If you're installing roof shingles, give careful consideration to the equipment you select. Here are some excellent choices based on 22 years of roofing experience …
Equipment for Installing Roof Shingles –Your Nailgun
There are thirty-some roofing nails on the market, but here are seven reasons why many professionals like myself choose the Hitachi NV45AB2.
- It's quick and easy to load fasteners. One of the main improvements on this nail gun over previous models is the side-loading feature. You no longer have to put up with the awkward bottom-loading mechanism to enjoy the performance of a Hitachi.
It is fast and reliable. Firing three nails per second, the piston has pneumatic feed and return. That allows it to drive through tar build-ups on the feed mechanism, unlike some of the competition which sells on a spring return. That gives you a faster nailing cycle and less jamming.
The Hitachi has a long-thinking design. From the carbide tips on the nose of the tool, to the tough metal body and steel body shields, this gun has "body armor" to minimizeize wear from hard use and shingle abrasion. It also has rubber pads on the body shields to minimize slippage on steep roofs.
It has service available. As good as it is, nothing lasts forever. But Hitachi has a reliable service network to get you back up and running fast.
It's infinitely adjustable. Unlike some other nail guns, which have a stepped exposure gauge, the Hitachi gauge can be set to any exposure. You can use it for installing roof shingles that perfectly match the exposure of shingles driven with other nail guns, regardless of the brand.
It's easy on YOU. At just 5.5 pounds the Hitachi is one of the lightest roofing nail guns on the market. This model also has a durable rubber grip handle. These two features make a tough job a little easier.
It's easy on your wallet. There was a time when the Hitachi was one of the most expensive roofing nail guns. Over the years, increased competition has driven the price down, while design improvements have improved the durability of the gun. The result is a long-lasting tool which is a great value.
Equipment for Installing Roof Shingles – Your Compressor
I've used a lot of different compressors over the years, but my favorite is a Porter-Cable Model C2002-WK. Here's why …
First off, it's electric so you do not have to listen to a loud gas engine running all day. The homeowners and neighbors will appreciate that as well. And unlike gas compressors, this type does not run constantly. It turns on while you are installing roof shingles, then shuts off until the pressure switch turns it back on again.
You also do not have to screw around with gas motors that will not start because of a bad spark plug, flooded carb or whatever. And you do not have to buy gas or worry about running out.
Electric compressors are also a lot lighter than the gas-powered ones. This one weighs just 34 pounds, which is light enough for even an old guy like me to drag up on the roof. Try that with a gas compressor.
It is also oil-less which is the only kind to have if you ever have to set it on a sloped roof. And you never have an oily mess on your shingles or the homeowners' driveway.
This Porter-Cable Model puts out all the pressure you need for a roofing nailer and has a six gallon air tank, so it is not running constantly.
Most of all, I'm happy with the price. It's not only the best compressor I've ever had, it's the cheapest.
Just be aware of its limits. It puts out 3.5 cubic feet of air per minute, which is fine for one roofing nailer, but not really enough for two. Also, like all "pancake type" compressors, it's a little top heavy. Make sure it is secure in your truck, or it will go tumbling when you hit the brakes.
Equipment for Installing Roof Shingles – Your Cords and Hoses
Ideally, you want your compressor plugged directly into an electrical outlet. Extension cords reduce the power available to the motor, which can result in premature failure. That setup works just fine for many jobs, especially if you have an outlet on both sides of the house you can use.
But sometimes you need an extension cord. I've found that 100 feet of cord will position the compressor for installing roof shingles just about anywhere I want it. That's also long enough to power my saws and drills on the roof. But get two heavy duty 50-footers so you keep the distance to the outlet as short as possible and minimize the power drop.
As far as your air hose, it's best to have a one-piece hundred footer, so there are no connections to hang up on stuff as you drag the hose across the roof. It's not just the irritation factor either. I've worn my fingers twice over the years when my hose got hung up on something, redirecting the nailgun at my hand.
1/4 "hose works fine for one nailgun and is easier to handle than a 3/8".
Be sure to have a spare hose and / or a repair kit to fix hoses and fittings that suddenly start hiss air. The compressor above comes with a 25-foot hose, which is generally too short for roofing, but it could be helpful as a backup to get you through the day.
With a hundred feet of extension cord and a hundred feet of air hose, you can shingle just about anything!
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