How To Choose The Right Roofing Nail

Jason Hunt

When repairing or re-shingling a roof, many people make the mistake of assuming that "roofing nail" means one thing--and one thing only. Actually, there are several varieties of nail that are useful for different types of roofs. If you have plans to replace your roof, and would like to learn more about what type of roofing nail can best meet your needs, read on. This article will introduce you to two nail option factors and explain how each one affects the nail choice you should make.


There are three common materials used to manufacture roofing nails: aluminum, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. The primary distinctions between them lie mainly in price and their respective degrees of corrosion resistance. Aluminum nails are an inexpensive option and fairly corrosion resistant--that is, unless exposed to salt or chemicals. For that reason, aluminum nails are not a good choice for those living in coastal areas.

By comparison, stainless steel roofing nails can resist corrosion well in almost any situation. For that matter, so can galvanized nails, which are made of steel that has been coated with a layer of rust-resistant zinc. Galvanized nails are usually less expensive than stainless steel. And, at least where shingle roofs are concerned, both have similar lifespans.     

Shank Type

There are two parts to any nail: the head and the shank. Roofing nails come in three different shank types: ring shanks, screw shanks, and smooth shanks. The least expensive variety are smooth shank nails. Unfortunately, these also offer the least amount of support for your roofing, which will run a greater risk of working loose during bad weather.

Screw shank nails have two important attributes: a twisted, screw-shaped shank, and a diamond point tip. The screw shank helps the nail stay securely in place, and is especially effective for wood and pallet roofs. The diamond point tip allows the nail to easily penetrate even the toughest of roofing materials. This helps keep the underlying structural elements free of stress and damage.

As their name would imply, ring shank nails have a series of low rings along the shank. These help to keep the nail from working free once it's been driven in. Ring shank nails generally also have larger heads, giving them more surface area with which to hold down shingles. The main drawback of ring shank nails is that their tips are not usually as sharp as those of screw shank nails. This means that it is easier to accidentally damage the underlying roofing materials during installation.