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Are nails or staples better? What about hand nailing?

HandNailing Roofing Austin TexasWhen economical, high-power air staplers were introduced, many roofers began using them to attach the underlayment to the deck. Staples were less expensive, and staple guns made the job go faster. Naturally, it was just a matter of time before these staplers were used to attach shingles.

In Central Texas, using staples instead of nails is a bad idea. First, staples do not have the same “holding power” as nails, especially in areas that can receive sustained winds or gusts in the 60 mph range. Second, staples have a smaller diameter than nails, meaning they can rust through faster. Therefore, although staples might be an acceptable alternative in a climate that receives very little precipitation and only gentle breezes, they are not good for use in the Austin area.

This is not to say that staples are ever the preferred choice. All of the major shingle manufacturers, including GAF, Owens-Corning and TAMKO, recommend using nails instead of shingles. GAF issued a technical advisory on the topic in 2011, warning that many municipal building codes forbid the use of staples for attaching shingles and stating that the manufacturer’s warranty would not cover any issues, including blow-offs, that were caused by using staples. Owens Corning and TAMKO both include a statement in their installation instructions advising that nails are the preferred choice for attaching their shingles.

Hand Nailing vs. Nail Guns

If you ask 10 roofing contractors whether hand nailing is better than attaching shingles with nail guns, you are likely to find that they are evenly divided on the topic. There are times when hand nailing will give better results, but there are also times when using a nail gun makes sense. You should trust your roofing contractor’s judgment on the issue after he has made a careful evaluation of your roof.

The question of which to use depends on several factors, such as the hardness of the wood used for your decking and the type of shingles to be installed. In many cases, an experienced installation crew may employ both techniques on the same roof, using a nail gun where it makes the most sense and hand nailing when needed.

With a well-trained, highly experienced crew, either method will typically work. At Alpha Roofing, we have such crews. Our commitment is to quality results rather than a particular method. We will make the decision on what is best for your specific roof. We have more than three decades of industry experience, which allows us to recognize and avoid potential problems that can vary dramatically from roof to roof. We offer an extensive range of roof-top services, including chimney and skylight repairs, debris removal and flashing installation as well as siding installation and repair. You can reach us at (512) 777-1086, or submit our online form to request your free quote.