FEATURED ARTICLE: Hand Nailing Vs. Pneumatic Nail Guns

As homeowners begin the process of repairing or replacing the roof of their home, there are many factors that must be considered. From choosing the right roofing contractor, to picking the perfect color for the new shingles, the decisions can be overwhelming. Here at Cenvar Roofing, we believe that the best way to simplify the decision-making process and make it painless for homeowners, is to provide an explanation of the difference between some of the roofing options available. One such decision is whether homeowners should choose a roofing contractor who uses pneumatic nail guns, or one who uses the hand nailing technique.

a contractor is using a nail gun to fasten shingles to a roof

Pneumatic Nail Guns vs. Hand Nailing? 

In roofing projects, pneumatic nail guns are the most commonly used tool to drive nails into the shingles. These nail guns are powered by compressed air, and give roofers a clean, precise, and predictable way to install shingles. Pneumatic nail guns have almost completely replaced hammers as the tool of choice for top roofing companies because of the efficiency they bring to projects.

While some roofers still use the traditional hand-nailing technique, in most cases it does not deliver the same precise results as the nail gun, and risks introducing inconsistencies and human error into the project.  When using the hand nailing technique, roofers are continuously banging on the roof deck, which can lead to significant interior sheetrock and plaster damage. This risk is much less when a nail gun is used. 

Crew replacing a roof using pneumatic nail guns

5  Reasons Pneumatic Nails Are The Better Choice For Your Roof 

#1: Precision 

The primary reason pneumatic nail guns are the leading choice is the precision they allow roofing contractors to achieve. When installing new shingles, contractors have a very small margin of error in the nailing process in order to secure the shingle properly and protect against water damage. Nail guns allow roofers to achieve the ideal penetration depth in the correct places very quickly. A nail that is placed too deeply can cut into shingles and result in corrosion and future water damage, whereas a nail placed too shallowly won’t anchor the shingle well, and can result in failed shingles. This also increases the likelihood of shingles loosening or tearing off in a storm with high winds. 

In an official statement, Owens Corning, our primary shingle manufacturer, spoke to the need for precision during the installation process. 

“When nailing shingles, proper penetration into the roof deck is essential to ensure the nail and shingle remain secure. For all Owens Corning® shingles, roofing nails should penetrate into the wood deck by a minimum of ¾-inch or completely through the roof deck by a minimum of 1/8-inch.”

 – Owens Corning Official Statement 

Nail guns have depth adjustment technology on the heads, which allows roofers to adjust the depth of the nail drive as is necessary so that they can achieve the precise nail depth needed for each job. 

#2: Uniformity

The second reason Cenvar Roofing chooses pneumatic nail guns is that they help our roofers achieve uniformity on each roof we install. It can take our crews an entire day to replace a roof, and the majority of that time is spent installing the new shingles. When our crews use the pneumatic air guns, each nail is driven exactly as the previous ones, and the end result is free of inconsistencies caused by human error. 

This uniformity is a seemingly small detail that actually contributes heavily to the overall look of your new roof from the ground. The goal is for your roof to be as beautiful as possible, with no noticeable deviations or inconsistencies. The nail gun helps us achieve this result with every roof that we install. 

#3: No Extra Labor Costs 

Using a pneumatic nail gun allows our crews to work more efficiently, and reduces the amount of time and energy they need to spend on your roof. This in turn reduces the amount of time your roof replacement takes, and reduces the overall labor costs of the project. 

#4: Accurate Shingle Placement

In addition to bringing precision, uniformity, and efficiency to a project, nail guns also help roofing contractors achieve accurate placement on the roof. According to our Roanoke General Manager Kyle Kayton, the proper shingle installation technique when using a nail gun is to hold the gun with one hand, and hold the shingles with the other hand. This allows the roofer to make sure the shingle stays in place until it is properly secured. However, when using the hand nailing technique, the roofer has to hold the hammer in one hand, and the nail in the other, leaving no way to hold the shingle in place. This can be problematic, particularly on roofs with steep slopes, because gravity makes it difficult for the shingle to stay in place long enough for the nail to secure it. 

#5: Manufacturer Instructions

Cenvar Roofing primarily installs Duration shingles manufactured by Owens Corning, a company that produces high quality, innovative roofing materials that are among the best available. As Rob Yost, the Owens Corning Area Sales Manager explained, Duration shingles are specifically produced with sure nail technology. This design includes a wide, tough, reinforcing fabric on the surface of the shingle where the nails are driven. This reinforcement makes it almost impossible to overdrive a nail, and ensures that the nail gun is absolutely safe to use. 

Owens Corning installation standards support the use of a nail gun, and their promotional and instructional materials demonstrate the use of the nail gun, as can be seen in this video:

Nail Guns Are Not A Shortcut! 

Some companies state that nail guns are simply a shortcut taken by roofing contractors who want to cut corners to complete their jobs too quickly, but in reality, the quality of the roofing work has more to do with the roofer who does it, than the method they choose to utilize. 

Newly replaced roof on a house in Roanoke

Cenvar Roofing contractors are committed to leaving each customer with an outstanding roof that meets the high standard of excellence that our company holds. We are proud of all our work, and prioritize customer satisfaction no matter what. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that you will be completely satisfied with the end result of our work before you pay a single dime.  

We are so confident in the quality and durability of our methods that we offer a 50 year workmanship warranty on each roof we install. This warranty guarantees that in the unlikely event that something does go wrong with the roof, we will fix it at no cost to you, the homeowner. 

If you have questions and would like to schedule a further conversation with a member of our sales team, we would be happy to discuss your options with you. Please contact our office at (540) 909-3003 or visit our website to schedule an appointment. 

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