Last updated on:
Going the DIY roofing route isn’t exactly easy, but it can be made a little bit better if you use the very best tools on the market.
Replacing your roof is commonly the most costly and high-risk renovation in your home, because if you mess it up, you could be five to ten grand in the hole.
You want to know that what you’re doing is right, and roofing nailers drive nails through fibreglass without cracking it (most of the time), unlike other nailers.
You need the best roofing nailer to tackle the task at hand, which is why we’ve devised this elite list of the top five.
You’ll have nothing shy of the very best to choose from after dozens of comparison tests, broken down piece-by-piece into operating pressure, capacity, weight, warranties, brand reputation and more—everything’s thought out, you just have to decide which budget and features work best for you.
Let’s get into it.
Best Roofing Nailer: Reviews & Recommendations
WINNER: Bostitch Coil Roofing Nailer
Ready to get some shingles down?
It’s important to have the right roofing nailer to prevent any breakage in your roof shingles, and Bostitch, as you might not be surprised by, is the clear frontrunner in this space. As the best roof nail gun, it exceeds expectations in terms of performance.
With a hair trigger, pressure sensitive button to actually drive the roofing nails down, you can just press it up against the shingle and barely flick your finger. For more experienced roofers, this will be a plus, but it does take some time to get used to.
In many ways, Bostitch keeps up with the Joneses’ in terms of operating pressure and capacity, not that that’s a bad thing. With a 120 nail barrel, you have all the capacity that you’re going to need.
After a while, things can become excessive and add too much weight onto any tool, so 120 seems to be the sweet spot that most manufacturers are aiming for.
Speaking of weight, this comes in at 5.8 lbs, which is smack dab in the middle of all the other nailers on this list. They just hit the target on keeping it lightweight enough to be useful and usable, but still with that high capacity, and a 70-120 psi operating pressure.
That pressure range is important because otherwise, you’re not going to be able to drive your nail into the shingle without splitting it. You want lower for thinner shingles, and higher for those stubborn ones that you really need to drive down (also if you’re replacing roof framing during a repair).
So ultimately, why is it the best?
Not only are you backed by Bostitch’s seven-year warranty, which includes a lot of coverage, but you also have a very low jam rate. You don’t want to have to dig a nail out of here in the middle of a DIY roofing job, but it’s going to happen with just about any brand nail gun that you use.
The good thing is, after a full nail drum, you might run into a single jam the entire time, or once every few drums to be fully transparent. It’s an abnormality when it happens.
RUNNER UP: 3PLUS HCN 15 Degree Coil Roofing Nailer
What do we really know about 3Plus?
After this, we know that they’ve found a way to make nailers meet the true budget needs of most DIYers out there, because this budget-friendly coil roofing nailer comes in with enough power to get the job done without robbing your wallet in the process.
It’s our second best roofing nail gun because of the sheer power it produces in a 70-110 psi range. That’s a bit lower than what Bostitch can provide, but many times, you aren’t going to use the full 120 psi in your nailer. You’ll be able to get away with about 90 in most cases.
Despite the lower range, this is still a great nailer for contractors and commercial carpenters, not just the DIY crowd.
Stash up to 120 nails in the drum, but prepare to wear a wrist brace while you use this.
It’s heavy at 7.2 lbs, which can be a bit of a game changer for many people out there. 7.2 lbs doesn’t sound like a lot until you have to hold this thing for three hours straight, at an angle, trying to make sure that every single nail is driving down as deep as you need them to.
We know the price is awesome, but what’s the other benefits for 3Plus? For one, they have a full 360° tool-free air exhaust, so this won’t build up too much heat.
I say that it won’t build up heat in terms of the operation, but I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to make an all-black roofing nailer where the sun is going to constantly be hitting it. I wouldn’t use this without wearing gloves, that’s for sure.
There’s also an interchangeable trigger in place for single shot or bumper fire functioning, as 3Plus puts it, so you can change it based on what your needs are.
It’s heavy, it’s got a good grip on the handle, and the counterweight on the bottom means it won’t lean forward too much when you go to use it. Overall, it’s a solid, budget-friendly pick.
ALTERNATIVE: WEN Pneumatic Coil Roofing Nailer
WEN will we learn that they’re always going to be a top pick?
I’m not apologizing for the terrible pun. To be completely serious, WEN has proven to be a durable brand time and time again, which is why their roofing nailer really just hits the right spot between power, affordability, and versatility.
While figuring out how to approach this roofing nail gun review, I looked to the kit that it comes in first and foremost.
The hard plastic carrying case includes hex wrenches to adjust your nailer as you see fit, as well as oil to keep everything operating at full efficiency. That efficiency, by the way, is 70-120 psi on a rapid fire mode that allows you to really push through those nails in the drum.
I will say that there’s a learning curve here. If you’ve never used a roofing nailer before, then WEN is good because it’s very forgiving, but it can also be beneficial to seasoned roofers because of how rapidly you can sink nails if you have the right settings. That brings me into its weight, which is difficult to form an opinion about.
Ideally, you want somewhere around five-and-a-half pounds so that it’s not too heavy, but this comes in at a flat six pounds, so you’re going to feel a bit more pressure on your wrists. There’s a foot on the front of the nail drum, so when you go to rest this on the shingles and press it against them, you won’t have to shoulder all of that weight at once.
They did fail in one area though, and that’s the warranty. One of the reasons that WEN charges the way they do is that they don’t have a super long warranty fulfilment period, so they have less liability by selling inexpensive items.
I consider one-year warranties to just be a courtesy and to avoid hectic issues with customer service and returns. They do what they can to fulfill the warranty, but it’s not very comprehensive as a heads up.
ALTERNATIVE: MAX USA Coil Roofing Nailer
MAX USA holds a weird place in the tools space, because on one hand, they make some pretty good, long-lasting tools.
On the other hand, they’re berated for customer service and warranty length. In my experience, they’ll fulfill a warranty no problem, but most other concerns kind of fall by the wayside.
However, we’re going to judge one of the best coil nailers on an individual basis, not just for the entire brand. To kick things off, you get that perfect weight of 5.2 lbs, so you’re not going to be destroying your wrist tjust to use this.
The foot on the bottom of your drum is fairly short, but it has a nice flat base to it to keep it steady while you use it. As a heads up, that foot is entirely removable, so you aren’t stuck with it if you don’t want it.
You get that standard 120 nail drum size, with a maximum length of 1 ¾” per nail, which is all pretty standard. However, there’s a tar-resistant nose on the end of this, which is some good forward thinking on MAX USA’s part.
You’re only going to get a one-year warranty on this, which includes that tar resistant nose, so tread carefully with your new nailer.
While it isn’t a big deal, it’s important to know that this doesn’t come as part of a kit. There is no carrying case, it just comes in a cardboard box. Pricing also changes a lot, so you might find that one day it’s at a good price, and then it’s at a 15% increase the next.
I don’t really know what they’re doing here in terms of pricing, but the nail gun itself has rave reviews, there’s just a little bit more difficulty with acquiring it than there should be.
ALTERNATIVE: Carpenter Air Tools Pneumatic Coil Roofing Nailer
Last but not least, this little-known brand comes at you with a seriou competitor that comes so very close to the rest. It really was a hard pick here, guys.
Here, you get the same great 120 nail capacity that we’ve been seeing, and a very precise amount of pressure. You get 70-115 psi, which is something I’ve not seen before on a roofing nailer.
But that’s not the focal point of this nailer. The weight sits at 5.7 lbs, which is right in that sweet spot I’ve been mentioning throughout these reviews, but it’s thanks to the lightweight, durable heat-treated aluminum that they use.
Because of their highly durable materials, the price is going to reflect it, but you’re also going to get a seven-year warranty to cover a ton of different manufacturing errors and damages. It’s like a free seven-year insurance policy with the way they do it.
If you pay close attention, the rubber on the hand grip is very textured, which is designed to give you natural traction when you’re using it. Some rubber grips end up feeling like you’re grasping sandpaper, but this does a good job of staying functional while also being comfortable.
The last major point that I want to stress is that you’re given the option of using the contact firing mode. If you’re an experienced roofer and you want something high-end that can help you work faster, you’ve just found it.
Flip on contact mode, and simply applying light pressure to the head will enact the gun to fire and drive nails into the shingles in front of you. If you like to jump from shingle to shingle quickly, you’re in luck.
Roofing Nailer Buying Guide & FAQ
What Kind of Nailer is Used for Roofing?
It all comes down to gauges. Roofing nails are 12 gauge, and a finish nailer is going to pump out 15s and 16s, and a brad nailer pumps out 18s, just for some quick reference.
Because nail heads have heavier shanks and are designed very, very specifically (since they’re part of what’s protecting you from the elements), they need a special kind of nailer.
Roofing nailers can be a bit heavy, but they’re also versatile. You have a foot on the bottom of your coil, which is sometimes removable, and it lines up with the head of your nailer.
This means you can rest it at the angle of your roof, and it will just sit there. Line up your shots if you aren’t 100% confident, and pull the trigger.
What is the Difference Between Roofing and Framing Nailers?
We’ve looked at coil roofing nailer reviews, and in all of them, I didn’t mention the gauging of the nails.
Framing nails are typically called 16-penny nails, which are 3 ½” long. You’re not going to see that in roofing nails, not in a million years. Depending on the shingle brand and their installation instructions, you’re probably going to see 1 ¼” up to 2” at the most. That’s a big 1 ½” jump.
You can look at roofing gun reviews anywhere, and you’re going to see that people only use them for roofing. That’s because the typical 12 gauge nails in these guns aren’t really used for much else. They’re very specific.
Roofing nailers are pretty big and bulky, but they’re nothing compared to a framing nailer. Some of those things are absolute beats and actually require that you use your free hand to hold it in place during nail driving just to keep things steady.
Framing nailers are more powerful and may require a higher psi, though in most cases you can get away with a cap of 120.
Framing nailers are used to build the frame of your home, which eventually your roof will rest on, which you will use a roofing nailer to do. You just don’t get more powerful than framing nailers unless we’re talking about commercial-grade equipment here.
How Do You Use a Roofing Nailer Coil?
To get things going, most roofing nailers are going to be pneumatic and hooked up to an air compressor. Make sure the compressor is not plugged in, the air hose is not plugged in, and if you think you’re being too cautious, trust me you’re not.
Start by finding the release on your nailer. This is usually located near the head. This release will open up part of the head, which extends down to the barrel that the nails travel up from the coil. The coil is your drum on the bottom of your nailer, between the hilt and the head, and rests right in front of the trigger/buttons on the handle.
Take your coil of nails, which usually come in spools of 120 at a time, and remove whatever plastic film or rubber band is around them. These are just to keep them sturdy during packaging, but they can jam up your gun if you leave them on, so be careful here.
Next, you’re going to place the coil inside of the drum. Pull the strip of nails away from the drum, after making sure your nails are angled in the right position, and lead the first strip through the chamber.
You’ll rest the first nail with some sort of alignment, which you can usually see as a slight divot where the air is going to come out of the nail gun, and connect with the head. There should be inlays to position your nails, so this shouldn’t be all too difficult to line up properly.
Snap the drum closed once everything is in place.
How Many Roofing Nails Do I Need?
On average, most shingle manufacturers are going to suggest, or perhaps ensure by the warranty, that you use four nails per shingle on any roof replacement or repair job.
This rule changes for the first layer of shingles that you put down, which is five nails per shingle to ensure they stay in place, since they’re kind of the shoulder to lean on for the other shingles.
Your roof covers your entire home, and as you already know it’s a lot of square footage. If you follow these rules to a tee, and of course you should check out your shingle manufacturer guidelines before acting, you’re going to go through about 480 nails for every one-hundred square feet of roof space that you have.
This is an average based on middle tiles, not first row, and the average shingle sizes that most of us use on our roofs.
Because of the way most roofs peak up, you might have 800+ square feet of roof space, and you always want to have a buffer for lost nails or mishits if you’re using a hammer. For an 800+ square foot roof, that’s over 4,160 nails, and I would add at least 200 (roughly 5%) for a buffer.
The Cheapest Roof You’ll Ever Pay for
If you can truly DIY your own roof, or at least your own roof repairs, then you’re going to save a lot of money.
The trick is doing it right, but if you can master that (and you’re confident in your own abilities), then you’re going to cut down big percentage points on your own roof repairs and renovations.
You’ve got this, now that you have the right roofing nailer to help you out.