North Carolina’s Coastal area is a beautiful region that’s growing year over year. We have all seen the massive amount of new construction that is going up all across the city and all the renovations going on bringing old properties into the new style curve.

Whether you’re building a new house, renovating an older property, or you see the need for a new roof on the horizon, one of the choices you’ll have to make is how you want the shingles on your roof to be installed. After doing some research you will find the age-old battle of hand nailing vs. air nailing (pneumatic nailing).

In this article, you’ll learn from a roofing contractor with decades of experience why hand nailing should be the preferred choice. We give you the information you need about why nail placement and applying the right pressure is crucial to the life of your roof. 

While our company has been using the hand nailing method for our entire 20+ years in business, I believe the information below is the standard belief about the two. 

The Relevance of Nail Placement 

Nail placement is limited to a very small area on the shingle. Placing a nail outside of this area can cause many problems from voiding the manufacturer’s warranty to premature roof failure. A person using an air gun can certainly place the nail correctly, but finding a company with a history of high-quality installation with air guns can be hard. 

While anyone can pull the trigger of an air gun, hand nailing is a skill that takes time and a lot of practice to learn. While air gun nailing might seem faster, a well-trained hand nailer can do it almost as fast. The key difference between the two is accuracy.

Hand driving nails into shingles allows for the roofer to place the nail on the proper nail line and then drive the nail in. Ensuring that the nails are properly placed each and every time because the head of the hammer stops flush on top of the shingles. 

Applying the Right Pressure is Essential

If you do not apply the correct amount of pressure to a nail properly (under-driven), it will leave the nails too high which will result in a hump in the shingle above it, which is putting your roof at risk of damage. For example, wind can then blow up and under the shingles causing it to lift and blow off, or overtime, it can rub through the top shingle causing a nail “pop” (the nail “pops” through) which in turn will cause a leak, damaging your roof and resulting in you having to pay more money to fix. Luckily this is avoidable if the right amount of pressure is used in each nail. 50 North Roofing uses the hand-nailing method to ensure each nail is properly applied to the roof, eliminating any potential raised nail. 

Contrarily, if too much pressure is applied then nails are considered “over-driven” or “blown through”.  They will not hold the shingle because the nails have been blown too deep which will cause the shingles to potentially slide down the roof or blow off because there is nothing holding the shingle down.

When hand nailing, the head of a hammer is much larger and when it hits the nail, it lands flat on the roof’s surface. It’s very abnormal to have nails that have been over-driven when hand nailing simply because they don’t have the pressure from the compressor like the air guns do. 

When installing shingles over the roof’s decking, a lot of the nails get driven between the wood, which in turn needs to be removed and replaced to an improved location. Hand nailers can feel when this happens and can easily make corrections as they go. Air nailers can’t feel this so they become overlooked and eventually, nails will rise and leaks will happen.

The Issue With Air Nailing Pressure

Air pressure is regulated by an air compressor which remains on the ground. The pressure for the air guns must be corrected often in order to maintain the proper level of pressure suited to the conditions the roofer is working under, such as weather conditions, wood variations, shingle type, etc. And each of these conditions requires different amounts of pressure. 

This means that the roofer must get off the roof to adjust the pressure on the compressor for the different conditions. We have found that most roofers set the compressor way too high to save themselves from having to get up and down off of the roof. The problem with this is that the nails get blown through the shingles bringing problems to a new roof before it’s even finished.  

An air gun crew will nail a shingle in a split second with little to no care of their nail placements, sacrificing quality for speed. More than ~60% of all roof repairs are due to shingles being improperly air nailed on. Again, here at 50 North Roofing, we use the hand-nailing method, which is far better and safer than using a nail-gun. 

You may be asking yourself: Is it possible to install a roof correctly using an air gun? Of course. However, it is harder to keep the correct pressure all day and to find someone that cares enough to make sure the job is done correctly. Using an air gun, the potential for error is much greater. 

Read a Customer Story

We recently had a client who had their shingle roof replaced just over two years ago by a local, very reputable roofing company here in North Carolina. They were unaware of it at the time, but it had been improperly installed using air guns.

When the gusts of winds that are typical near coastal Carolina hit their roof, whole sections of the roof system started sliding off. The unfortunate part about this story is the repair costs had to come out of their own pockets to replace the roof. This can be avoided if you find a company that truly cares about their customers and takes the time to get the job done correctly. It’s always a great idea to look online for any customer reviews before choosing a roofing company.

Why You Should Ask What Method The Roofing Contractor Uses is Important

Now that you have a better understanding of the air gun nailing and hand nailing debate, you are ready to start the process of hiring a roofing contractor. But did you know which method they use is a question every homeowner should ask?

You are not alone. Asking what nailing method they use is just one of these main questions. That’s why you need to know the rest of the top questions to ask a roofing contractor.

Luckily, we already thought about this.

The team at 50 North Roofing has provided high-quality roofing services in Eastern North Carolina for decades. Our high-quality workmanship and customer service speaks for itself. You can review our Google Reviews and read what our customers say about us. If you are local to the Coastal North Carolina area (or surrounding areas), don’t hesitate to contact us for all of your roofing needs.