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  • Writer's pictureScott G.

Understanding Roofing Nails: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to roofing, the importance of the right type of nail cannot be overstated. Whether you're installing shingles, tiles, or slate, selecting the proper roofing nails is crucial for ensuring a durable and secure roof. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive into the different types of roofing nails, their sizes, shank designs, and materials. By the end of this post, you'll have all the knowledge you need to make informed decisions for your next roofing project.

Types of Roofing Nails

Common Roofing Nails

Common roofing nails are the most widely used and come in various sizes. They are typically made from steel and feature a smooth shank. These nails are often used for securing asphalt shingles and other standard roofing materials.

Roofing Nails for Shingles

1 1/4" Roofing Coil Nails
Roofing Coil Nails

For asphalt shingles, the ideal choice is galvanized roofing nails. These nails have a rust-resistant coating, making them perfect for outdoor use. The recommended size for shingle nails is usually 1 to 2 inches in length, with a flat head and a diamond point for easy penetration and secure holding power. Typically we use 1 1/4" coil nails in our guns.

Roofing Nails for Tiles and Slate

When it comes to heavier materials like roofing tiles and slate, you need nails that offer extra strength and durability. Copper or stainless steel nails are commonly used for slate roofing, as they provide excellent corrosion resistance. For tile roofing, stainless or copper nails are preferred due to their resistance to rust and the ability to hold heavy materials securely. We acutally prefer to use copper or stainless with ring shank on the shaft as they tend to hold longer with time.

Nail Sizes and Shank Designs

Nail Sizes

The size of roofing nails is crucial for ensuring proper installation. Here's a quick guide to the recommended nail sizes for different roofing materials:

  • Asphalt Shingles: 1 to 2 inches

  • Wood Shingles: 1.5 to 2.5 inches

  • Slate Tiles: 1.5 to 3 inches

  • Clay or Concrete Tiles: 2 to 3 inches

Shank Designs

The shank of a nail is the part that penetrates the roofing material. Different shank designs offer various benefits:

  • Smooth Shank: Commonly used for asphalt shingles, these nails are easy to drive and provide adequate holding power.

  • Ring Shank: Featuring rings or ridges along the shank, these nails offer superior holding power and are ideal for high-wind areas. They are often used for wood shingles and shakes.

  • Spiral Shank: These nails have a twisted shank that provides exceptional holding power. They are typically used for slate and tile roofing.

Materials of Roofing Nails


Steel nails are the most common and versatile option. They are strong and affordable, making them a popular choice for various roofing materials. However, untreated steel can rust, so it's essential to use galvanized or stainless steel for roofing applications.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel nails are coated with zinc to prevent rusting. This makes them ideal for asphalt shingles and other roofing materials exposed to the elements.


Copper nails are highly resistant to corrosion and are commonly used for slate and tile roofing. Their durability makes them an excellent choice for long-lasting roofs.


Aluminum nails are lightweight and resistant to rust, making them suitable for tile roofing. However, they may not be as strong as steel or copper nails.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel nails offer the best corrosion resistance and strength. They are often used for slate and tile roofing, as well as in coastal areas where saltwater can accelerate corrosion.

Choosing the Right Roofing Nails

Selecting the right roofing nails depends on several factors, including the type of roofing material, the environment, and the specific requirements of your project. Here are some tips to help you choose the best nails for your needs:

  1. Consider the Material: Different roofing materials require different types of nails. Ensure you're using nails designed for the specific material you're working with.

  2. Check for Corrosion Resistance: If you're working in a wet or coastal environment, opt for nails with high corrosion resistance, such as galvanized, copper, or stainless steel.

  3. Use the Correct Size: Ensure you're using the appropriate nail size for your roofing material to provide adequate holding power and penetration.

  4. Select the Right Shank Design: Choose a shank design that offers the holding power needed for your specific roofing material and environmental conditions.

Understanding the different types of roofing nails is essential for a durable and secure roof. By selecting the right nails for your specific roofing material, you can ensure the longevity and integrity of your roof. If you have any questions or need professional roofing services, Birmingham Roofs is here to help. Contact us today at (205) 593-4487 for expert advice, high-quality materials, and top-notch roofing solutions in Alabama. Trust Birmingham Roofs for all your roofing needs!


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