Should Roofing Nails Go Through The Sheathing?

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Is it time to get a new roof? It is probably not one of your favorite things to do. Even if you are not the one actually doing the work. You still have to be there for all the noise and mess. But what if the roofing nails are sticking through the sheathing? Is that normal?

Yes, your roofing nails should go through the sheathing. It’s important to use roofing nails that are long enough to penetrate the sheathing. With the shingles and 1/2-inch sheathing, the nails should protrude about 1/4 inch through. It is best to use 1 1/4-inch nails for the job.

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Minimum Lengths

In fact, in most states, the minimum length of the nail for roofing is 1 ¼ inches. However, in some southern states, they can use 3/8-inch roof sheathing so one-inch nails are fine. That is because they do not have to worry about heavy snow loads. Also, if you have roof boards that are one inch thick, your nails do not have to go through the sheathing.

Why Protrusion is Important

If you use one-inch nails on ½-inch sheathing, they will likely work their way back out. Even if the tips of the nails stick through, that is not enough. If they are not penetrating at least ¼-inch, the contraction and expansion of the sheathing over time can push the nails back up through the roof.

When nails back up out of the roof, it makes the shingle tabs push up. This causes the shingles to become loose and eventually you are going to start losing shingles when the wind blows. And once that starts happening, your roof will start to leak.

Other Roofing Mistakes

Another common problem with roofing nails is when the pressure is set too high on the pneumatic nail gun. If the pressure is too high, it pushes the nail too far into the shingles. Often, the nail head will go right through the shingle and will cause them to come loose or be blown off.

Hand Nailing Vs. Nail Guns

Almost all roofers use nail guns to make things go faster. Using a nail gun is also beneficial because the pressure on each nail is exactly the same. As long as the roofer tests the pressure on the gun before using it, there should be no problem.

However, many roofers feel that hand nailing is better because it gives them more control. They can feel if the nail is deep enough and placed in the right spot if hand nailing. If the nail misses the wooden plank sheathing, those using a hammer can feel it. Faster is not always better.

Not Putting the Nails in the Right Spot

Another nailing mistake when roofing is placing the nails in the wrong spots. Having the nails too high up on the shingle is a problem. They should be one inch from the cutout and one inch from each edge. If the nail catches the top edge of the shingle below it, that is the correct location. That protects them from wind and blow off.

Some Tips to Remember

Just as important as the length of the nail and their placement, you also have to be sure to use the right number of nails per shingle. Make sure they are the right grade and size as well. Never use staples. And always fasten the shingles from one side to the other so they stay flat.

Related Questions

How Do I Know if I Need a New Roof?

You should not wait until your roof starts leaking to get a new roof. Repair and replace costs more than just replacement. It is better to do it when you know it is time, but how do you know when that is? There are certain things that can tell you its time to get a new roof.

  • You see stains from mold or algae
  • The shingles look worn
  • There are bald spots
  • Some shingles are curled up or peeling
  • The shingles are cracked
  • You have a leak
  • Your roof was damaged
Can I Put Another Layer of Shingles on Top of the Existing Shingles?

You can have up to two layers of shingles on your roof. There are many reasons why this can be a great idea. But there are also reasons why it is not such a great idea.

The Cost is Much Lower: First of all, it is much less expensive. Roofers charge to remove the old shingles and to get rid of them for you. Labor costs are cheaper because they do not have to work as long.

Less Time and Aggravation: Because there is less to do, that means it will not take as long. That cuts down on the aggravation of having that noise going on all day.

It Does the Same Job: If your roofers do the job properly, installing the new over the old is just as good. They will look just as nice and last just as long as if you were to redo the whole thing.

The Warranty is Just the Same: The materials are still covered for the same length of time that they normally would. It does not matter whether you have it put on over the old shingles or not. As long as it is done by a professional, the warranty is still the same.

You Get Double Protection: Even if some of your old roof was… old, that additional layer of shingles is like double protection. If one or two of your shingles come loose in a storm, the layer underneath will protect you.

Are Metal Roofs Better Than Shingles?

Whether a metal roof is better than shingles depends on your budget and needs. A metal roof is lighter and more energy-efficient, but it costs more. The traditional asphalt shingle roof has many more varieties, but it is not as durable. Here are some of the other pros and cons

The Pros of Metal Roofs

  • They have a longer warranty because they last longer
  • Your home value will be higher
  • The metal is 100% recyclable
  • It is fire resistant
  • The metal is much more durable
  • You get insurance discounts and tax credits
  • There is much less maintenance
  • The roof is lighter
  • It can be installed over the existing roof

The Cons of Metal Roofs

  • They cost about three times as much
  • It is harder to repair
  • Metal is noisier in the rain
  • Takes longer and is more difficult to install

The Pros of Asphalt Shingles

  • It is less expensive
  • Some are fire-resistant
  • It is partially recyclable
  • Repair is typically cheaper
  • Holds up better to snow
  • Faster and easier to install
  • Comes in many colors

The Cons of Asphalt Shingles

  • It absorbs the heat from the sun
  • The shingles are prone to mold, algae, and mildew
  • Does not stand up as well in wind and hail
  • The material is heavier
  • The old roof should be removed first in most cases

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Although many people still prefer the traditional asphalt shingles, metal roofs are growing in popularity. Shingles are easier to install and have more of a variety. But metal roofs last about 50 to 70 years, which is a big difference from shingles, which only last about 20 years.

That means even though the metal roof will cost you more at first, it will make up for the cost in the end. You would have to replace the shingle roof about three times in the length of time that a metal roof lasts. And that does not count any repairs or replacement from storms over the years.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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