The Right Roofing Nails For Your Next Project

Aug 10, 2023 | NEWS

When it comes to roofing projects, having the right materials is crucial for success. One key component that is often overlooked are the nails used to secure shingles and other roofing elements. While it may seem like a small detail, the type of nail used can make a big difference in the longevity and weather resistance of your roof. Two of the most common options for roofing nails are hot dipped galvanized coil nails and stainless steel coil nails. In this blog post, we’ll examine the key differences between these two nail varieties to help you make an informed decision for your next roofing project.

Roofing Nails

What are Coil Roofing Nails?

Coil nails are a specialized type of nail that have become a roofing industry standard. As the name implies, they are manufactured from coiled steel wire which is fed into nail-making machines to be cut and shaped into nails with collated heads. The collated head allows the nails to be loaded into pneumatic nail guns so roofers can quickly secure shingles and other materials. Coil nails are available with a variety of head styles and in an array of lengths to accommodate different roofing applications.

Hot Dipped Galvanized Coil Roofing Nails

One of the most popular options for coil roofing nails are hot dipped galvanized nails. Hot dip galvanizing is a process of applying a protective zinc coating to the nail to prevent corrosion. During manufacturing, the nails are submerged into molten zinc which adheres to the steel substrate and forms a durable coating. The hot dipped galvanizing process conforms to the nail head and shaft to provide 360 degree protection.

Galvanized roofing nails are prized for their exceptional corrosion resistance. The zinc coating protects the underlying nail, acting as a sacrificial anode. When the nail is exposed to moisture, the zinc will corrode first, shielding the steel from damage. This is essential for roofing applications where nails are subjected to outdoor weather elements including rain, snow, humidity, and fluctuating temperatures. The galvanized coating significantly extends the service life compared to non-coated steel nails which can rapidly rust and fail.

Many contractors prefer hot dipped galvanized coil nails as their go-to choice for most roofing jobs. They provide an affordable balance of corrosion resistance and durability for a wide range of residential and commercial projects. Galvanized roofing nails are suitable for use with nearly all common roofing materials including asphalt shingles, wood shingles and shakes, tile, slate, and metal panels. They are available in ring shank and smooth shank styles to provide optimal holding power. For most jobs, galvanized coil nails present the best value option.

Stainless Steel Coil Roofing Nails

For extremely demanding applications where maximum corrosion resistance is needed, stainless steel coil nails are also an option. As the name suggests, these nails are manufactured from stainless steel alloys rather than galvanized steel. The most common alloy used is Type 304 which contains chromium and nickel to make it highly resistant to corrosion and rust.

Stainless steel nails provide superior performance compared to galvanized nails in extreme environments. Whereas the zinc coating on galvanized nails acts as a sacrificial protection, stainless steel nails are inherently corrosion resistant thanks to their alloy composition. They can withstand prolonged exposure to moisture, UV rays, salt spray, and acidic pollutants without degrading. This makes them ideal for metal roofs and coastal areas where corrosive conditions are more prevalent.

The downside to stainless steel coil nails is their higher cost. They are significantly more expensive than standard galvanized nails which limits their use on budgets. However, for high value homes, historic restorations, or critical commercial buildings where re-roofing costs would be exorbitant, investing in stainless nails can pay dividends in the long run by extending the roof lifespan. Compared to needing to replace the roof prematurely, the upfront cost of stainless nails may be justified.

Stainless steel roofing coil nails are also favored when fixing copper, zinc, or other metal roofing panels. Their corrosion resistant properties ensure they will not interact negatively with metals and potentially cause discoloration or streaking. They also provide greater holding power in hard metals compared to galvanized. For any application where aesthetics and longevity are critical, stainless steel coil nails are the premium choice.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Your Roofing Nails

With an understanding of the differences between galvanized and stainless steel coil nails, here are several important factors to consider when deciding which is the best choice for your project:

  • Roofing Material – The type of shingles or panels being installed is a key determinant. Galvanized nails suffice for most standard materials including asphalt, wood, and slate. Stainless nails are advisable for metal roofs or chemically treated woods.
  • Environmental Factors – Consider the climate and exposure to moisture, humidity, pollutants, and salt spray. Galvanized nails work for most inland areas, while stainless nails provide an advantage in coastal regions or areas with industrial pollutants.
  • Budget – Stainless steel nails cost 2-3 times more than galvanized so budget constraints may limit their use. Their added cost may be justified for expensive roofs or critical structures.
  • Aesthetics – Stainless nails are recommended when appearance is important as they will not discolor or leak oxide stains onto surrounding materials.
  • Lifespan – How long must the roof hold up before replacement? Stainless nails provide the greatest long-term corrosion resistance for roofs expected to last 50 years or more.

By weighing all these criteria – the roofing materials used, environment, long-term performance, aesthetics, and budget – you can determine whether galvanized or stainless steel coil nails are the optimal choice for your upcoming roofing project. An investment in the right nails will keep your new roof securely protected from the elements for decades to come.