must be applied in the specified nailing zone. When properly placed, the nail will actually catch the top edge of the shingle below it.  When the nails are located too high on the shingle, they never catch the shingle below. If you make this application mistake the shingles are less wind resistant and easily can blow off from the roof.

It’s important to use a professional roofing contractor with the skills to do the job right from the outset. The best roofing companies have quality control practices in order to monitor their work. Because a roof is your main defense against the elements, a bad job can lead to expensive water damage inside the building. That’s why you can’t afford to compromise on the quality of your roofing. When manufacturers supply the instructions you should have no issues.

Royal Renovators Inc. 118-35 Queens Blvd Forest Hills, NY 11375 (718) 414-6067 https://www.nycrenovators.com

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