Types of Roof Nails

Last updated on June 12, 2023

Discover the various types of roof nails and their unique applications in our latest blog post, as we guide you through selecting the perfect nail for your roofing project.

When it comes to roofing, every little detail counts. Even the type of nail you use can make a big difference in the performance and longevity of your roof.

With so many different types of nails available on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your project. That’s why we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll be discussing the various types of roof nails and their specific uses.

So whether you’re a professional roofer or a DIY enthusiast, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing the right nail for your roofing needs.

Smooth Shank

types of roof nails

It has a plain, untextured surface and is often used for attaching asphalt shingles to roofs. The smooth surface allows the nail to be driven in easily without damaging the surrounding material or causing any splitting.

However, because of its lack of texture, it may not hold as well as other types of nails in high-wind areas or on steeply pitched roofs. Smooth shank nails are available in various lengths and gauges depending on your specific roofing needs.

When selecting a smooth shank nail for your project, make sure to choose one that meets industry standards and regulations. Using subpar materials can lead to premature roof failure or even safety hazards down the line.

Ring Shank

These nails have ridges or rings around the shank, which help to grip into the wood and prevent them from backing out over time. Ring shank nails are commonly used in areas with high wind speeds or where there is a risk of uplift.

When it comes to roofing applications, ring shank nails are an excellent choice for securing asphalt and fiberglass shingles. They provide better resistance against wind damage compared to smooth-shanked roofing nails.

It’s important to note that while ring-shanked roofing nails offer more holding power than smooth-shanked ones, they can also be more difficult to remove if needed.

Square Cap

These nails have a large, flat head that provides excellent holding power and prevents the nail from pulling through the shingle. The square shape of the cap also makes it easier to drive into place without damaging surrounding shingles.

When using square cap nails, it’s important to choose the right size and length for your project. Most manufacturers provide sizing charts that can help you determine which nail is best suited for your specific application.

One thing to keep in mind when using square cap nails is that they may not be suitable for all types of roofing materials. For example, if you’re working with metal or tile roofs, you may need specialized fasteners designed specifically for those materials.

Square cap nails are an excellent choice when installing asphalt shingles or other similar roofing materials.

Roofing Nail Materials

The most common materials for roofing nails are steel, copper, and aluminum.

Steel is the most popular choice due to its strength and affordability. It’s important to note that not all steel nails are created equal – some may be coated with zinc or other materials for added protection against rust.

Copper is another option that offers excellent corrosion resistance but comes at a higher cost than steel. Copper also has an attractive appearance that can add aesthetic value to your roof.

Aluminum is lightweight and highly resistant to corrosion but tends to be more expensive than both steel and copper options.

A. Steel

They are strong, durable, and affordable. Steel nails come in a variety of finishes such as galvanized or stainless steel to prevent rust and corrosion over time.

When selecting steel roofing nails for your project, it’s important to consider the length and gauge that will work best with your specific roof material. For example, thicker shingles may require longer or heavier gauge nails than thinner materials.

It’s also worth noting that while steel is a popular choice for its strength and affordability, it may not be suitable for all environments. In areas with high humidity or saltwater exposure (such as coastal regions), copper or aluminum may be better options due to their resistance to corrosion.

B. Copper

Copper is known to be resistant to corrosion, making it an ideal material for use in areas with high moisture levels or saltwater exposure. Copper has natural antimicrobial properties that help prevent the growth of mold and mildew on your roof.

While copper nails may be more expensive than other materials like steel or aluminum, their long lifespan makes them a cost-effective option in the long run. They also have an attractive appearance that can add value to your home’s curb appeal.

When selecting roofing nails made from copper, it’s important to consider the length and gauge of the nail based on your specific roofing needs. Consult with a professional roofer if you’re unsure about which size or type of nail is best suited for your project.

Choosing the right type of roof nail is crucial when it comes to ensuring proper installation and maintenance of your roof over time.

C. Aluminum

They are lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and can be used in coastal areas where saltwater exposure is a concern. However, aluminum nails may not be as strong as steel or copper nails and may bend more easily during installation.

It’s important to note that aluminum should not be used with pressure-treated lumber due to the risk of galvanic corrosion.

When selecting the type of nail for your roofing project, consider factors such as the material of your roof and its location. Consult with a professional roofer or refer to manufacturer guidelines before making any decisions on which type of nail to use.

Length of Roofing Nails

The length of the nail should be long enough to penetrate through all layers of roofing material and into the roof deck or sheathing below. If a nail is too short, it may not provide adequate support and could cause damage to your roof over time.

When choosing the appropriate length for your roofing nails, you’ll need to take into account both the thickness of your shingles or other materials as well as any underlayment that may be present. As a general rule, 1-1/4 inch nails are suitable for asphalt shingles while longer 2-inch nails are recommended for thicker materials like wood shakes.

It’s also worth noting that some building codes require specific lengths and gauges of roofing nails depending on factors such as wind resistance requirements in certain areas. Be sure to check with local regulations before beginning any roofing project.

Roofing Nail Sizes Chart

The size of a roofing nail is determined by its length and gauge. The length of a roofing nail is measured in inches, while the gauge refers to its thickness or diameter.

Using the wrong size can lead to problems such as leaks and even roof failure.

To ensure that you choose the correct size for your project, consult a roofing nail sizes chart. This chart will provide you with information on various sizes available in terms of both length and gauge.

It’s important to note that different types of roofs require different lengths and gauges for optimal performance. For example, asphalt shingles typically require nails between 1-1/4″ – 2″ long with a 12-14-gauge thickness depending on manufacturer specifications.

Roofing Nail Gauge

The gauge of a nail refers to its thickness, and it’s typically measured in numbers. The higher the number, the thinner the nail.

For roofing applications, nails with gauges ranging from 10-12 are commonly used. However, some roofers prefer using thicker nails for added durability and strength.

It’s essential to choose a proper gauge that can withstand harsh weather conditions such as strong winds or heavy rainfalls without bending or breaking easily.

What Type of Nails Should Be Used With Shingles?

The wrong type of nail can cause your shingles to loosen or even blow off in high winds, leading to costly repairs down the line. So what type of nails should be used with shingles?

The most commonly used nails for asphalt and fiberglass shingles are galvanized steel nails with a smooth or ringed shaft and a large flat head. These types of nails provide excellent holding power and resistance against rusting over time.

It’s important to note that not all roofing materials require the same size or length of nail. For example, thicker materials like slate may require longer and heavier gauge nails than thinner asphalt shingles.

It’s essential that you follow manufacturer guidelines when selecting your roofing material as they often have specific requirements for nailing patterns and spacing between each fastener.

How Many Nails Per Square?

The answer depends on the type of shingle being used and local building codes. In general, asphalt shingles require four nails per shingle while wood shakes or tiles may require more.

It’s important to note that using too few nails can result in a weak roof that is prone to damage from wind and other weather conditions. On the other hand, using too many nails can cause unnecessary damage to your roof deck and increase installation time.

To ensure you’re using the correct number of roofing nails for your project, consult with a professional roofer or refer to manufacturer guidelines for specific recommendations based on your chosen material.

The Cost of Roofing Nails

While it may be tempting to opt for cheaper nails, it’s important to remember that the quality of the nail can greatly impact the performance and longevity of your roof. The cost will vary depending on factors such as material, size, length, and quantity needed.

Steel nails are typically the most affordable option but may not last as long as copper or aluminum options. Copper nails are more expensive but offer superior corrosion resistance and durability in harsh weather conditions.

Aluminum nails fall somewhere in between steel and copper in terms of price point.

When purchasing roofing nails, keep in mind that you’ll need a significant amount for even a small project – usually around 1 pound per 100 square feet of roof surface area. It’s always better to purchase slightly more than you think you’ll need rather than running out mid-project.

What Type of Nails for Felt/Underlayment?

Felt and underlayment are typically installed before shingles, and they serve as a protective layer between the roof deck and shingles. The most common type of nail used for felt or underlayment is a smooth-shank roofing nail with a large head.

These nails are usually made from galvanized steel, which provides excellent corrosion resistance.

The length of the nails will depend on the thickness of your felt or underlayment material. For standard 15-pound roofing felt, 1-inch nails should be sufficient; however, if you’re using thicker materials like synthetic underlayments or ice-and-water barriers that require longer fasteners.

It’s important to note that when nailing down your felt/underlayment material onto your roof deck surface ensure there’s enough overlap between each sheet (usually around six inches) so water doesn’t seep through any gaps in-between them during heavy rainfalls.

What Type of Nails for Roof Flashing?

When it comes to installing roof flashing, choosing the right type of nail is crucial for ensuring a secure and long-lasting installation.

The most commonly used nails for roof flashing are galvanized steel or aluminum nails with a neoprene washer. These types of nails provide excellent corrosion resistance and can withstand exposure to harsh weather conditions.

It’s important to note that when installing roof flashing, you should avoid using regular roofing nails or staples as they may not provide enough holding power. Using non-corrosion-resistant materials can lead to premature rusting and deterioration over time.

When selecting the appropriate size of nail for your specific application, be sure to consult with your local building codes or manufacturer recommendations. In general, 1-1/2 inch long roofing nails are suitable for most standard applications.

Choosing the right type of nail is critical in ensuring a successful installation when working on your next roofing project involving flashings.

What Type of Nails for Sheathing?

Sheathing nails are designed specifically for attaching plywood or OSB panels to a roof deck or wall studs. These nails have a large head and shank diameter, which provides better holding power and prevents the panels from pulling away from the framing.

The most common type of sheathing nail is known as “common” or “box” nails. They come in various lengths ranging from 1 ½ inches to 3 inches long with diameters between .113”-.131”.

The length and gauge of your sheathing nail will depend on the thickness of your paneling material.

It’s important to note that using improper fasteners can lead to structural failure over time, so make sure you’re using appropriate materials for your project. Always consult with an expert if you’re unsure about what kind of fastener is best suited for your specific application.

How to Fix Nail Pops in a Roof

They happen when nails become loose and push up through the shingles, creating a small bump or “pop” on the surface. Not only do they look unsightly, but they can also cause damage to your roof if left unaddressed.

To fix nail pops in your roof, you’ll need to remove the old nails and replace them with new ones. Start by locating all of the popped nails on your roof’s surface using a hammer or pry bar.

Once you’ve identified them all, carefully lift up each shingle where there is a pop.

Next, use pliers to pull out any old or damaged roofing nails from underneath each lifted shingle. Then insert new roofing nails into their place at an angle so that they penetrate both layers of shingles beneath it without damaging them.

Gently tap down each lifted shingle back into its original position over top of its newly installed nail until it lays flat against your rooftop again.

How to Seal Exposed Nails

Over time, these nails can become loose or even pop out of the roof entirely. This not only looks unsightly but also poses a risk for water damage and leaks in your home.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution: sealing exposed nails.

To seal exposed nails on your roof, you’ll need to use a high-quality roofing sealant that’s designed specifically for this purpose. Start by cleaning the area around the nail thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or debris.

Next, apply a small amount of sealant directly onto the head of each nail using either a brush or caulking gun depending on what type of product you’re using. Be sure to cover each nail completely with sealant so that no gaps are left behind.

Allow ample time for drying before checking if additional coats are needed; usually one coat should suffice unless otherwise specified by manufacturer instructions.

Can You Reuse Roofing Nails?

But what about reusing old nails? Can you save money by recycling your old roofing nails? The short answer is no. Reusing old roofing nails can compromise the integrity of your roof and lead to leaks or other issues down the line.

When a nail is removed from a roof, it often leaves behind a small hole that can allow water to seep in. Even if you manage to remove the nail without damaging it, there’s no guarantee that it will hold up as well as a new one would.

Over time, metal fatigue can cause reused nails to break or bend under stress.

Different types of roofs require different types of fasteners with varying lengths and gauges depending on their weight-bearing capacity requirements; therefore using recycled ones may not be suitable for all applications.

The Importance of Nails in Roofing

Nails are the backbone of any roof, holding everything together and ensuring that your roof stays put even during the harshest weather conditions. Choosing the right type of nail for your roofing project is crucial to ensure that it can withstand wind, rain, snow and other elements.

Using improper or low-quality nails can lead to a host of problems such as leaks, loose shingles or tiles and even complete failure of your entire roofing system. That’s why it’s important to invest in high-quality nails made from durable materials like steel, copper or aluminum.

In addition to selecting the right material for your nails, you also need to consider their length and gauge size based on factors such as climate zone requirements (wind uplift resistance), shingle type/weight specifications etc.

Size, Length, and Gauge

The size of a roofing nail refers to its diameter while the length is measured from the head of the nail down to its tip. Gauge measures how thick or thin a particular type of metal is.

The most common sizes for roofing nails range from 1 inch up to 3 inches in length with diameters ranging between 11 and 12-gauge thicknesses. However, some specialty nails can be as long as six inches or more.

It’s important not only to choose an appropriate size but also one that matches your specific project requirements. Using undersized nails may result in inadequate holding power while oversized ones may damage your roof shingles.

Different types of materials require different gauges for optimal performance; steel requires thicker gauges than aluminum or copper due their relative softness compared with steel.


The most common materials used in roofing nails are steel, copper, and aluminum. Steel nails are the most popular choice due to their affordability and durability.

They come in a variety of finishes such as galvanized or stainless steel which helps prevent rusting.

Copper nails offer superior corrosion resistance making them ideal for coastal areas where saltwater can cause damage to other types of metal fasteners. However, they tend to be more expensive than other options.

Aluminum nails are lightweight and also resistant to corrosion but may not be suitable for all applications due to their softer nature compared with steel or copper.


Smooth shank nails are a popular choice for asphalt shingles, while ring shank nails provide extra holding power and are ideal for use with wood or metal roofing materials. Square cap nails have a larger head that helps to prevent tearing in felt underlayment.

It’s important to consider the material of the nail as well. Steel is a common choice due to its strength and affordability, but copper and aluminum offer superior corrosion resistance which can be beneficial in areas with high humidity or salt exposure.

When selecting your roofing nail, it’s also essential to pay attention to length and gauge size. The length should be long enough so that it penetrates through all layers of material being fastened together without protruding too far into the attic space below.

Gauge refers to how thick the wire is; thicker gauges provide more strength but may not fit through certain types of roof decking.

Choosing the right type of roofing nail requires careful consideration based on factors such as material compatibility, holding power requirements, corrosion resistance needs as well as length/gauge specifications dictated by local building codes or manufacturer recommendations – all critical elements when ensuring optimal performance from your new roof!.


What type of nails are best for roofing?

Answer: The best type of nails for roofing are stainless steel nails for slate, ceramic, or coastal asphalt shingle roofs, and galvanized nails for asphalt shingles in other climates.

Should roofing nails be ring shank?

Answer: Yes, roofing nails should be ring shank as they are commonly used and provide better grip in the deck.

What kind of nails to use for roof flashing?

Answer: One should use solid Copper Plain Shank Slating and Flashing Nails for roof flashing, as they are widely recommended and compatible with major brands of tile and slate roofing.

What are galvanized roofing nails used for?

Galvanized roofing nails, which are zinc-coated steel nails, are used for holding up better against rust and securing asphalt shingles on roofs.

What is the recommended length for roofing nails?

The recommended length for roofing nails is typically 1 inch (25.4 mm) to 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) long.

How do stainless steel roofing nails compare to galvanized nails in terms of durability?

Stainless steel roofing nails are more durable than galvanized nails due to their higher resistance to rust and corrosion.

How many nails are required per shingle for optimal roof installation?

Four nails are required per shingle for optimal roof installation.