What size nail heads for asphalt shingles?

See pics. The old nails actually measured .375" across the head. The new nails are much smaller, about .320"

The guy said that is the size that they use in their nail guns and that when they hand nail, they use the larger head ones. Is that really a 3/8" head roofing nail?

Pic showing old actual 3/8" head nail on the left and the new nail on the right.

Metric nails should not be used on imperial shingles. :wink:

1 Like

The wider head was so you could slap it with hammer and not hit meat. I’ve seen old roofing tacks that had at least 1/2" head. The smaller head on gun nails is to cut completely through the shingle so the manufacturer won’t have to honor warranty. Insurance company picks up the re roof.

Thanks for the laugh, makes me feel a little better anyways.

But seriously, why would they use undersized nails? Is it save some money? Fewer jams in the guns? What will the building inspector say?

I was wondering if that is just the size that coil roofing nails come, but went to check a box I had from roofing a shed a couple years ago and they are a full .375"

And speaking of cutting through the shingles, this is on the starter strip:

That’s the only size coil roofing nails come in from any supplier in my area. It’s been that way the entire 15 years i’ve been in the trade. They aren’t trying to pull a fast one on you.


How It’s Made: Nails and Staples - YouTubeSmaller heads use less material.

Yep. Use the 12/32, head nails every day.

Thanks. That is interesting. My leftover box of coil roofing nails purchased from Menards a few years ago measures .375" My neighbor has a newer box from Home Depot that has the smaller heads, though the ones he got for hand nailing are a full 3/8"

When code says 3/8" minimum, that must just be a loose guideline as it seems that a lot of roofs are being installed with the smaller head nails.

Got a govt job in a historical district and they specified hot dip galvanized, barbed shank roofing nails. Had a hell of a time finding them 25 years ago…

1 Like

Hmmm…is it the nails, or the nailer? :thinking:

Air nailing allows for a lot of errors. If you set a nail like the one on the left with a hammer, the point would slip and the edge of the head would cut your finger.