What’s the Difference Between Roofing Nails vs. Siding Nails

If you’re fixing your siding or fixing your shingles, you should absolutely learn the difference between the two different types of nails used for either task.

At first, someone unfamiliar with the nitty gritty details of siding and roofing might assume the same nail is used for either project or make the mistake of believing nails are interchangeable.  However, a roofing nail and a siding nail are designed for two distinct materials, so it’s best to know which one is right for your scenario.

All About Siding Nails

Siding nails are installed by means of a siding nailer.  While a siding nailer looks quite similar to a roofing nailer, the tools use different nails.  Siding nails are of course installed into exterior walls to secure siding pieces.

These nails are designed to stay put, meaning once you’ve installed them into the siding, you won’t be getting them back out.  This is because siding isn’t meant to be replaced as often as roofing (shingles are frequently replaced).  Siding nails are ring-shanked, which gives these nails a better hold on the siding.  For the same reason, siding nails are designed with smaller heads.

installing siding with a nailer

Although it goes against instinct to not install a nail flush with the surface, a siding nail will require you to leave a small gap between the head of the nail and the siding itself.  The reason behind not installing a siding nail flush into the siding is because of the material’s exposure to temperature shifts and adverse weather.

Vinyl siding has a tendency to expand and contract thanks to its inherent nature, which is why you’ll want to put the siding nail a little cockeyed into the surface.  By doing so, you can avoid getting cracks in the siding at the site of puncture, which can happen when the seasons swing from too hot to too cold.

You’ll also notice that siding nails are more expensive than roofing nails.  Siding nails are longer, and with more material comes a higher price.  These nails need to be longer as siding panels are rather thick.  Don’t be tempted to switch to a cheaper roofing nail to do a siding nail’s job—you could be putting your siding at risk for cracking and popping off.

All About Roofing Nails

It can be hard to differentiate between a roofing nail and a siding nail.  Although roofing nails are cheaper than their siding counterpart, they are a completely different fastener and shouldn’t be used on exterior siding.

The main difference between the two nails is that roofing nails are designed to come out, unlike the siding nail, which is meant to be secured into the siding for its lifetime.  Roofing nails will need replacing every so often, so the design of the larger nail head allows for an easier grab for removal.  The shanks of roofing nails are also smooth.  Siding nails have ringed shanks to better grip and resistance.

installing shingles with a nailer

Also unlike siding nails, roofing nails are installed flush against the surface.  These nails are meant to punch through asphalt shingles to secure them onto the roofing system, so you won’t want this style of nail to stick out and make the roof line look uneven.

Shingles aren’t too thick, so the roofing nails are actually shorter—no longer than 1-3/4 inches.  Siding nails are much longer because they need to pierce through a thick layer of vinyl paneling. This is perhaps the most noticeable difference between the two nails—that, and the price tag.

Most people prefer to end up with a roofing nailer as opposed to a siding nailer.  Even though the two tools look similar, the nails they use are designed differently and each have their own purpose.  Roofing nails are cheaper because they don’t require as much material to make as they’re shorter than siding nails.  You can also remove roofing nails, so a roofing nailer may bring you more use for projects other than nailing in shingles.

Knowing the Differences

You’ll need different nails and different tools for nailing in shingles or siding.  Roofing nailers and siding nails aren’t the same tool and require their own nails for these two distinct jobs.  Both of these tools are coil nailers that are designed to punch nails through materials, but whether you’re securing siding or a roofing shingle will determine which one you’ll need to be successful.

Roofing nails are:

  • Designed to be removed
  • Have a larger nail head for the purpose of removal
  • Have a smooth shank for removal
  • Are no longer than 1-3/4 inches
  • Are meant to be installed flush against the shingle surface

Siding nails are:

  • Meant to stay in place
  • Have a smaller head to secure them in place
  • Have a ring shank to help them remain in place
  • Are up to 2-1/2 inches long
  • Are meant to be installed at an angle—not flush against the siding

At Feldco, we provide breakthrough design and triple layer protection to keep your roof insulated throughout the year. For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced and professional to get the job done correctly. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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