Are Nailguns a bad idea for Roofing?

sewhappy_2007May 6, 2009

We had a big hail storm in our area last February, and most houses on our block are now getting new roofs. My neighbor insists that using a nailgun on shingles can cause the nail to puncture the shingle and cause future leaks. Is this the case? I have found a contractor who will hand hammer, but I'm curious if this is important.

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HandyMac

Framing nailers are not intended for roofing. Using a framing nailer to install shingles is dumb---and I am trying to be tactful. Any workman/company using framing nailers to install shingles has very little(if any) knowlege of roofing.

Most framing nailers are made with straight magazines, roofing nailers are made with round magazines.

Roofing nailers are designed to install shingles. The nailer design and the nail design are properly made to quickly intall roofing nails in asphalt shingles.

However, to add to the confusion, using a regular hammer to install roofing nails can make holes in the shingles---a special roofing hammer is necessary---and even that can be used wrong.

In today's market, It seems to me the air nailer is not only faster, it is safer.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 10:17AM
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lazypup

As Handymac already pointed out, roofing nailers are much faster and in all construction, time is money. In addition there are other factors that must be considered.

When shingles are hand nailed you have to consider the skill and physical ability of the person swinging the hammer, not to mention that you have to factor in operator fatigue, on the other hand, an air operated roofing nailer will drive every nail with the exact same degree of force, whether were talking about the first nail in the morning or the last nail at quitting time, no matter who operates the gun.

For my money I would insist on using a nailer.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 10:35AM
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brickeyee

"...on the other hand, an air operated roofing nailer will drive every nail with the exact same degree of force, whether were talking about the first nail in the morning or the last nail at quitting time, no matter who operates the gun."

And if not adjusted properly every nail will be wrong.

The other problem with the roofing nailers is 'soft spots' in sheathing.
The nailer is adjusted for depth, but the depth actually driven depends on how well the operator is holding the nailer and how much resistance the nail encounters.

You still have to know how to use the equipment.

Watch out for roofers using staples instead of roofing nails.
Some shingle manufacturers will not warranty staples since they have less holding area then nail heads.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 2:03PM
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live_wire_oak

Any tool is only as good as the operator of that tool.

Nothing wrong with using a power roof nailer on a project---if the operator knows what he's doing. If he doesn't know what he's doing, even the best tool won't make up for the fact that he's an idiot and doesn't know or care about the job he's doing. Do your due diligence on every potential contractor you hire, especially on the licensing and insurance, and you'll at least have some protection should things go wonky.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 3:02PM
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mongoct

I hand nail and air nail.

As others have mentioned, a properly set air nailer can be a labor saver.

One restriction, which for me is local, is that in some coastal areas hot-dipped galvanized nails are required, and the coating is required to be a certain thickness.

These nails are not available for nail guns, so those are the times that hand nailing comes into play.

Other than that, I air nail with my coil roofing nail guns.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:39AM
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mikie_gw

Most guys swinging a hammer have lots of experience. And arms that don't seem to fatigue.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 11:12PM
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peanutmom

I hate to say this, but it was mentioned before, time is money. I have first hand knowledge in operating nailguns- lots of 'em. Different kinds as well. Any one can screw up anything if they are the "better" idiot, but most people who do roofing for a living are knowledgable in using their equipment, whether it be hands or nailguns, and will do the job right with either. If you have good references on someone who uses a nailgun to do the job, that means more than someone using a hammer especially if they are more comfortable with a nailgun. And paying someone extra for an outdated notion of quality is just tossing money off your roof.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:50AM
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sierraeast

As others have stated, it's all about the experience of the roofer and the use of the gun. First thing in the morning, the shingles are cool and you adjust your depth drive accordingly. As the day wears on and the temperature rises heating up the shingles, you have to compensate by setting your depth gauge to not sink the nail so tight. A good roofer is constantly setting the depth gauge according to how the shingle is reacting to the temperature. It's not a matter of "slam and jam" and setting the depth gauge only takes a few seconds.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 11:45AM
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