How Do I Choose the Best Roofing Nail Gun?

Marty Paule
Marty Paule
Roofers use nail guns to help them work faster and more efficiently.
Roofers use nail guns to help them work faster and more efficiently.

Apart from the price, when choosing the best roofing nail gun, consider the types of roofing projects you'll be using it for. Most specialized nail guns are designed to drive short roofing nails with large heads, and operate on either compressed air or have a small, self-contained gas engine. If you already own an air compressor, that may help to narrow down your choices to pneumatic models. Reading online reviews written by roofers and consumers about the various brands and models can also help to pinpoint the right model for you. Many manufacturers and dealers post their roofing nail gun manuals online, giving you the opportunity to delve into and compare the features.

Roofing jobs can entail using nails of varied lengths, depending on whether you're covering a new roof or putting down roofing over an existing roof. The framing and type of roofing materials used also determine what type of fastener is needed. For the greatest versatility, look for a roofing nail gun that will accept the range of nail lengths and types you are most likely to use. Some manufacturers include special attachments for nailing siding, flashing, and other trim, while other makers sell these attachments as extra-cost options.

If you already own an air compressor and its output will drive models suitable for your jobs, then that could be a good argument for purchasing a pneumatic, or compressed-air driven, nail gun. Although some air-powered models are less costly than gas-powered nail guns, the cost of a compressor should be factored in. Pneumatic nail guns can also be somewhat more difficult to use due to the need for an air hose.

Reading online user reviews can be a good way to get first-hand opinions about the pros and cons of each roofing nail gun model. Things to consider include whether or not it is comfortable to hold, how easy is it to use in close quarters, and if the accessories for trim work are effective and included. You may also consider whether or not the nail-feed mechanism operates smoothly and if the nails are consistently delivered straight.

In researching the various roofing nail gun models online, visiting the manufacturers' websites is a good way to gather information. Aside from the critical factors of weight and overall dimensions, be sure to compare the nail magazine capacity, the dimensions of the nails and fasteners it accepts, and, in the case of air-powered models, the required operating pressure. Tool-free nail-depth adjustment, high-speed nail delivery, and the inclusion of safety glasses are three other feature to look for.

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Discussion Comments


Nail guns may make roofing faster, but they don't make the quality of the job any better. I have seen some really sorry roofing jobs done with nail guns where the roofers just sped through the job. And then when a good wind comes along you have shingles flying all over the place. You end up with more shingles in your yard than on your roof.

With a hammer and a nail you know when the nail is going through wood because you can feel the resistance when you pound the nail. With a nail gun you don't know if you are putting nails through wood or just pushing them into cracks and other openings.


I have never used a nail gun of any type, but I have seen them on TV and they seem to make big jobs much easier physically and quicker. Keep in mind that my skill level with a hammer is less than average, or average at best. I'm sure a professional is much faster with a hammer than I am.

Still, I can't see any disadvantages to using a gas nail gun instead of a hammer, except maybe that the guns have the potential to be more dangerous, but you need to be careful with all tools.


The article makes a good point about the problem with a roofing nail gun powered by air. When you are on a roof there is no such thing as a little fall. You don't want anything more than absolutely necessary on the roof with you when you're putting on shingles or making other repairs. So an air hose is something you would rather not have to concern yourself with.

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    • Roofers use nail guns to help them work faster and more efficiently.
      By: Glen Jones
      Roofers use nail guns to help them work faster and more efficiently.