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Three Characteristics Of Roofing Nails You Should Consider Before Purchase

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If you are planning to perform roof installation work in the near future, you know that decisions will need to be made regarding the type of roof you wish to install. However, you may not have thought about the need to look at the choices for roofing nails and make an informed decision about which kind to choose. Below are three characteristics that all roofing nails possess and what you should keep in mind about each as you make your selections:


Roofing nails are made of metal, and though that is probably not news to you, you may be surprised to learn how many different types of metal are used. Below are some of the most common and their appropriate applications:

Galvanized steel

Galvanization is the process of applying a coating of zinc to steel in order to provide protection against corrosion. Zinc protects roofing nails by creating an exterior barrier to corrosive elements and serving as a sacrificial anode that keeps the steel core from rusting. There are two common ways to galvanize steel: electroplating and hot-dipping. Electroplating deposits a thin, shiny layer of zinc on the steel, while hot-dipping leaves a thicker, but duller, layer on the steel.

Both methods are used to manufacture roofing nails, but the thicker hot-dipped nails are preferred for use on asphalt-shingled roofs due to their enhanced resistance to corrosion. However, electroplated nails are acceptable to use for tacking roof felt to the underlayment since they will be protected from rain and other corrosive influences.


Copper nails are the traditional and most common choice for installing slate roofs. Slate roofs are extremely long-lived, and copper's durability and resistance to corrosion for decades will prevent the need for premature repair or replacement. Slate shingles either come pre-drilled with hanger holes or the installer will need to punch them, and the nails actually serve as hangers more than fasteners.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel roofing nails are sometimes chosen for use with slate roofs due to the high cost of copper. Stainless steel is less-expensive, also highly-resistant to corrosion, and stronger than copper. However, stainless steel doesn't offer the patina of copper, and its shiny appearance may be a negative for some homeowners.

Shank Style

The shank of roofing nails is the portion of the nail between the flat head of the nail and the tip. Most roofing nails are made with smooth shanks or ring shanks. The smooth shank nails have no variation in their surface from head to tip; they are completely smooth, and this increases the ease and speed at which nails can be driven. They are also the lowest cost option for roofing nails. Ring shank nails possess numerous rings around the circumference of the nails, and these rings can add help the nails get a better "bite" into the roofing materials. They are particularly suitable for use in damp environments where moisture might otherwise try to push the nails out of the roof.

Some roofing nails are made with screw or spiral shanks; these shanks are twisted several times and this provides threaded surfaces that add even more grip than ring shank nails. Such nails are more costly, though, and their twisting mechanism of entry into the roof can make them more difficult to hammer.


The length of roofing nail shanks is also an important factor in knowing what nail is right to choose. For use with standard asphalt shingles and felt underlayment, one inch roofing nails are usually sufficient. For shingle materials such as slate and wood, the nail lengths will need to be increased accordingly to provide adequate penetration through the materials.

However, excessive penetration can also be harmful; it can weaken the underlayment needlessly and provides increase avenues for water incursion. In addition, if your attic is accessible, then the longer nails serve as a safety hazard for individuals that might be venturing underneath. If you have difficulty knowing what size to choose, contact the manufacturer who made the shingles you will use on your roof for guidance. Go to sites of roofing specialists for more information.