What are Roofing Nails?

Technically, roofing nails are clout nails. The term “roofing nails” was given to these nails because they were generally used for roofing. In essence, roofing nails, or clout nails, are nails that have wide flat heads and short shanks. Roofing nails are made of many different materials and are available in many different sizes. A nail is typically graded based on inch and gauge. While inch clearly refers to the length of the shank, gauge refers to the diameter of the wire that was used to manufacture the nail. Roofing nails are available in varying lengths of 1 to 2 inches. Generally, their gauge is anywhere between 10 and 12. 

Types of Roofing Nails

Roofing nails can be categorized based on the type of material used to manufacture the nails such as copper roofing nails, stainless steel roofing nails, aluminum roofing nails, and galvanized roofing nails. Galvanized roofing nails can further be divided into hot-dipped, hot-galvanized, electroplated, and mechanically plated roofing nails. These are essentially steel nails that are coated with zinc; the type refers to the method used to form an outer layer of zinc. Apart from the material used for manufacture, roofing nails are also categorized based on the type of shank, such as smooth shank, ring shank and screw shank.

Uses of Roofing Nails

As the name suggests, roofing nails are primarily used in roof installation. Given below are some of the common uses of roofing nails when installing a roof.

  • Installing Shingles: Roofing nails are used to fasten shingles to the roof. Typically, galvanized roofing nails and aluminum roofing nails are used to secure shingles. However, if you are exposed to salty air or mist, you will need to use stainless steel roofing nails. While the gauge should ideally be 11 to 12, the shank length will depend on the roofing material used. For instance, if you are using asphalt or fiberglass shingles you should stick to 1 inch nails. If you are re-roofing over these, you need 1¼ inch nails. Keep in mind that wood shingles are thicker than asphalt and fiberglass shingles and will thus require longer roofing nails.
  • Fastening Roofing Felt: Roofing felt is a type of waterproof material that is made of glass fiber or polyester, impregnated with a bituminous material. Roofing felt is essentially used to make the roof waterproof and is extremely necessary to prevent moisture from damaging the roof. While roofing felt can be fastened using staples or other techniques involving the application of heat, it is most commonly secured using roofing nails.
  • Roof Flashing: Roofing nails are also used to attach sheet metal to wood. Typically, you would need to attach sheet metal to wood if you were installing a flashing for your roof. Roof flashing is important, especially if you live in wet areas, because it prevents water from seeping into the seams and joints. The reason why roofing nails are used for this purpose is because they can easily pass through both steel and wood.