One of the most common types of nails used in construction and carpentry, collated nails is a general term for nails that are connected together in strips, so they can be fired out of a nail gun. So, while the definition of a collated nail may include many different types, they usually must be suitable for a nail gun to be used.
What are collated nails?
The kind nails used in nail guns are called collated nails. These are nails that are arranged in a strip or coil and connected with the help of glue, plastic, paper or wire.
Now that you know what kind of nails does a nail gun use, let’s see the various types of collated nails.
The differences between the types are not so much the nail itself, although that may affect what type of collation it can be used. But rather in the material used for the collation itself. Different applications and different types of nailers require different types of collation. So understanding what works and what does not work will depend in large part on your needs.
Different Types of Nail Collation
What follows is the different types of collated nails, their best applications, and their benefits along with issues. This will help you decide which type is right for your needs.
Paper is most commonly used to wrap framing nails at a 30 to 34-degree angle. The framing nails are held together with a strip of paper and some glue. Paper collated nails are quite popular thanks to how inexpensive the wrap is, especially when using a considerable amount on the job site. They are mostly used for fasteners or framing nails in which many are used in a short time, such as roofers securing shingles to the roof.
One of the biggest advantages that paper collated nails offer is an environmentally friendly product. This is because the paper is driven into the surface along with the nail. This means that the paper does not scatter which results in a cleaner job site. Plus, the paper is driven in with the nail cleanly, so it does not get stuck under the head which can cause issues.
On the downside, the quality of the collation will depend on the quality of the paper being used. Not all paper is alike, so some may break apart quickly even before the nail is driven. This is especially true in conditions of high humidity, rain, or precipitation that weakens the paper itself.
Plastic Collated Nails
In this type, plastic is used to hold the nails in a strip or coil. There are two kinds of plastic collation; plastic strip and plastic band.
A plastic strip will generally hold framing nails angled 20 to 22 degrees. Sometimes, they are used to hold coil nails at 15 degrees. The name of the collation is self-describing as it consists of a plastic strip that will break open each time the nail gun is fired and the nail itself is driven into the surface. This type of collation is quite common and popular, being found around the world on construction and carpentry sites.
Because they are simple to manufacture and plastic is a common product, they are quite cheap to purchase. This may account for their remarkable popularity as a collated nail. The plastic is also resistant to humidity and precipitation, unlike their paper counterparts which tend to fall apart in such conditions.
However, because they are made from plastic when they break apart, they leave behind a big mess that needs to be cleaned up. And while rain, snow, and other types of precipitation have little effect on the plastic, they do tend to become quite brittle in cold conditions which means that they might fall apart before being ready to insert the nail. It also does not help that the plastic pieces tend to get caught under the head of the nail leaving it more exposed on the surface.
Similar in some ways to the plastic stripe, the plastic band tends to be wider and used for coil nails angled at 15 degrees. This type of band also sits higher on the nails as well, which helps make it distinctive from its strip counterpart.
Although similar in many ways, the wider band that sits higher on the nail eliminates many of the issues that the plastic strip offers. Because of its construction, the band tends to be driven into the surface along with the nail, so it does not wind up sticking out from the head. This means a smoother surface is left after being used. Plus, because the band itself is driven into the material, it eliminates the messy cleanup as common with the plastic strip. This means that whatever cleanup is needed is far less extensive.
However, the downside is that you will pay more for this type of collated nail. That may be worth it for those running construction or carpentry companies who pay for the cleanup of the job site. If a paper collation is not suitable, then a plastic band may be a welcome alternative.
Glue is mostly used for fasteners that consist of staples or floor cleats. This is because the glue collation is generally unsuitable for nails as the heads tend to keep the nails from being properly packed together. However, floor cleats and staples are identically shaped and can be stacked easily which makes glue the perfect way to keep them together.
The upside for glue is that it holds the staples or floor cleats in place until they are driven into the surface. There is no mess or cleanup because so little glue is used that it practically disappears after the item has been fired into the surface. It’s also arguably the cheapest of all collated materials given that only light amounts are spread across the floor cleats or staples.
The downside, beyond their inability to be used for nails or fasteners with heads, is that they do not provide any extra holding power for the item itself. Once they are driven, the glue does nothing to keep the item in place. In some ways, that might be a good thing depending on the surface in which they are driven and one day may have to be removed.
This is usually a thin piece of wire that runs lengthwise holding the nails or fasteners together. Mostly used for 15-degree coil nails and 28-degree framing nails, they are a common alternative to plastic or paper collation nails.
The upside is that wire weld avoids most of the issues associated with paper and plastic strip or plastic band collation. They are not subject to changes in temperature, humidity, or precipitation levels making them a true all-weather collation material. This may be why they are used often in either hot or cold climatic conditions around the world.
However, the wire is thick enough that it tends to get stuck under the head of the nail when driven. This means that the surface is no longer smooth as the head of the nail sticks out. Plus, there is a tendency of the material to shoot around the job site when in use. This means that clean-up will be necessary thanks to the many little pieces of wire lying around. Not to mention the danger to others as flying pieces of wire often occur when using this type of collation.
When choosing the right type of collated nails, you should account for the weather and temperature conditions along with the type of job that is needed to be accomplished. You may find yourself using different types of collation, so be sure to test them out first to see which works best depending on the conditions available.
In addition, different brands have different reputations when it comes to their long-term effectiveness. This will mean checking out which brand is the best and what type may work well in certain brands of nail guns. You may have to do a little experimenting first to see which brand has the right quality for the right price.