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In the roofing industry, there has long been debate over using a hammer to hand nail shingles vs. using a nail gun. Both sides have pros and cons, and this brief blog will highlight a few.

Pros/Cons of Hand Nailing:

Hand Nailing means the shingle is being nailed to the roof the old way, with a hand holding a nail while the other hand uses a hammer. Proponents of hand nailing will tell you it’s a more consistent method and leads to better craftsmanship, as none of the nails are over or under-driven into the shingle. The caveat is that the installer must be experienced in using this method to achieve consistency and must work with reasonable speed to complete the job efficiently. Few roofers these days have mastered this skill.
There are only a couple of downsides to hand nailing. First, hand nailing is usually slower than installing with a nail gun. How much slower will depend on the skill of the installer. The second downside is that more nails are dropped onto the roof and eventually end up in the gutter or on the ground. This is because individual nails are kept in a pocket on a tool belt. The installer reaches into this pocket to pull out 5-6 nails at a time, often dropping a few. This can lead to hundreds of additional nails on the ground during the project, making it more likely that nails will be left behind after cleanup.

Pros/Cons of Nail Guns:

A nail gun mechanically feeds nails from a nail coil and drives them into the shingle by pulling a trigger. The gun is powered by an air compressor set to a certain psi for driving nails into a given shingle type. Nail guns are usually much faster than hand nailing. It takes little time to teach a roofer to use a nail gun, and consistency is achieved by setting the gun’s psi so nails are driven in with the same force every time.
Oddly enough, the main argument against nail guns is inconsistency in workmanship from fluctuating psi passing through the gun. This can happen if a line from the compressor to the gun gets crimped or has a hole in it. It can also happen if crew members have guns set at different psi settings. I have seen both things happen, but very rarely. The real issues with nail guns are extra equipment, safety, and noise. Air compressors, guns, and airlines must use nail guns on a roofing project. That’s a lot of expensive equipment, and equipment can break. Some roofers don’t want to incur that cost. Air compressors and nail guns are louder than hand nailing as well. Lastly, a roofer trip over an airline on a roof. He didn’t fall or slide off the roof, but the added safety hazard (although small) was present.
In summary, nail guns are an industry standard for many years. My company successfully uses them on every project and will continue to. I believe this difference in installation method favors nail guns over hand nailing, and I would be skeptical of a company using hand nailing as a sales pitch for better installation. This short blog is not meant to be all-inclusive but to educate consumers on a few more debated issues.

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HUF Construction is a Waxahachie, TX-based construction company that serves Ellis County, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, central Texas, and has a second location in the Permian Basin. We have handled thousands of insurance claims across multiple states and understand the claims process inside and out. While the majority of our business is roofing and handling insurance claims, we have recently expanded into swimming pool construction in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. If you have an insurance claim or a roofing need then contact us today.