The 10 Best Roofing Nailers
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in April of 2015. If you're a professional roofer, you'll obviously need a professional tool. Even if you're not a pro, you don't want to take on a roofing project without the proper equipment. One of these nailers will provide you with the power and versatility you need to get the job done far more quickly — and using significantly less energy — than you would with an old-fashioned hammer. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 13, 2021:
Neither the Craftsman 18180 nor the Porter-Cable RN175B were available during this update, so we were happy to switch them out for tools from company’s with better reputations, believing that our list already had enough mid-grade options — like the 3Plus HCN45SP and our pick from Wen.
When considering options from DeWalt, we favored the DeWalt DW45RN over the company’s battery-powered DCN45RND1, even though we know that dragging an air compressor to every job site is a drag, because we just didn’t think it could keep up with the pros.
It can purportedly fire 500 nails per charge with a two-amp-hour battery (yes, going bigger could be an option... if you're also willing to go heavier), but anybody who has heard a crew really going to town when they’re trying to get a roof done on a Friday afternoon knows: 500 isn’t a lot. So, while we’re still a big fan of DeWalt's power tools, we chose to rank their pneumatic gun instead, though the 20-volt option could still be a great asset for small jobs and service calls.
We also added the Makita AN454 to our list, which struck as a good all-around pick, offering a selectable trigger, a light unit weight of 5.2 pounds and a convenient belt hook to hang the gun off your tool belt when you aren’t nailing.
January 22, 2020:
During this round of updates, we replaced the Grip-Rite GRTCR175 with the 3PLUS HCN45SP. This new entry is half the price of the Grip-Rite GRTCR175, without the quality issues.
When you're up on a roof for hours, you don't have workbenches or even a floor to set your tool on, so you'll be holding it for the majority of the time you're up there. This means you want your nailer to be as light as possible, especially considering the added weight of the large coil magazines that roofing jobs require. Having a large number of nails in your magazine may be convenient, but it also adds to the overall weight of the tool. We kept that in mind while updating this list, and made sure none of the options were heavier than necessary.
Keep in mind that these options are specifically suited for use while roofing or siding. If you're looking for something for more general use, take a look at a framing nailer, or for projects that need a little more precision, a brad nailer could be more up your alley.
DeWalt DCN45RND1 Among roofing contractors, the consensus is pretty well consistent: pneumatic nailers are the way to go. But, if you're looking to tool up for a single job and you don't own an air compressor, this battery-powered model might be worth considering, and you should definitely give it some thought if you're already invested in the company's line of 20-volt cordless tools. It's also a practical piece of equipment for professionals to keep on hand for service calls. dewalt.com
AJC Tools Roofing Hatchets They're no replacement for a reliable nailer, but you're unlikely to regret having one of this company's hatchets in your tool belt while you're taking a roof on. They've got half a dozen models to choose from, and replacement handles and wedges are also available, in case either ever gives out on you down the road. ajctools.com
The Benefits Of A Roofing Nailer
Using a roofing nailer ensures every nail comes out with the same force.
Though roofing nailers are available for purchase by anyone, they are predominantly a tool of the construction trade. For large jobs, roofing nailers are a necessity. Roofing is almost always a job for a nailer, as roofing projects can require thousands of nails.
Most importantly, roofing nailers will always get the job done faster. There are plenty of experienced contractors who can drive many nails a minute, but no one can compare to the speed of a roofing nailer. In most cases, roofing nailers can drive three or four nails in the time it takes to drive one by hand.
Roofing nailers are also much safer than driving nails by hand. When using a hammer and loose nails, workers are required to hold the nails in place while driving them. Even the most experienced contractors make mistakes; leading to injuries, missed work time, and worker's compensation claims. While injuries are also possible while using roofing nailers, most have safety mechanisms which minimize the risk.
Though roofing nailers are heavier than a hammer, they save space by containing nails within the unit itself. There is no need to lug a bucket of loose nails around the job site. This makes for a safer work environment, as workers stepping on loose nails are a common cause of puncture wounds which potentially lead to tetanus if left untreated.
When nailing by hand, it can take upwards of three swings to drive a nail. With a roofing nailer, it takes one hit. Whats more important than this power however is consistency. Using a roofing nailer ensures every nail comes out with the same force. A roofing nailer can deliver a uniform amount of pressure on the entire project.
Roofing Materials Throughout History
As long as humans have existed, they've taken shelter from the elements in housing of various types. A basic shelter will have two key elements: walls and a roof. Even the most basic shelters, such as caves or lean-to shelters, have effective roofing. Cavemen were said to have covered their dwellings with earth and plants, though this method let in many pests.
Just 300 years later, the first wood shingles were produced.
The first roofing tile was found in China, and dated to 3000 BCE. The ancient Roman and Greek cultures used similar earth roof tiles at around the same time. These early methods of roofing were brought to England as early as 100 BCE. This means that roof tiles actually predate thatched roofs, which were developed in 735 CE.
Just 300 years later, the first wood shingles were produced. This may have been an oversight, as rampant fires spread through London in the 12th century; causing King John to immediately order citizens to replace these roofing options with clay tiles once again.
Industrial tile production began in the 19th century; starting with clay tiles and then moving to concrete tiles in the early 20th century. Asphalt also became readily available in the 1900s; and became popular due to the ability to produce large amounts of tiles very quickly.
Most of the major changes in roofing have occurred since the industrial revolution. Modern roofing materials include polymers, glass, fiberglass, and photo-voltaic tiles which turn sunlight into energy.
How The Industrial Revolution Changed Construction
In just a few short decades beginning in the late 19th century, the United States was transformed from an agrarian society full of artisans and craftsmen to a largely industrial economy powered by workers. Before the Industrial Revolution, small towns and homesteads were very self-sufficient, each family subsisting off of their craft and what they could trade to their neighbors. These farms and towns were connected by horse-drawn carriages, and received very little by train.
Tools such as these sped up production of houses to meet the growing demand of the day.
This changed rapidly at the turn of the century, as manufacturing became a catalyst for rapid expansion. Goods which did not exist ten years prior were quickly becoming household items. The streamlined manufacturing and shipment methods led to even the smallest towns eventually requiring these goods to operate. By the 1920s, over half of American farms owned a car. This quick change was brought on by large manufacturers shifting their focus to profits and productivity. This required a large workforce to accomplish.
As this workforce was housed in large cities, the construction industry began booming. With the addition of cranes, tractors, and power tools such as hand drills, buildings could be made taller and faster than ever before. This rapid expansion would eventually overpopulate cities and spark the creation of modern suburbs; causing an explosion in the construction industry.
The Post-World War II economy in the United States brought even more economic expansion, and the demand for construction workers was higher than ever. With the invention of the nail gun in the 1950s, paneling and floorboards could be installed quickly and accurately by one man. Tools such as these sped up production of houses to meet the growing demand of the day. To this day, power tools continue making work more efficient for all, requiring less workers to get the same job done.