Roof installation: Hand nailing or nail gun?

Roof installation: Hand nailing or nail gun?

From preparing the roof to installing leak barriers to applying the shingles, a roof installation requires an expert eye and lots of experience. Beyond expertise, the techniques that a roof installer employs also matter. Learn the benefits of hand nailing versus nail gun installation before replacing the roof of your Fayette home.

Know thy roof

Talk to your roofer about which method is right for your home. In most cases, the decision to hand nail or use a nail gun depends on the roof itself. Here are the factors that will dictate the roofer's decision to use a gun or install nails by hand.


Before installing the roof, the contractor will inspect the sheathing. In many homes, wood materials are used for sheathing. If the sheathing is damaged, it should be replaced to ensure there are few gaps. The roofer should also inspect existing sheathing for gaps. If there are too many gaps in the sheathing, the installer should avoid using a nail gun, as it won't secure the shingle to the sheathing. Hand nailing the material is the better way to go, since expert installers can feel their way through the process and know if they've hit a gap.

Installers will opt to use a nail gun when the sheathing is gap free. Plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing are two materials in which a nail gun works well, as it's an efficient, comprehensive method for installing shingles. Hand nailing, on the other hand, is not ideal, as it leads to inconsistent nailing, vibration on the roof and fatigue of installers.

Shingle type

In general, standard-quality shingles cannot withstand the force of the nail gun and are easily damaged. Higher-quality shingles are specifically designed for use with a nail gun. If you're opting for a standard shingle, be sure the roofer hand nails the material. If you're going with a premium shingle, nail guns are OK to use.


The roofer you hire should have the expertise to use hand-nailing techniques and know when to employ them. Other factors, such as the roof deck preparation, along with sheathing and shingle type, dictate the best roof installation method.

For answers to your questions about roof installation, contact Findlay Roofing today! We're happy to help you with installation, repairs and maintenance.

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