Roofing is hard, so getting the best roofing nailer to help you out should be paramount. The job requires balance, stability, precision, and safety, and any professional contractor would tell you that the essential part of any project is a decent set of tools
We did the research decided to prepare this guide to help you in your pursuit. After you are done reading, we invite you to take a look at the roofing nailer reviews and find a model that fits your requirements in the best possible way. No matter if you are renewing your roofing, or making a new roof, a roofing nailer can help you do everything faster, more efficient, and above all – safer. Let’s dig in!
Who Can Benefit from Using a Roofing Nailer?
For a long time, people thought that nail guns, especially dedicated ones, are reserved for professionals only. As a matter of fact, roofing is far safer if you use a roofing nailer. Once you get the hang of it, which goes by really fast, you will instantly forget about the hammer on the roof. So, no matter if you are a fresh DIYer or not, a roofing nailer will certainly be helpful.
Technically speaking, there are three particular types of situations that can go way smoother with the help of a proper roofing nailer:
- Making a new roof – putting new roofing on will largely decide whether or not you get to fight mold in your attic. All sorts of modern materials are shaped into shingles and roofed to the frame of the roof. A properly done roofing job can prolong the lifespan of your roof by more than a year.
- Re-roofing – there is no indestructible roofing material out there. Naturally, once small fixes stop working, it is time to reapply a fresh new layer of roofing shingles. While the frame stays the same, the new shingles should be installed safely and tightly, with the help of an adequate roofing nailer.
- Patching a roof – hail and strong winds can sometimes take a shingle or two off the roof. This might sound like a minor nuisance, but even a single shingle missing can destroy an attic if the weather is humid. Although you can tackle the task of replacing a single shingle with a hammer, using a roofing nailer will help you approach the job with consistency.
Versatile, but sometimes too powerful
Truth be told, there are other jobs you could do with a roofing nailer, but that is not what we’d recommend. Roofing nailers use roofing nails and a higher force to drive the nails through. If you wanted to use your roofing nailer for other jobs, the nature of the material would dictate whether it’s possible or not. Weaker materials are not designed to withstand that much pressure, so the roofing nail gun might come off as too strong.
The Upsides and Downsides of Roofing Nailers
A lot of tools heavily rely on the wielder’s skill and experience. This stands true even for roofing nail guns. Although you will quickly get the hang of how a roofing nailer works, there are some advantages that might make your roofing jobs easier, quicker, and most importantly – safer.
1. The Upsides of Roofing Nailers
As you might already know, nailing the roofing shingles properly can affect the whole construction (e.g. house). You can achieve similar (but never the same) results by using another type of nailer, or you can get into it manually with a hammer. But some benefits are clearly there, regardless of your experience level:
- Safer roofing – here, we are not referring to the safety of a nail gun as a tool. Instead, we’d like to emphasize the seriousness of this job my mentioning a tricky position you can find yourself in, especially if you are using a hammer to do the roofing. Standing on an elevated construction and swinging a heavy tool is not exactly the safest situation. That is why a nailer lets you dig in, and drive the nails in a subtler manner.
- Faster nail driving – no matter what kind of firing mechanism you choose, a roofing nail gun will allow you to follow your own rhythm and drive as many nails the magazine allows. Speaking of:
- More nails in less time – if you opt for a coil roofing nailer, you can fire up to 300 (or sometimes even more) nails without even having to reload the gun. Just imagine having to reset every ten or so nails that you need to drive in by hand using a hammer.
- Learning curve – lastly, the biggest benefit of using a roofing nailer is how quickly you get into it. If you are a total beginner, drive a few test nails through a surface you don’t need anymore (waste materials) and you will be ready. Of course, the finesses come with time and experience, but the basic nail gun-wielding can be learned pretty quickly and effortlessly.
2. The Downsides of Roofing Nailers
There aren’t that many downsides of owning and using a roofing nail gun. This tool is, in its essence, a pneumatic nail gun that drives nails dedicated and designed for roofing materials. One of the cautions, however, that you should care about is the safety aspect. It is even in the name nail GUN.
The safety aspects start with the locks on the gun, of course, but if you are not careful, some serious injuries may occur. As a matter of fact, a large chunk of workplace-related injuries is from nail guns of some sort. So, read the safety manual of the model you wish to use, and do a few test shots. Usually, misfires (if there even are any) occur in the first few dozens of nails.
Best Roofing Nailers Comparison Chart
MAX CN445R3 Coil Roofing Nailer
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BOSTITCH RN46 Coil Roofing Nailer
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HBT HBCN45P Coil Roofing Nailer
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WEN 61783 Coil Roofing Nailer
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Metabo HPT NV45AB2 Coil Roofing Nailer
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AeroPro CN45N Professional Roofing Nailer
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Best Roofing Nailer Reviews
1. MAX CN445R3 Coil Roofing Nailer
Max is a company that has had its players in the tool game for quite some time now. Their prime coil roofing nailer certainly has a lot to show for. The outer design is red and metallic gray and the handle has extra rubber on, so you can work those extra long hours on the roof. The design of the magazine supports collated nails, and it is easy to reload with the side-load mechanism.
When it comes to practicalities, you can expect a few quality-of-life features from this roofing nail gun. For example, inside the firing mechanism, there is a built-in magnet that holds the last nail in place. This system prevents misfires, thus making the nailer way more effective. Another well-designed feature is the tar resistant nose that doesn’t stick to the surface, nor does it chafe or damage it in any way.
- An excellent roofing nail gun, both for beginners and professionals.
- The handle is ergonomic and prevents hand fatigue, and the magazine loads super-fast
- Next to mentioned features, the intake valve rotates, which gives you more reach with the pressurized air hose attached
- There is no provided tool to unjam the nailer if a nail gets stuck, but thanks to the magnet mechanism, it rarely happens.
2. BOSTITCH RN46 Coil Roofing Nailer
If you spent a single hour in any workshop, you have most certainly seen a Bostitch power tool of some sort. With its familiar black and yellow design and a coil magazine, this roofing nailer will help you get those shingles up and ready in no time. The handle under the trigger is rubberized and it has a blocky pattern to prevent slipping. The whole body is made mostly of aluminum, making the nailer lighter than average.
The round coil magazine clips in at a 15° angle, which makes it easier for you to reload, and it shifts the weight of a fully-loaded nailer towards your hand, thus relieving some muscle tension in your arm. This particular roofing nailer is quite beginner-friendly thanks to its weight, ergonomic shape, and the loading mechanism.
- Lightweight and ergonomic, a great entry-level model with high-end performance
- The coiled magazine is loaded from the sided and it is tilted towards the handle at a 15° angle
- The adjustable drive depth allows you to adapt the nailer to different roof framing and shingle sizes
- You can expect some misfires in the beginning, but those go away before the very first clip is even half-empty
3. HBT HBCN45P Coil Roofing Nailer
If you are looking for a full set that will get you through the roofing process with ease, this HBT might be the one for you. It is an entry-level roofing nail gun with a great price-to-performance ratio that comes with a little extra gear. Besides the roofing nail gun, you also get a hard case to store and carry it, as well as a pair of protective goggles, and a set of tools to help you maintain the tool. The outer design is black with the yellow exhaust, which has a 360° rotation, so you can turn the exhaust away from you at any time or in any situation.
The driving depth is adjustable, and the wear guards are skid-resistant, thus preventing wear and tear on contact. This particular nail gun comes with two different firing modes – contact and sequential mode, so you can adjust the roofing nailer to your habits.
- A set that includes a roofing nail gun, a hard case to store and carry it, a pair of protective goggles, and a set of tools for maintenance.
- The magnesium used in the build reduces arm and hand fatigue
- There is an installed adjustable shingle guide that helps you space out the shingles between nail driving
- The smallest nails you can sue with this nail gun are 7/8 inch and not ¾ like the similar models. This should not be a problem in the vast majority of roofing jobs nowadays.
4. WEN 61783 Coil Roofing Nailer
WEN is another giant name in the tools industry. Their recognizable black and orange design can be spotted on this model as well, and this particular roofing nail gun comes with extra stuff as well. Included in the basic package, you also get hex wrenches to help you with tool maintenance, oil to lubricate the air canals inside, and a hard case to help you store and carry the nailer.
When it comes to features, you will be happy to hear that this roofing nailer has an adjustable shingle guide and customizable driving depth control. This makes the nailer suitable to support all sorts of shingles and roofing frame thickness combinations. The coil magazine holds up to 120 nails (depending on their size) and you can load it pretty fast from the side.
- An excellent set for beginners. It comes with a hard case, lubricating oil and a set of hex wrenches for tool maintenance
- The shingle spacing adjustability will speed up your roofing process by a large margin, even if you are inexperienced
- A great price-to-performance ratio, even though it is a budget-class roofing nailer
- An occasional misfire or double nailing can happen, especially in the beginning, before you get the hang of the gun
5. Metabo HPT NV45AB2 Coil Roofing Nailer
The Metabo HPT used to be known by a different name – Hitachi. And if you ever used a Hitachi power tool, you certainly know that they mean business. The casing is industrial in design, with a rubberized handle that reduces hand fatigue by absorbing the shock that comes from driving nails and recoil. The magazine is coiled, and it loads pretty easily form the side. This coil is also tipper at a 15° angle, a feature that also reduces stress on the hand and arm by shifting the weight of the nailer towards the hand.
Now, the performance of this nailer is top-notch. Little to no misfires occur, and even though it is a bit heavier, you won’t get tired easily thanks to its design. Its push lever is carbide tipped, which furtherly increases the durability of this roofing nailer.
- The Metabo HPT (ex Hitachi) comes with a lot of features, including a pneumatic power feed that allows roofing in bad weather
- The depth of drive can be adjusted on the go, no tools required
- The shape of the handle and the angle of the magazine reduce prolonged hand and arm fatigue
- The lower nail size limit is not ¾ inch, it is 7/8 inch instead
6. AeroPro CN45N Professional Roofing Nailer
This AeroPro roofing nailer is somewhat new, relative to the old-school players in the power tools game. It has all the necessary standard features, with a little extra. The overall design is black with red accents on the trigger. The housing is made of heat-treated aluminum, which makes this particular roofing nail gun model super durable. The magazine is coiled and it can hold up to 120 coils at a time. Additionally, the magazine is loaded easily from the side – just slide it in once you reload it.
With this roofing nailer, you can approach any roofing job – it has an adjustable depth of drive and it is extra durable thanks to the aluminum body. On top of that, you can choose between two most conventional firing modes – sequential and contact fire.
- A beginner-friendly roofing nail gun with all the standard features for a great price
- The body is made of heat-treated aluminum which increases the overall durability of the nailer
- The magazine can hold up to 120 collated nails in a single load, and it loads in a single action (from the side)
- The contact trigger can seem a bit slower until you get used to it. It is a bit stiffer than average
What is a Roofing Nailer?
While nailing equipment usually sounds intuitive, we are aware of the fact that it can all get somewhat confusing. Nail guns come in various shapes and sizes, usually affected by the role they play. It is not hard to guess that a roofing nailer is designed to help you with the sole act of roofing. But, what does it all means?
As you probably already know, nail guns are tools that have the ability to drive a nail through a surface or multiple surfaces in some cases. This force is generated by an air compressor. The air gets compressed, travels through the hose, and gets used to drive the nail by shooting it out of the nailer’s nozzle.
Roofing nail guns are known for their ability to drive the nails through the material with a mightier force, compared to, for example, top-rated siding nailers. Roofing shingles need to stay in place for at least 10 years (on average) and it all falls to the trustworthy roofing nailer.
Another thing to bear in mind is that roofing nailers use nails with a broader head. A roofing nail will sometimes even have an “umbrella head” that keeps the shingle from tearing around the edges of the nail. Another common feature of a roofing nail is a slight twist along the longer axis. These nails are known to hold longer and provide excellent withdrawal resistance.
Roofing Nailers Buying Guide
Next to knowing how and when to utilize a roofing nail gun, it is important to learn how to pick one. In the next couple of sections, we would like to address the finer details you should have in mind before making the final decision. Feel free to make a checklist of your own based on our guide, and get the right nailer for your needs.
1. Magazine Shape and Size
People who are planning to do the complete roofing (or re-roofing) should consider the magazine first. Over the course of several days (or a single day, if you are skilled) you will drive a lot of nails through the roofing frame. Some will misfire, and some nails will maybe have to be driven by hand, but one thing is certain – there will be a LOT of nails during the process.
So, why is magazine size so important? Well, the biggest benefit is not having to go down the ladder all the time to reload. Simple as that – you can get a roofing nailer with up to 300 nails in a single-coil magazine.
While there are some roofing nail guns out there that still use the straight magazine, we recommend looking into a coil nailer. These magazines can easily be recognized by their round shape. A coil magazine uses collated nails that are held together by wire, plastic, or paper.
2. Nail Size and Drive Adjustment
Every type of nail comes with a standard range of nail sizes it supports. When it comes to roofing nail guns, we are talking about nail size range from ¾ inch to 1 ¾ inch. This should be enough for any type of roofing job, except maybe for some industrial and heavy-weight projects. But, if you are a DIYer, the chances are that not everything is going to be ideal on the construction site.
When it comes to roof framing, some parts will be thicker and some will be thinner, but the chances are small that everything will be the same size. That is why you need a nail gun that can adapt the drive depth. With this slight adjustment, you will be able to cover a lot of different materials (from wood to asphalt and metal).
Another good example of a situation where depth drive needs to be adjusted is the roof fixing. Sometimes, you just can’t find the exact shingle sample to fix a leak or breakage, so you have to improvise. That’s where a versatile roofing nail gun shines the brightest.
3. Weight and Ergonomics
You are probably aware of the fact that roofing is a process that requires experience, balance, and above all – patience. The whole roofing process needs to be done as precisely as possible because a whole lot depends on the quality of the roof. And, as precise jobs go, the chances are you are going to spend significant amounts of time with the roofing nailer in your hand. For that reason alone, it is important to pick a model that has an enhanced grip, usually with rubber, that can absorb a chunk of the shock from nail driving. Let’s not forget that these pneumatic machines exert a lot of force, and are a force not to be messed with.
Besides having the rubberized shock-absorbing handle, it is also a smart call to look at the total weight of the roofing nailer you want to get. Though, bear in mind that you must also add the weight of the collated nails you plan to use. After all, they are made of metal, and there is a lot of them, which makes the total go up significantly.
4. Trigger Mechanism
Another part of the safety and ergonomics aspects combined is the variety of trigger mechanisms that the roofing nailer has to offer. Some are safer, and some are faster, so you get to adapt the nailer to your own rhythm and work style. The main trigger modes you can find on a roofing nail gun are:
- Contact trigger – the name says it all – you depress the tip of the nail gun into the roofing shingle and the nail drives through on contact. This is possible only if the proper safety lock is unlatched. However, please be careful with contact fire mode because, despite it being the fastest way to drive nails, it is also the most dangerous.
- Two-step safety – this is the trigger mechanism recommended to novice handymen before they get enough experience to switch. With a 2-step fire, you need to press 2 different spots for the nail to come out – the first one boing on the thumb, and the second lock on the index finger (similar to a handgun).
- Sequence trigger – this firing mode requires a bit of rhythm. It is a 3-step per 2 nails trigger mode. It works like this: push the nailer against the shingle and pull the trigger for the 1st nail, hold the trigger and lift the nailer, and release the finger to drive the 2nd This mode might be the most complicated one, but some people simply prefer it to other firing modes.
5. The Nose Tip
One often overlooked feature is the quality of the nose tip. This is the part of the nailer that touches the material you need to nail down, and as such, it should have a few qualities on its own.
- Nose tips should always touch the surface at a 0° angle. If the nails go in within a certain angle, the shingle is bound to loosen up earlier than the rest.
- Some roofing nail guns have an anti-sticking part on the nose tip. This is installed to protect the nose tip from damages caused by the asphalt and other chemicals used to strengthen the roofing shingle.
6. Exhaust Vent
Lastly, we must consider the exhaust vent on a roofing nailer. These machines use highly-pressurized air to drive the nails through the material, but the air doesn’t follow the nail. Instead, the air gets out through a designated vent, and if it is not regulated correctly, it can blow dust or sand into your eyes. That is why roofing nailers (and some other types) have a rotating exhaust on the backside, allowing you to adapt it and direct the air vent away from yourself. Do not underestimate the power of pressurized air, it is the reason why protective gloves are required to operate such machines all around the world for a reason.
FAQ About Roofing Nailers
1. How far should roofing nails penetrate?
The depth of penetration when it comes to roofing isn’t universal. However, there are some pointers that can help you decide how to approach the task at hand, no matter if it is roofing or re-roofing. Depending on the thickness of the roofing deck (and the thickness of the shingles), you can end up in one of two scenarios:
- The thickness of the deck and the shingle combined is exceeding the nail length – if this is the case, you should drive then nail about ¾ of an inch into the deck. Remember to drive the nail straight into the frame so you do not risk shedding or other damages.
- The thickness of the deck and the shingle combined is less than the nail length – while this is rarely the case, you should be prepared. Driving the nail through the frame is fine, but you should be careful not to overdo it. An eighth of an inch sticking out the other side is the safe route to take.
2. Can I use my roofing nailer for other nailing tasks?
Nailers are not exactly rocket science. They drive nails through materials, with some quality of life features on the side. But there is a reason why we have all these various types of nailers nowadays. To get the best out of a nail, it needs to be the right size and the driving depth needs to be adapted to the material and the nail’s function. That is why we do not recommend using a roofing nailer for tasks like siding, framing, or finishing.
A roofing nailer may get the job done, but the potential damages due to inadequate nail driving are just not worth it. However, if you have a simple nailing job around the house, a roofing nail gun will prove to be a valuable assistant, as long as you take the necessary precautions.
3. Can I use my other nailer for roofing?
This question bothers many DIYers, and for a reason. Completing a nailing gun set can be a tedious (and expensive) objective. Some people try to get their hands on customizable top-rated siding nailers that can also be used for roofing. While this might sound like the way to go, we would not recommend it. Roofing nailers are designed specifically for installing roof shingles onto the roofing frame. These guns are adjusted to match the nail size, driving depth, driving pressure, etc. Actually, the only method that is reliable, besides a roofing nailer, is the good old hammer-in-hand. But, that takes forever, and a roofing nailer will get the job done in no time.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about while picking out the best roofing nailer for yourself. These machines are powerful, and each has something slightly different to offer. We suggest you make a check-list of all the features you want and use it to pick out a proper model. Roofing is hard on its own, so why not make it much easier by replacing the good old hammer with a pneumatic roofing nailer.
The roofing nailer reviews section shows different models for people with different tool habits. All in all, with a steady roofing nailer in your hand, you will be done with the job way faster than you expected. As long as you remember to follow the safety procedures, because – these nail guns are no joke. Enjoy your work, and stay safe!