A nail gun is designed for one thing: to drive nails into materials. It’s a convenient, more efficient replacement for a hammer and nails.
Roofing, framing, and siding nailers are all used for different purposes. But can you use them interchangeably?
Let’s find out..
What Is a Roofing Nailer?
As the name suggests, a roofing nailer is used for attaching roofing shingles (asphalt, wood, synthetic, etc.) to the deck or sheathing. They are coil-style nailer where you can load 15-degree wire collated nails. Roofing nail guns are heavy-duty nailers, usually used by professional workers, but you could find one in the hands of a dedicated DIYer.
- Roofing nailers come in two types:
- Pneumatic: These are the most popular, and they use the power of compressed air to shoot nails at a fast and reliable pace.
- Cordless: These are nail guns powered by battery. They are quite convenient to use since you don’t have to worry about the air hose. However, the battery adds extra weight to the tool.
Unlike a brad or finish nailer, the roofing nail guns are meant for a very specific task and hence are mostly utilized by professional roofing contractors.
If you are a professional roofer or planning to do a lot of roofing work, then a Roofing nailer is worth investing in. However, if you are a weekend warrior or DIY enthusiast building a shed or replacing a few roofing shingles, I would consider buying a used one or renting a nailer, or sticking with the good old hammer and nail.
If you really need a roofing nail gun, go for a quality brand like Senco or Paslode.
Senco RoofPro™ 445XP
- Tool Type: Coil Roofing Nailer
- Nail: 11-gauge Full Round
- Light Weight (5.2 pounds)
- Power: Compressed Air
- Brand: Senco
- Price: Click Here to See Price
What Is a Framing Nailer?
Out of the three types of nailers that I’m focusing on today, framing nailers are the heaviest duty. Similar to roofing nailers, they have a very fitting name. They are ideal for jobs involving wood framing, more specifically, big-scale ones, like in the construction of a house.
A framing nailer can be loaded with nails of up to 3 ½ inches in length, making them ideal for joining 2×4’s together. They often see use in building:
- Wood sheathing
- Wood siding
Most models come with the option of switching between single, sequential or bump-firing. The newer models also got tool-free depth adjustment options.
Framing nailers come in two types: coil type and stick type. The coil type looks very similar to a roofing or siding nail gun. But the stick type has a long flat magazine and they come in 21° and 30° angles.
You can also use two different types of nails; clipped head and round head. The former is perfect for large projects because the strip can hold more nails but has slightly less holding power. Make sure that you check your local building codes as clipped head nails are restricted by certain building codes. Roundhead framing nails, on the other hand, have stronger holding power and are accepted by all building codes. However, a full round head will take more space to stack in the nail collation and hence hold fewer nails.
What Is a Sliding Nailer?
Siding nailers are used to installing – you’ve guessed it – siding. They can drive nails to attach siding panels to the backing, often a wooden mount.
It can shoot “shorter” nails with wider heads, between 1 ¼″ and 2 ½″ to be exact. Some models are capable of shooting aluminum nails, making siding nailers the perfect choice for aluminum siding.
Much like roofing nailers, a siding nailer is useful when you have a large siding installation project. If you are building a small shed or replacing a damaged siding, then a hammer and some elbow grease would be the way to go.
No Flush Nailing
External siding panels are subjected to extreme weather conditions and as result, they will expand and contract. To accommodate this seasonal change, sidings are not flush-nailed but hung. This is especially true for vinyl sidings.
Vinyl sidings are waterproof, beautiful and you don’t need to paint them. However, the vinyl panel has higher thermal expansion rates compared to other siding materials. A 12-foot vinyl panel can expand up to ¼ inch.
When you install vinyl sidings, do not nail them tight. Instead, keep a gap of approximately 1/32 inches between the nail head and the panel. Also, make sure that the nails are placed at the center of the nailing slots to allow the vinyl to move freely as the weather changes.
Roofing vs Framing Nailer
You can probably identify a framing nailer by its long angled magazine that accepts plastic and load paper collated nails. However, the coil roofing nailer and coil framing nailer look similar. Both roofing and framing nail guns may come with the ability to switch between single and sequential, as well as a tool-free depth-drive adjustment.
So what’s the difference?
Difference Between Roofing and Framing Nailers
The key difference between a roofing nailer and a framing nailer is the nail size. The roofing nailers are designed for driving 12-gauge nails up to a depth of 1 ¾ inch whereas the framing nailer shoots large 16d nails to a depth of 3 ½ inches. A roofing nailer requires less air pressure (PSI) from the compressor and is almost always a coil nailer. The framing nail gun, on the other hand, is a heavy-duty tool that comes in both coil and stick type magazines.
Following are some of the major differences explained in detail.
The roofing nailers are noticeably shorter than the stick-type framing nail guns. It is much easier to carry around; this is especially important when you are on the roof.
They also weigh less compared to framers.
As I have mentioned before, framing nail guns are usually loaded with 3 ½″ long nails. Roofing nailers, however, use shorter nails (up to 1 ¾ inches long) with noticeably bigger heads.
The roof is exposed to moisture, sun, salt, and chemicals. As a result, the nails will get corroded, especially if you are in the coastal areas. To overcome the corrosion problem, you must use either galvanized nails or stainless steel nails.
Galvanized nails are steel nails coated with zinc for rust prevention. There are mainly two types of galvanized nails depending on the method used for coating zinc.
- Electroplated and
- Hot dipped.
The hot-dipped nails have a thicker zinc coating compared to electroplated ones and hence offer better protection.
For roofing, ideally, you should use stainless steel nails; but they are expensive. The next best option is to use hot-dipped galvanized nails. On the other hand, framing nails are not exposed to moisture and hence common nails would do fine. To be safe, I recommend you use electro-galvanized nails from framing.
When it comes to the cost, roofing nailers fall in the similar price range of framing nailers, which is why many people ask whether they can use their existing framing nailer for roofing as well.
Can You Use a Framing Nailer for Roofing?
The short answer is no. The framing nailers are powerful tools that are used for joining 2×4’s together and as you can imagine it will exert a lot of force on the nail to accomplish this. The nails that a framing nail gun shoots out simply cannot hold shingles but will shoot through it.
The secret to keeping the roof shingles intact is a nail with a larger head flushed perfectly on the shingles and hence a dedicated roofing nailer.
A roofing nailer is used for attaching roofing shingles (asphalt, wood, synthetic, etc) on the deck or sheathing. But it is not ideal for fastening roof sheathing. When it comes to roof sheathing and felt, we need to use different nails and nail guns accordingly.
Roof sheathing is usually ⅝ inch Oriented Strand Boards (OSB) or plywood with 1/2″ thickness deck is fastened to the trusses and rafters. Here you will need longer nails. You can use a framing nailer for roof sheathing.
To install roofing felt, you need nails that have very wide heads to keep the felt in place. Plastic cap nailers, cap staplers, or clout nails are used for nailing felt. You can also get the cold adhesive felt that doesn’t require much nailing (use a few clout nails to secure them).Tip Talking about roofing felts, I found that EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) or rubber roofing is superior to traditional felt although they are expensive.
Framing vs Siding Nailer
What’s the Difference Between Framing and Siding Nailers?
A siding nail gun and a coil framing nailer may look very similar. However, they are designed to work with specific nails.
The primary difference between a framing nailer and a siding nailer is in nail size. Framing nails are up to 4 inches long whereas the siding nail has a maximum length of 2 ½ inches. Framing nailer comes in coil style and straight magazines (stick nailer). The siding nailer is usually a coil nailer.
You might be tempted to use a framing nail gun for siding installation. Framing nailers can be versatile outside of their main task, framing. They work flawlessly for subflooring, decking, sheathing, and fencing. However, if the job you have at hand revolves around the installation of siding, I recommend that you consider investing in a siding nailer for the following reasons.
The nails used for siding installation are smaller than framing nails. Siding nails are usually 0.12-inches in diameter and 1 ¾ inch long. On the other hand, the 16d framing nails are Ø0.162″ thick and 3 ½ inches long, which is much larger.
During siding installation, you are going to lift and hold the nailer for a long time. Framing nail guns are heavy! Compared to them, the siding nail guns are nearly half the weight and hence easy on your hands.
Coil siding nailers are less expensive compared to framers. Of course, it depends on the brand you chose. For framing, I would always stick with top-of-the-line brands such as Senco, Paslode, Hitachi, or Bostich.
Can You Use a Framing Gun for Siding?
With some changes to the nail size, you could use a framing gun for siding, yes.
It is doable if your framing nailer has depth adjustment. However, I recommend investing in a siding nail gun for siding installation tasks. But if you currently can’t afford to and you have a framing gun lying around and the proper nails, it is very much doable.
However, you cannot do it the other way around. That is, you can not use a siding nailer for framing. This is because siding nailers can’t support nails that are long enough to join lumber together, rendering them useless for framing operations.
Siding Nailer vs Roofing Nailer
If you have read so far, you probably know the difference between these two nailers. For those who have skipped the other sections and came directly to this section, let me explain how they differ.
What’s the Difference Between Roofing and Siding Nailers?
When you use nails for siding, they are meant to stay put in place.
Well, it’s because siding isn’t supposed to be replaced as often as roofing, for example. To ensure that your siding stays in place for a long time, you should be using the proper nails, more specifically, ones that are ring-shanked.
Roofing nails, on the other hand, need to come out easier than usual. This is because roof shingles may need to be replaced often. In case you were wondering earlier, that’s one of the reasons why roofing nails have larger heads; they are easier to grab and remove. Additionally, you can use smooth shank nails that will easily pull out.
Shingles are thin, so they don’t require long nails to be held in place. Therefore, roofing nails are rarely longer than 1 ¾ inches.
Nails found in siding nailers, however, are generally longer, with an average length of up to 2 ½ inches. One of the reasons why siding nails are generally much longer than roofing nails is gravity. Siding is installed vertically, meaning it’s more prone to gravity than roofing which is installed on a near-horizontal surface.
In other words, you wouldn’t be able to use roofing nails for siding installation.
More often than not, you would install a nail flush with the surface. Roofing nails, on the other hand, are meant to hold the shingles flush to the roof, so they themselves should be installed flush as well. However, that’s not the case with siding nails.
Since siding is vulnerable to weather conditions, it’s going to experience expansion and, consequently, contraction.
In order to allow the siding to expand and contract without cracking or bulging, you need to leave a small gap between the nail’s head and the siding.
This is also the reason why most siding nailers have adjustable controls for depth to allow you to make changes to how far the nail is being driven.
In general, siding nailers tend to cost more than roofing ones. That’s why some people look at roofing nail guns as an alternative for siding and other operations.
But if the task you have at hand requires long nails, you are going to have to grab a siding nailer sooner or later.
Can You Use a Roofing Nailer for Siding?
Generally, roofing nail guns are not recommended for siding unless you are blind nailing. When you do face nailing, most siding manufacturers would recommend you to penetrate the nail at least 1 ¼ inches into the substrate. So, if you have a ¼ ″ siding and ½″ sheathing, you need 2″ long nails to penetrate 1 ¼ ″ into the studs. Most roofing nailers are not designed to shoot long nails.
That said, you could use it for fixing or replacing a couple of siding panels, and James Hardie suggests it can be used for the installation of Hardie sidings.
Framing vs Siding vs Roofing Nailers Comparison Table
Roofing and siding nailers are designed to perform very specific tasks. They are both coil-style nailers. Framing nailer, on the other hand, is much more versatile and comes in stick type (long angled magazine) and coil style designs.
The following comparison table summarizes the difference between the three nail guns.
|Roofing Nailer||Framing Nailer||Siding Nailer|
|Short Nails||Long Nails||Medium Size Nails|
|Upto 1 ¾ inches long||2 to 4 inches long||1 ¾ to 2 ½ inches long|
|Smaller nails. Ø.1″ (12-gauge)||Large diameter .134″ & .162″ (8D & 16D)||0.12″ nails, 6d for Fiber cement sidings.|
|Coil Type||Stick or Coil style||Coil Type|
|Wide Nail Head (Ø 3/8 inch)||Clipped or Round Nails||Smaller head|
|Smooth shank or Ring shank||10d or 12d Ring shank nails||Ring shank|
|Not too heavy||Heavy tool||Lighter than framing gun|
|Flush Nailed||Flash nailed||Hung (Small gap of 1/32″)|
|Stainless Steel, Hot dipped||Commons, Galvanized||Hot Dipped Galvanized.|
Back to Contents
- What Is a Roofing Nailer?
- What Is a Framing Nailer?
- What Is a Sliding Nailer?
- Roofing vs Framing Nailer
- Framing vs Siding Nailer
- Siding Nailer vs Roofing Nailer
- Framing vs Siding vs Roofing Nailers Comparison Table