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HomeExclusiveWhere Do You Nail Roofing Shingles

Where Do You Nail Roofing Shingles

What Type Of Nails For Sheathing

How to Nail Roof Shingles | Mastering the Roof by GAF

If you need to install new roof decking or OSB, youll need to nail it to the roof truss. There are fewer requirements for these nails than those used to secure shingles. Common nails, or even wood screws, may be acceptable nails for OSB roof sheathing. You should check with your building code and local bylaws to confirm.

Remove The Old Shingles

  • 1.1 – Remove the old shingles and roofing felt with a roofer’s shovel. Pry out nails.
  • 1.2 – Sweep the roof as clean as possible and run a scraper over the decking to check for nails that might have been missed.
  • 1.3 – Inspect the plywood or particle board and replace any damaged or rotten boards. Panels must be at least ½” thick.
  • 1.4 – Nail down or screw in any boards that are raised or loose.
  • 1.5 – Install a metal or vinyl drip edge directly on the plywood the length of the eaves. Nail at 12″ intervals and lap each section by 2″. Use snips to cut the corners.
  • 1.6 – Verify that soffit and ridge vents are not obstructed.

Underlayment Requirements For Asphalt Roof Shingles

The roof deck should be sound and level before laying the underlayment. Fifteen-pound or heavier felt underlayment is required by code in some areas. Whether or not it is required, underlayment is cheap insurance against problems. There are several good reasons to install underlayment:

  • It protects the roof deck from rain before the roofing is installed.
  • It provides an extra weather barrier in case of blowoffs or water penetration through the roofing or flashings.
  • It protects the roofing from any resins that bleed out of the sheathing.
  • It helps prevent unevenness in the roof sheathing from telegraphing through the shingles.
  • It is usually required for the UL fire rating to apply .

Details about the requirements and benefits of roofing underlayments are at these articles:

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Eaves Flashing Recommendations For Asphalt Shingle Roofs

The best defense against ice dams in cold climates is a so-called cold roof, consisting of high levels of ceiling insulation separated from the roof surface by a free-flowing vent space


Where a cold roof cannot be achieved due to complex roof shapes, unvented roofs, or retrofit constraints, ice dams may form during severe winters, in some cases, causing pooled water to wet wall cavities and interiorfinishes.

Where adequate insulation and ventilation cannot be assured, self-adhering bituminous eaves flashing should be installed. The membrane should go from the lower edge of the roof to a point at least 24 inches inside the interior wall line .

How Many Nails Per Square

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Estimating your roofing materials is key to your success, so youll want to know how many nails youll use in a square. That depends on the exposure and coverage of your shingles. With higher coverage, youll lay down fewer shingles in a square and therefore use fewer nails. For example, when using Cambridge shingles, youll use roughly 240 nails, because of their Advantage size. If youre installing by the High Wind Application, youll use two more nails a shingle, so 360 nails per square.

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Applying The Right Pressure

Not applying pressure to a nail properly will leave the nails too high which will cause a hump in the shingle above it. Wind can then blow up and under the shingles causing it to lift and potentially blow off, or overtime, it can rub through the top shingle causing a nail “pop” which in turn will cause a leak.

If too much pressure is applied then nails are considered “over-driven” or “blown through”. They will not hold the shingle because the nails have been blown too deep which will cause the shingles to potentially slide down the roof or blow off because there is nothing holding the shingle down.

When hand nailing, the head of a hammer is much larger and when it hits the nail, it lands flat on the roof’s surface. It’s very uncommon to have nails that have been over-driven when hand nailing simply because they don’t have the pressure from the compressor like the air guns do.

When installing shingles over the roof’s decking, a lot of the nails get driven between the wood, which in turn needs to be removed and replaced to a better location. Hand nailers can feel when this happens and can easily make corrections as they go. Air nailers cant feel this so they become overlooked and eventually, nails will rise and leaks will happen.

Proper Nailing Techniques For Optimal Performance Of Asphalt Shingles

Roofing shingles have specific guidelines for how they should be fastened to your roof. They relate primarily to the quantity, location, and driving method of the roofing nails.

Proper installation is essential for optimum shingle performance and for compliance with the International Building Code. Learn where and how to nail shingles to ensure performance and holding power.

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Where To Nail Starter Strip Shingles

Starter strip shingles should be nailed 3 to 4 from the bottom of the shingle. Nailing too close to the bottom edge risks the nails being exposed in between the gaps of the first course of standard roofing shingles. Nailing the shingles too high may allow more movement in the shingle, damaging the sealant strip.

How Reliable Is A Modern Roofing Nail Gun

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Modern roofing nail guns are very reliable.

As you might expect, there have been vast improvements in roofing nail guns. This past summer, I had the pleasure of working with a Paslode impulse roofing nailer that drove thousands of nails into my shed roof with not one misfire. Each nail was driven perfectly so the underside of the nail head was snug against the top surface of the shingle.

Here’s the exact nailer I used on my roof. It was a pleasure to use and never misfired. CLICK THE IMAGE NOW TO ORDER ONE.

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What Goes Under Cedar Shingles

The order is: sheathing, pink paper, black paper, pink, black, shingles. There is no lath the shingles are right against the black paper. There is no evidence of water damage to the sheathing, but there are countless layers of paint on the shingles too .

Is cedar breather necessary? It is necessary to have vents on a cedar roof. Older cedar roofs in the Chicago area are prone to extreme heat build-up in the attic beneath them due to their extreme sizes and pitches. Nearly every roof we’ve replaced has clearly needed more ventilation added to give it a better chance at lasting 50 years.

How To Fix Nail Pops In A Roof

Nails can pop above the roof surface for a number of reasons. Perhaps they were underdriven in the first place. Nails that didnt fully penetrate the sheathing may work their way up over time. Or, if a roofs decking has warped or bent, it can pull nails out of place. Whatever the cause, its important to fix any nail pops in a roof to prevent damage.

Fixing the nails is simply a matter of removing them, removing the shingle and installing a new shingle. Be sure you to use the correct nail length and place it properly.

Do not simply hammer the nail down, renail it in the same spot, or use the same shingle. All of these methods could allow water through the roof. For example, if you remove the nail and drive it back into the same spot, your aim wont be perfectly accurate. There will be a tiny gap on one side of the nail or the other. Even if it is imperceptible to you, water will find it.

If you use the same shingle and add the nail back in a different spot, youre leaving behind a hole where the nail once was. Some suggest you fill this hole with roofing cement, but this repair option must be done carefully to maintain the roofs water-shedding performance.

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Install The Flashing On Your Roof

The second step in your how to install asphalt roof shingles guide is to get any roof flashing in place that is not already there. Every one of the valleys in your roof, or the sections where one part of your roof runs into another part at a different angle, needs to have flashing added in. Roll out flashing in each of these sections and lock it down using roofing nails at the outside edges while leaving the center free of any nails. Nailing too close to the center of this flashing will result in leaks through your roof. As you are installing the shingles around valley flashing you have to remember to apply roofing cement underneath each row of shingles up close to the valley.

Also add flashing where the roof buts up against a wall of the house in the case of dormers or a multi-tiered roof and add flashing around any chimneys or skylight windows to protect them against the elements.

Offsets Between Shingle Courses Requirements For Asphalt Shingle Roofs

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Successive courses are typically offset 6 inches on a 36-inch shingle in a stepped fashion, making cutouts align every other course and butt joints align every seventh course .

For a more random pattern where cutouts align only every eighth course, offset shingles only five inches.

Both of these patterns effectively resist leakage, but the 5-inch offset may provide longer wear since water will not be channeled down the cutouts thereby eroding the stone topping.

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Calculating How Many Shingles Do I Need

How to Measure Your Roof:

  • Use a tape measurer to find the length and width of each section of your roof.
  • Multiply each section of your Roofs Length x Roofs Width = Roofs Surface Area
  • Repeat for each section of your roof.
  • Add all of the Roof Surface Area sections together = Roofs Surface Space
  • Divide Roofs Surface Space/100 = Square feet also known as Squares
  • For example: a 10 Square Roof is actually 1000 sq. ft overall.
  • Use this number to buy the correct amount of asphalt roofing shingles and underlayment to cover your total roof area + 10%.

* Full Description below:

The simplest way to get the area of your roof will likely require you climbing up with your tape measure and getting help from a friend or family member. This may be a job best left to the pros if you have any safety concerns about being on a roof. Measure the length and the width of each section of your roof and multiply the two dimensions together. This gives you the roofs surface area of that individual section of roofing. Add all the roofs areas together to find out exactly how much roof surface space there is overall. Do this in feet and then divide the total that you come up with by 100 to get your figure from square feet to what is known as squares. A 10 square roof is actually 1,000 square feet overall.

Three Shingle Installation Mistakes That Cause Major Problems

Posted By: Paul CasseriSeptember 28, 2018

A roof that isnt installed precisely the way it was intended can be both unattractive and incapable of standing up to extreme weather conditions. On a laminate shingle roof, overlooking seemingly small details, such as shingle alignment and nailing, can lead to serious problems. Here are some of the most common details that, when improperly executed, can have negative consequences later in the installation or after completion of the roof:

  • No Starter Shingles/Improper Alignment of Shingles at Eave and Rake
  • CORRECT: This photo shows the starter shingle being installed correctly. Proper alignment is crucial when installing the starter shingles. Photos: Atlas Roofing

    The starter shingles two purposes are water protection and wind protection at the eave and rake. A starter shingle is used to seal with the field shingle at the first course along the eave and rake. This helps prevent wind and water from getting beneath the shingle in this critical location. The underlayment is a secondary water barrier if any moisture gets beneath the shingles.

    Starter shingles are installed so they overhang the edge of the eaves slightly to allow for water runoff. Then a course of shingles is installed on top of the starter shingles, forming a front line of defense for blow-offs and water damage.

    INCORRECT: When starter shingles are not installed, water channels can form where the shingles align across the first course. Photos: Atlas Roofing

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    Nailing Method And Correct Location Of Nails

    Improper shingle nailing

    When things go wrong with shingles it is often due to improper nailing. All manufacturers of asphalt shingles give detailed instructions on how to attach shingles, and theyre fairly similar. Unfortunately, some roofers dont pay enough attention or respect to these instructions. It is important to be aware of the two most common nailing defects with shingles. Unlike Brooklyn Brownstoner flat roofing in which anyone can just pour the materials, shingle require some TLC and artistic capabilities.

    Over-driven Nails

    Many roofers use pneumatic nail guns to nail down the shingles. If the pressure is set too high, the nails just get driven into the shingles too far. When the nails are overdriven, the heads of the nails tare through the mat of the shingle. This nulls the shingle manufacturers warranty and greatly increases the likelihood of the shingles coming loose and being blown off.

    Improperly Located Nails

    Its important to use a professional roofing contractor with the skills to do the job right from the outset. The best roofing companies have quality control practices in order to monitor their work. Because a roof is your main defense against the elements, a bad job can lead to expensive water damage inside the building. Thats why you cant afford to compromise on the quality of your roofing. When manufacturers supply the instructions you should have no issues.

    Carefully Flash The Valleys And Seams

    How to Install Starter Strip Roofing Shingles | Mastering the Roof by GAF

    Almost 75% of roof leaks occur in valleys where two roof planes meet, or at chimneys or other roof penetrations, so be sure to install roof flashing in these areas prior to the start of the installation. Flashed open valleys may be more durable and water-resistant than blind alleys, in which the shingles overlap from one plane to the other and cover the valley. For asphalt shingles, aluminum flashings are recommended. The metal should be at least 0.019 inches thick.

    If working on a roof where someone has already installed flashing, make sure it is in good condition and not leaking. When re-roofing, most pros choose to install new flashings rather than relying on the existing flashings.

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    How To Replace Roof Shingles Near The Gutter

    Roof shingles near the gutter are the ones that suffer the most abuse. Because they are on an edge, the chance for them to caught and torn by an errant gust of wind is greater than those mounted above. They are also the shingles that are most subjected to physical abuse from branches scraping along the gutter, items like balls or other toy hitting and cracking the ends, or even hands grabbing the ends of the shingles when climbing up onto the roof. To make sure the waterproofing integrity of the roof has not been compromised, damaged shingles near the gutter must be replaced.


    Place a ladder on firm, dry and level ground. The weather must be clear and dry before beginning this task. Do not exceed the ladder’s weight limit. Climb the ladder to gain access to the shingles near the gutter.


    Pry up the first overlapping shingle to expose the nails with the pry bar. Most shingles are nailed down with four nails but the first row of shingles are usually double-stacked and may have six or more nails holding them in place. In most instances, two separate shingles that form the overlap. Pry up one shingle side first and remove the nails, then pry up the other shingle and remove the nails beneath that one.


    Insert a nail puller beneath the head of the nails and pull them out. These are roofing nails so the heads will be wide and easy to access with a nail puller.





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    Are Roofing Nails Magnetic

    There are many questions on the internet about whether roofing nails are magnetic. Many people ask this question on forums and blogs because magnetic nails make roof cleanup much easier. After installing your new roof, the first thing your contractor does is clean it of any debris and granular that fall from the shingles. In cleaning time, magnetic roofing nails become critical. Using a magnetic sweeper is an easy way to facilitate cleanup when nails are magnetic.

    On the contrary, roofing projects employ a variety of nails. Steel roofing nails are the only ones that are magnetic. They are coated in a variety of colors to prevent rust. Steel nails work well with magnetic sweepers. However, stainless steel, aluminum, and copper are incompatible with magnetic sweepers. You can test a nails magnetic strength by picking it up with a magnet.

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    The Art Of Nailing Down Roofing Shingles Perfected

    One of the most common defects found with roofing shingles is improper nailing. Manufacturers give specific instructions on how to fasten shingles. The shingles may be one of the simplest roofing materials to install, but nevertheless, you have to follow the rules on how to be fastened.

    It is important to apply roofing nails of the right quantity and the correct position to secure a shingle into its place. Precise nailing affects the performance of roofing shingles and it is also required by the building regulations.


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