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What Are Roofing Nails Made of?

Dec 13


Although roofing nails might seem small, they are essential for roof installation. There's a high chance that you will have problems sooner than you think if you use smooth stainless steel nails where you should have used galvanized ring shanks.


As important as the type and length of the roofing nails used the overall project coordination questions like how many roofing nails are needed to complete a project, such as how many roofing nails will you need. Continue reading to find out the answers to all your roof nail questions.

The Most Common Roof Nail Materials

A nail's metal can have a significant impact on how strong it holds down shingles and how long it lasts. Most roofing nails are made of aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. Although we don't recommend using all types of roofing nails, some contractors may use them.


Because of their low cost, aluminum nails are very popular for roofing. These nails are used in simple roof projects across the country. Because of the salty atmosphere, it is best to avoid using aluminum nails in coastal areas and counties. Salt can quickly cause aluminum to rust and deteriorate. This can lead to shingle hold problems and blow offs. You don't want missing shingles on your beach house because aluminum was used in place of stronger stainless steel.

Stainless Steel

Steel nails are more corrosion-resistant than aluminum, and they are less expensive than the galvanized options that we will list below. Contractors prefer stainless steel roofing nails for areas where salt can cause problems, but costs must be kept low.

Stainless steel nails are stronger and can be used to fasten harder roof tiles such as ceramic or slate. Overall, stainless is a great option for roofing nails. It's better than aluminum, but it is not as good as the next option.

Galvanized Steel (Best Choice)

Galvanized steel roofing nails are also known as "hot dip galvanized roofing nails" or "galvanized nails". They are made from a steel base and then coated with zinc chemicals. This zinc coating makes a nail that is extremely rust-resistant and can be used to replace roofs in coastal areas. It's also the best nail you can use for any roof that has a warranty.


The nail's zinc exterior makes them stronger than aluminum and stainless steel alternatives. Galvanized steel is the best roofing material. It's also a popular choice for certified roofers who back their work with a reliable guarantee.


Copper roof nails are a more expensive option but can be used for most roofing projects. Copper roof nails can be used with slate roofing because they are stronger than steel.


Copper nails are popular for slate roofing. They last longer than galvanized roofing nails which can start to show signs of deterioration after the zinc coating has worn off. This may not seem like a major issue for asphalt shingle projects, but it is crucial for slate roofs as slate roofs can last up to 100 years. Copper spikes can also be damaged in slate roofing. In these cases, it is possible to remove the copper spikes without destroying the slate. Copper is a dark brown/gold color that is distinct from the other materials.

The Most Popular Types Of Roofing Nails

Is a nail just a nail, besides the material? Not quite… The shape of the nail can make a huge difference in its effectiveness for roofing and how efficiently it can be used during installation. There are many options.

Smooth Shank

The most common type of nail you will find on construction sites is the smooth shank nail. However, they are not the best for roofing. These shanks are the easiest to make and therefore the most affordable.


Smooth shanks have no grooves and are smooth unlike the screw- and ring-shank-style nails that we will be covering. They are easy to drive with a hand hammer. This makes them ideal for framing, finishing, and other carpentry tasks.

Withdrawal Resistance (Smooth Shanks are Bad for Roofing).

Smooth shank nails should not be used for roofing as they lack the hold required for architectural shingles and other types of tiles.

Contractors who use smooth shanks have unhappy customers. To put it another way, smooth shanks do not suit roofing services as they lack the withdrawal resistance needed for holding a shingle in its place.

Ring Shank

A shank is the long pointed end of a nail. The shank of ring shank nails has small grooves that give it a ribbed feel when touched. These grooves are used to displace wood fibers and create uneven holding when driving through the wood. Although it may sound unfavorable, this increases withdrawal resistance. The rings and deformed wood combine to make it more difficult to remove the nail. Let's take, for example, a nail and a screw in drywall.


You can easily pull the nail out of the wood if you have a smooth nail. It is much more difficult to pull the nail out of the wall if you use screws. Although a ring shank is not as resistant as a screw it can still be used to demonstrate the wood displacement that rings create.


This is why ring shanks are more stable than smooth shanks in high winds. They are therefore a popular choice for roofers across the United States. The ring shank is a great choice for nailing all kinds of tiles.

Screw Shank

Screw shank nails resemble screws and are hence called screw shank nails. Screw shank nails have the same grooves as screws, making them a great fastener for home projects that require a high hold. Screw shanks offer the best level of withdrawal resistance of all nail types, but they aren't the most widely used nails for roof replacement. Two reasons why this is so:


First, screw shank-style nails tend to be more expensive than ring shanks.

A second reason is that they are difficult to fit into hardwoods because of the high density of hardwood. Screw shanks are a good fastener for flooring and decking projects that require maximum holding power, regardless of cost. However, they don't make sense for most roofing jobs.


Read More: Proper Nailing is Essential to the Performance of Roof Shingles