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If you’re renovating your siding and your roof, you probably want to streamline the project. Buying things like nails in bulk can help you save money. But can roofing nails be used for siding, or will you have to use different fasteners for each location? 

Roofing and Siding Nails are Generally Different

Roofing and siding have some similar functions. They protect the internal structure of the house from damage. But there are enough differences between their materials, installation and layout that different nails are recommended to secure them to the home.

Siding Nails

Siding nails are fastened horizontally, penetrating the exterior siding to secure it to the home. Most professionals use a siding nailer, which requires a specific type of nail.

Because siding is not replaced as frequently as roofing materials, the nails used for this job are meant to stay where they’re inserted. They have a ring shank, which holds them in place, as well as a small head, which makes them difficult to remove.

Roofing Nails

Although roofing nails will hold shingles securely to the underlayment, they’re designed to come out easily. That’s because roofs are vulnerable to more damage than siding is. Most homeowners have to replace shingles periodically without affecting the areas around them. The fact that roofing nails are easy to remove means that you can work on sections of the roof safely.

Roofing nails don’t always have a ring shank, which means that they can slide out without much force. They also have large heads, which come in handy when it’s time to dismantle a roof.

In low-wind areas, smooth shank roofing nails are ideal. But you might want to look for ring-shank nails if you’re working in a windy climate. These are still possible to remove when necessary. However, they’re more secure when they’re faced with the force of nature’s gusts.

The Tools Are Different

If you were hammering in the nails by hand, you could swap out roofing nails for siding nails, even though that’s not recommended. But the electric nailers that are designed for each job require you to use roofing or siding-specific nails. Although a roofing nailer looks like a siding nailer, it works slightly differently. You shouldn’t use a roofing nailer on siding, and vice versa.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Roofing Nails for Siding

You might be tempted to use roofing nails for siding because they’re less expensive. However, they don’t have the features that are necessary to keep your siding, and therefore your home, safe and secure.

Roofing Nails Are Too Short

Roofing nails are about 1 ¾ inches long, whereas siding nails are typically 2 ½ inches long. Roofing shingles are thinner than siding materials and don’t require such a long fastener. But if you try to use a too-short nail on siding, it won’t secure the material properly. You leave your home vulnerable to damage from the weather and pests. Plus, you’ll need to replace your siding more frequently if it comes off easily.

The Nails Are Installed Differently

Siding nails are not meant to be installed flush against the material. A siding nailer is designed to install the nail with a small gap between the material and the nail head. On the other hand, a roofing nailer forces the nail head flush against the shingles. 

In other words, roofing nails will be too tight when they’re installed on siding. The siding material won’t have room to expand and contract with temperature changes. This results in warping and cracking. When you’re installing siding nails, you should make sure that the material can move about ¼ inch for the best results.

If you install siding nails on a roof, they’ll be too loose. Shingles must be fastened tightly to the surface to prevent gaps through which water, wind and debris can enter.

Installation for Specific Types of Siding

The siding manufacturer will specify the recommended fasteners to use. Therefore, when in doubt, check with the brand that makes your home’s siding. If your siding or roof has a warranty, you may void that warranty by using the wrong fasteners.

Can You Use Staples?

Because you’ll see installers using staples to fasten the underlayment and moisture barrier, you might wonder if you can also use those for the shingles. Staples aren’t strong enough to use for the external layers of roofing or siding. 

What Are Roofing and Siding Nails Made Of?

Most experts recommend using corrosion-resistant nails for a siding project. Galvanized or stainless steel nails are the strongest, and they won’t rust like aluminum nails can. Rust-prone nails can leave unsightly stains on your home’s façade.

Roofing nails can be made of the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Copper

Although aluminum nails are usually the least expensive, they have the shortest lifespan. Because aluminum is likely to rust, it’s especially important to avoid aluminum nails in coastal or humid climates. 

Stainless steel nails are less likely to rust than aluminum. They’re also stronger. Another benefit of stainless steel nails is that they’re often cheaper than galvanized nails.

But if you want the longest lasting roofing nails, you should consider galvanized fasteners. These are made from a strong steel core, which is coated in zinc chemicals. The coating provides extra rust and weather resistance. Although these are the most expensive roofing nails, they’re usually the best option.

Copper nails are stronger than steel. Contractors use them to hold up heavy materials, such as slate shingles. Because copper nails last longer than galvanized fasteners, they’re often used with long-lasting roof materials, such as metal and stone.

When Can Roofing Nails Be Used for Siding?

As you research the subject of whether roofing nails can be used for siding, you’ll likely come across folks who say that they’ve used roofing nails to install vinyl siding with no issues. Galvanized roofing nails work well for vinyl siding because they’re strong, rust resistant and sharp. They drive through the siding material easily, making easy wok of the installation.

If you choose to do this, make sure that the nails are long enough. They should be at least 1 ¾ inches—longer if there are extra materials between the vinyl and the base. The head should be about ⅜ inch. It should hide under the overlap from the adjacent piece of siding without showing.

To avoid damaging the siding when installing roofing nails in siding, make sure that you follow the guidelines below:

  • Don’t drive the nails into the siding too tightly.
  • Make sure that the nails are inserted parallel to the ground to avoid warping and buckling.
  • Space the nails out evenly, every 12 to 16 inches, to prevent sagging.

Be aware that a roofing nail gun is heavier and larger than a siding nailer. Therefore, it’s still not ideal to use a roofing nailer to fasten your siding. You’ll get the best results by using the proper materials for the job. 

At Presidio Roofing, we aim for the best outcomes, and we don’t take shortcuts. Therefore, we use the right nails and equipment for each project. We want your roof to protect your household and give you peace of mind for as long as possible.