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Roofing Nails vs Siding Nails: Understanding the Differences

Whether you're repairing or installing a new roof or siding, the nails you select can make or break your project. Picking the right kind of nails helps to ensure a quality and safe roof. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast roofing nails and siding nails, their differences, and how to determine which type of nail is best suited for your specific home improvement needs. So, whether you are a hands-on homeowner or a seasoned professional, read on to learn more about roofing vs. siding nails.


All About Roofing Nails

Roofing nails are a kind of nail used to fasten shingles, roofing felt, roof tiles, sheet metal and other roofing materials to a roof’s deck.

Is A Roofing Nail The Same As A Regular Nail?

Roofing nails have specialized applications, so they are different from regular nails.

First, roofing nails have a larger head than regular nails, which helps securely hold the shingles or other roofing materials in place, even in high winds or other severe weather conditions. 

Additionally, roofing nails have a short, sharp-pointed shank, which allows them to penetrate through the roofing materials and into the sheathing without causing damage. Some roofing nails have textured shanks, making it difficult for them to pop out. 

When it comes to the composition of roofing nails, they are typically made of galvanized steel or stainless steel, which helps prevent rust from exposure to wet weather. Roofing nails can also be made of copper or aluminum. On the other hand, regular nails may be made of various materials, such as steel and aluminum.

Roofing nails diameter and length: They are typically 1 “-3” long, have a head diameter of 14mm-20mm, and a shank diameter: of 2.10mm-4.19mm. For regular nails, the most common construction nail size used in framing and other construction projects is the 16d nail. A 16d nail is 3 1/2 inches long and has a diameter of 0.162 inches.

Why Do Roofers Use Nails Instead Of Screws?

First off, nailing is a faster process than screwing. This helps roofers to complete time-critical jobs quickly. 

Nails are also more flexible than screws, which is helpful in cases where the roofer wants to bend a nail for added security. Apart from flexibility, nails have shear strength.

Moreover, nails are cheaper than screws, helping contractors to keep material costs low.

Another reason for using nails could be compatibility – that is, many roofing materials are designed to work best with nails and not screws.

What Length Nail Is Best For Roofing?

There is no outright ‘best’ nail for roofing since the right nail length depends on various factors, including the type of roofing material and its thickness. 

Generally, roofing nails should be long enough to go through the roofing material and the underlying sheathing but not so long that they penetrate too far and damage the structure.

As much as there is no single ‘best nail length,’ here are some general guidelines for selecting the right nail length for common roofing materials:

Asphalt shingles: For standard three-tab asphalt shingles, the roofing nails typically used are the ones 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches long. You may need nails up to 2 inches long for thicker shingles or special jobs like roof-overs.

Wood shingles and shakes: Nails 1 ¾ to 2 inches long.

Metal roofing: Nails 1 to 1 ½ inches long are generally used.

Slate roofing: Spending on the slate’s thickness, you can use nails 1 ¾ to 2 ½ inches long.

These are just general guidelines; An experienced roofing contractor will know the best length of nails to use on your specific kind of roof. 

Are roofing nails supposed to go through? And how far should roofing nails penetrate?

Yes, roofing nails are designed to go through the roofing material and into the roof deck. Generally, roofing nails should penetrate the decking or sheathing by at least 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) but not more than 1 inch (2.5 cm). This allows the nail to securely fasten the roofing material without penetrating too deeply and potentially damaging the underlying structure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Roofing Nails

Why do roofing nails back out?

Roofing nails can pop out for many reasons, including temperature changes, extreme weather, poor installation, low-quality materials, or even old roof age. 

Do roofing nails rust?

Yes, roofing nails can rust over time if they are made of a material that is susceptible to corrosion and are regularly exposed to moisture for an extended period. 

Roofing nails are usually galvanized (coated with Zinc) to make them rust-proof. However, even galvanized nails can rust over time if the coating is damaged or if the nails are in extremely wet environmental conditions.

All About Siding Nails

What Are Siding Nails?

Siding nails are nails that are specifically designed for fastening siding materials.

What do siding nails look like?

Siding nails are typically longer and thinner than standard framing nails.

Are Roofing Nails And Siding Nails The Same?

To a layman, a nail is a nail. Still, a construction professional knows that roofing nails and siding nails have slight variations that enable them to perform well in their roles on a roof. 

Roofing nails are generally shorter and have a larger diameter than siding nails. They also have a wider head than siding nails, which helps secure the roofing material. The wider head also allows for easy removal when replacement is necessary. On the other hand, siding nails are longer and thinner than roofing nails. They have a smaller head to avoid splitting or cracking the siding material.

Are Nails Or Screws Better For Siding?

Nails are better than screws for siding for the same reasons nails are better than screws for roofing; faster installation, lower cost, shear strength, etc. 

How Long Should Siding Nails Be?

The length of siding nails typically falls within the range of 1 1/4 inches to 2 1/2 inches. However, the exact size needed will depend on the thickness of the siding material and the underlying sheathing or framing material.

How long should Hardie siding nails be?

Hardie recommends using siding nails 11/4 in. long to apply individual Hardie shingles to sheathing of minimum thickness 7/16 in. It is also recommended to use stainless steel fasteners to install James Hardie products.

How long should wood siding nails be?

The length of wood siding nails will depend on the thickness of the siding material and the underlying sheathing or framing material. A good rule of thumb is to use siding nails at least 1 1/2 times the thickness of the siding material being installed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Siding Nails

Why do nails pop out of siding?

Siding nails can back out for various reasons, including improper nailing technique, poor quality of nails, and natural expansion and contraction. 

Can you use galvanized nails for siding?

Yes. Galvanized nails are recommended for siding since their coating protects them from rust and corrosion from wet weather.  

Can roofing nails be used for siding?

While roofing nails can technically be used instead of siding nails, it is not recommended. Roofing nails are typically shorter than siding nails and have a larger head. The larger head can also cause the siding to split, especially if the siding material is thin or brittle.


We’ve talked about the long and short of roofing nails and siding nails. Now all that’s left to do is to contact us with your roofing or siding project. We guarantee that we’ll nail it!