If you’re looking for “roofing shingles – how to” information, you’ve come to the right place. One of the most important things to learn is exactly where to put the roofing nails. A typical roof requires thousands of fasteners, and any one of them can leak if not installed properly. Here are seven tips to help you do it right.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #1 Don’t Install the Nails too High!
There is a horizontal “nail line” on the shingles, which indicates where your nails should go. The line may actually be painted on or it may be the area to nail as indicated in the instructions. It’s important to focus on getting your nails right on that line. When you nail too high, you can rip the shingle, miss the course underneath entirely and prevent the shingles from laying flat. This can all result in making them much more vulnerable in high winds.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #2 Don’t Install Them too Low Either!
On the other hand, you don’t want the nails too low. The nail line on some shingles is so low, that nails which are only ½” below the line will be exposed. Those are called “shiners”. They can rust out and leak over the years. Some manufacturers have created an alternate nailing zone that is higher on the shingle to avoid these problems. But it comes at the expense of 10 MPH in wind resistance, which is not acceptable as far as I’m concerned. It’s better to just put the nails where they belong.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #3 Get the Pattern Right!
Getting the nails on the line is important, but there is also a horizontal nail pattern that you need to follow. The pattern varies, depending on whether you are installing four or six nails per shingle. You have a little more leeway with this horizontal location than the vertical one, but there is an important principle to keep in mind: You don’t want any nails within three inches of the seam in the course above. If you put the nails where it says on the shingle wrapper, you won’t have any problem doing that. But if you get a little sloppy, you could end up with nails right at the seam between two shingles in the course above. That is a classic place for a leak, and it can be tough one to find because the nail is hidden from sight.
You need to be especially careful of this at the valleys when you adjust the shingle length to allow a whole one to span the valley. It’s real easy to get those nails in the wrong place. I like to layout the course above before I nail, so I know exactly where the nails and seams will fall.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #4 Seat Those Nails Flush!
Once, you have the location figured out; adjust your nailgun and/or compressor so the nails are driven flush with the surface of the shingles. They shouldn’t be ripping all the way through and they shouldn’t be sticking up. You may find that as the shingles warm up throughout the day, they will soften and you need to lower the pressure. You may also find that roofovers and caps require more pressure. Nails that are sticking up too high should be seated immediately with your hammer. Otherwise, they become “nail pops” that eventually poke through the shingles and leak.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #5 Don’t Nail Into the Flashings!
As you shingle around various vents, skylights, chimneys and other protrusions, you will notice that each of the flashings has a flange that gets nailed to the roof. The flange is typically three to five inches wide and gets nailed about every six inches around the very edge of the perimeter. When you install shingles around these penetrations, keep your nails at least six inches away from them. That will help to prevent water from leaking at the nail holes. The shingles should all be set in flashing cement around the vent, so you don’t have to worry about not having enough fasteners there.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #6 Keep Your Nails Out of the Valleys!
Of all the places to watch your nail placement, valleys are the most critical. The valley acts like a funnel directing massive amounts of water off the roof. Some of it actually ends up under the roofing, and if it finds a nail, you are sure to have a leak sooner or later. The nailing pattern you use for the rest of the roof is suspended in the valley area. Instead a good rule to follow is to install no shingle nails within 12″ inches of the center of the valley. Again, these shingles will be set in flashing cement, so you don’t need the nails to secure them.
Roofing Shingles – How to Tip #7 Use Screws Instead of Nails!
The last tip I have about roofing nails is to avoid using them when you install aluminum ridge vents. First off, they eventually rust away, causing leaks. Ridge vents also catch a lot of wind and can work loose when installed with regular nails. That allows blowing rain under the vents. For years, I have used spiral shank aluminum nails for attaching the vents. Those worked better, but I found that in extremely high winds, even they can work loose. The best thing to use is corrosion resistant wood screws, with shielded grommeted washers. They stay put, the grommet seals the hole and the shield protects the grommets from the sun.