While replacing or repairing a roof can save hundreds of labor costs, attempting a full roofing job with a hammer is not efficient, especially when you consider that most roofs require at least four nails per shingle. There are generally around 240 shingles per 100 square feet, which means that the roof of an average house contains hundreds of nails.
Roofing nailers make clapboard installation a lot easier. These roofing tools, powered by an air compressor and typically holding up to 120 nails, work similarly to other nailers with a triggering mechanism that shoots the nails through the roofing material. With their ability to fire more than 100 nails per minute, these powerful tools cut the time it takes to complete a roofing job significantly.
Read on whether you’re replacing a roof or just an old roofing tool to find out why the following recommendations are among the best roofing nailer options available.
- BEST OVERALL: BOSTITCH Coil Roofing Nailer (RN46)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WEN 61783 Pneumatic coil roof nailer
- ALSO CONSIDER: Metabo HPT roof nailer (NV45AB2)
What to consider when choosing the best roof nailer?
When purchasing a roofing nailer, it is important to consider important characteristics such as nail capacity and length, safety features, air pressure range, and weight.
Nail capacity and length
It is important to know what size nail you need before buying a nail gun. If your nails are too short, they are not holding your roof to the house adequately. If they are too long, the nails will protrude into the attic and pose a potential hazard to those moving around the attic. Most roofing nailers can handle nails from ¾ inch to 1¾ inch.
The nail capacity for roof nailers can range considerably from 60 to 120 nails. Larger capacities are more convenient, but add weight to the nailer. The roof requires a lot of nails, so most toolmakers make it easy to reload their roofing nailers with magazines that slide in and out of the compartments on the side of the device.
Weight determines how easy the nailer is to handle, which affects the accuracy, safety, and endurance of the user. A nailer that is easier to carry allows the user to make more precise nail placements, maintain a more stable balance on the roof, and work longer with less arm fatigue. Most nailers weigh around 5½ pounds, with some models weighing only 4½ pounds.
Air pressure range
A roofing nailer needs enough air pressure to drive the nail all the way through the roofing material without damaging the material, the roof, or the nailer. Most roofing nailers require a compressor that produces between 70 and 120 pounds per square inch (psi).
Too low a psi leaves the nails proud and sticking out of the roof. Too high a psi can drive the nail too deep into the roof and damage the shingles. It can even cause jams that can damage the nailer. Some roofing nailers have a handy dial that lets you adjust the nail depth so that you no longer have to climb down a ladder to make pressure adjustments on the air compressor.
Roof nailers, like finish and frame nailers, are among the more dangerous power tools to use. For this reason, most models are designed with safety features to reduce the chance of accidents.
All roofing nailers have a tip that the user must squeeze in order to fire nails. This will prevent you from accidentally shooting nails in the air. Some nailers also have switches that let you toggle between bump firing, which causes the nail to fire every time the tip is pressed, or the safer single-shot firing, which requires the user to pull the trigger to pull each nail to fire.
Most nailers also have interlock switches that prevent the tool from being accidentally or accidentally triggered. Another safety feature that many nailers include is rubberized sides to prevent the nailer from sliding off the roof and potentially injuring someone underneath.
Replacing a roof is a long process, with hundreds if not thousands of nails burned. A nailer with an ergonomically shaped handle and soft, rubberized handles reduces hand fatigue while ensuring that the nailer does not slip out of the user’s hand and fall to the ground.
Our top picks
The roof nailers listed below are characterized by a durable construction, high nailing capacities and low-maintenance designs. They come from some of the best known power tool manufacturers including Bostitch, Dewalt and Metabo.
With its versatile design, high capacity, and easy reloading, this roof nailer is suitable for both home improvement and professional contractors. It can fire both ¾ “and 1¾” nails and has adjustable depth controls that allow it to do a wide variety of roofing jobs. Five different depth settings enable concealed, countersunk and flat nails to be executed. Its aluminum construction makes this roofing nailer both durable and lightweight, and weighs less than 6 pounds.
A high capacity magazine holds 120 nails and speeds up work by reducing the number of reloads. With its ability to fire up to 100 nails per minute, this is an excellent option for larger roofs. When it’s time for more nails, a door has to be pushed open and the magazine replaced with a new spool while reloading. This nailer works with compressors that operate from 70 to 120 psi.
This affordable nailer is a great way to re-roof your home or do a manageable job while cutting costs. This model is about half the price of other roofing nailers, but it has great features including a 120 nail capacity and the ability to handle ¾ “to 1¾” nails.
An adjustable clapboard guide makes nail spacing an easy task for inexperienced roofers, while a tool-free adjuster makes it easy to set the correct nail depth. Other features to minimize delays while working include a cartridge on the side of the device that can be pulled out for quick reloading. A compartment near the tip is a quick way to clear nail jams. Other highlights include an adjustable exhaust valve that allows you to direct air away from your face and an ergonomic rubber handle that provides extra comfort.
Hitachi may have changed its name to Metabo, but nothing has changed in the quality of this manufacturer’s tools. While other nailers use plastic in their frame, the Metabo has a robust aluminum construction with a hard metal tip. Despite its durable metal construction, it remains surprisingly light at just 5.5 pounds, making it manageable from a roof. The ability to nail both ⅞ “and 1¾” nails offers great versatility, while a drive dial allows precise adjustments to nail depth.
With its ability to fire nails quickly – up to three per second – and a large capacity of 120 nails, this tool is a great option for everyday use on a professional construction site or for home improvement workers doing larger roofing jobs. Other practical functions are a tool-free depth adjuster and a side loading magazine that speeds up reloading. A rubber grip allows this nailer to be held securely, while rubber pads prevent it from sliding off the roof when not in use.
FAQs about your new roof nailer
If you’re still wondering about roofing nailers, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about these tools.
What is the difference between a siding nailer and a roofing nailer?
Although they look very similar, they cannot be used for the same purpose. Roofing nailers use different nails than siding nailers. Roofing nails are approximately 1¾ inches long while siding nails are approximately 2½ inches long. This means siding nails won’t fit into a roofing nailer.
What size air compressor do I need for a roof nailer?
The air compressor performance is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Because they fire longer and thicker nails with lower strength, roofing nailers require a higher CFM than ready-to-use nailers. You need a 4.0 CFM air compressor to power a roofing nailer, which is the same as a model with a 6 gallon tank.
Which is better: roof nails or staples?
While both staples and roofing nails offer the same wind resistance, roofing nails are generally easier to install correctly. This is because staples must be installed with the crown parallel to the length of the clapboard. This can be difficult when maneuvering on a roof. Since roof nails have round heads, the head does not need to be aligned.