Roofing projects are a special job that requires very specific equipment. One necessary piece of equipment is a roofing nailer. Roofing nailers are heavy-duty machines capable of driving the deep nails that you need to keep roofing tiles attached.
Unless you are a roofing professional or hobbyist, you likely won’t have a suitable roofing nailer on hand. That is why we put together this comprehensive guide on the best roofing nailers of 2020. We will cover some ideal roofing nailer choices and also talk about important features to consider when looking for a roofing nailer.
First on our list is the Max USA Coil Roofing Nailer. The Max USA is a professional-grade nail gun and so comes with professional-grade performance. The operation pressure is high, ensuring thoroughly driven nails every time, and it has good adjustability features that make it versatile.
The Max USA only weighs 5.2 lbs so it’s easy to use for long periods without getting tired. It has a unique swivel-plug mechanism that prevents twists and kinks in the hose and a one-touch trigger lock to prevent accidental fires. There is also a rapid-fire trigger mode for when you need to lay down nailings quickly. It puts out 70-100 psi of pressure and a single magazine can hold 120 ¾”-1 ½” nails.
The Max USA also has a unique magnetized nose that holds nails in place in the chamber. This feature prevents jams in the magazine and the nose is tar-resistant. The depth of the drive can be adjusted using the tool-free dial on the back of the gun.
Why we like it
The Max USA Coil Roofing Nailer is a very high-quality nail gun that is suitable for professional use. It has several quality-of-life features such as the swivel-plug connector and tool-less depth of drive adjustment that enhance accessibility. It also has trigger-lock and rapid-fire trigger modes.
The Metabo HTP NV45AB2 is a powerful roofing nailer developed by Japanese multinational tool manufacturer Hitachi. The NV45AB2 is a pneumatic nailer that has a 16-degree oriented nozzle, which is the ideal position for roofing tiles. The NV45AB2is extremely powerful and works with ⅞”-1 ¾” nails.
The NV45AB2 has a durable rubberized handle that minimizes vibrations and ensures you can precisely line up shots. It has a tool-less depth of drive adjustment knob so you can set the depth by hand and it has a unique carbide tip near the nozzle which resists wearing. The Metabo also has a side-load magazine. Just open the case, place the nails, and you’re done; no magazine removal required.
The NV45BA2 is also very light at just 5.5 lbs. That is basically the ideal weight you want out of a roofing nailer. It has a 2-mode trigger switch that lets you change from sequential to bounce-fire modes. This feature is especially useful if you work on several types of roofs.
The Metabo HTP also has convenient rubber pads on the bottom so you can rest the gun on the slope of your roof when lining up shots. This is a useful feature as the pads let you brace the gun for more stability.
Why we like it
The Metabo HTP NV45BA2 is a great mid-range pneumatic roofing nailer for a wide range of projects. The pneumatic operation is precise and the angled design and rubber feet pads make lining up and bracing for shots easy. The side-load magazine cuts down reload times and the special carbide tip keeps the nozzle in good condition.
The Bostitch RN46 Coil Roofing Nailer is an aggressive and powerful roofing nail gun for all roofing applications. It can put out an astounding 100 nails per minute thanks to its quick and responsive contact tip auto-fire settings. When the magazine is out, the trigger automatically locks so you don’t fire on an empty chamber.
The Bostitch also has a tool-free depth of drive adjustment valve. You can select between 5 different preset channels so you can make adjustments on the fly. The gun has an operational pressure of 70-120 psi and accepts coil fasteners between ¾”-1 ¾”. It has a tactile rubberized handle with raised grip markings that reduce vibrations and are comfortable to hold for extended periods.
The Bostitch is also very easy to reload. Simply open the side canister, slide in a new coil of nails, and you can start firing again. There are no magazines to remove and the trigger automatically locks when you run out of nails, so you always know when it’s empty.
The best features of the RN46 is how quickly it can operate. The auto-fire setting is incredibly quick and the nozzle is made from a durable carbide material, which ensures the tip won’t get damaged from the fast action.
Why we like it
The Bostitch is a competent roofing nailer that both pros and amateurs can use for a variety of projects. The rapid-fire contact-firing mode is its most useful feature. It has a simple but effective rubberized grip, and an easy and reliable reload mechanism.
The Wen 61783 is an affordable and simple roofing nailer that is a good choice if you need a spare or backup roofing gun. It has a 120-capacity nail magazine, a 70-120 psi operating range, and can handle a wide range of nail sizes.
The Wen features a rubberized grip that is tactile and minimizes vibrations. It comes with a convenient carrying case made out of durable plastic so it’s simple to take from site to site. Both the shingle guide and depth of drive can be adjusted to fit different sized nails. The kit also comes with a pair of safety goggles, a cleaning solution, and a set of hex wrenches for making fixture adjustments.
The Wen 61783 handles ¾”-1 ¾” nails; large enough for most roofing applications. It has a simple side-load mechanism that features a quick-release switch to release nail jams.
The resin casing of the gun may feel tacky and cheap, but it is surprisingly durable and does a good job of muting unnecessary vibrations.
Why we like it
The Wen 61783 Coil Roofing Nailer is a suitable mid-range option and makes a good entry-level nail gun. It is very reasonably priced and has good standards features you want out of a competent nail gun. It can handle a wide range of nails, so it’s versatile for several types of projects. The casing is durable and minimizes shock recoil, so nail placement is precise and effective.
Last on our list is the 3Plus HCN45SP Coil Roofing Nailer. The HCN45SP is an inexpensive, reliable roofing nailer that makes a good entry-level option or backup roofing nailer. The setup is simple enough that less experienced builders can get full use out of it, unlike they would be able to with a more complex tool.
The 3Plus handles ¾”-1 ¾” nails and has an adjustable shingle guide that allows for more precise shot placement. The magazine holds 120 nails and the back of the gun features a tool-less depth of drive adjustment knob. One unique feature is the 360-degree adjustable exhaust valve. This is a useful feature if you will be working in tightly enclosed spaces or spaces with a lot of dust.
The handle features a studded durable rubber. The raised bumps give good traction and prevent any slipping when wet. One feature we really appreciate is the interchangeable trigger that can change between sequential or contact-fire modes.
Why we like it
The 3Plus is a useful and simple entry-level roofing nailer that makes a good tool to begin learning with or a spare. The design is intentionally simple but it works well at what it’s designed to do. It is lightweight, has an intuitive reload mechanism, and the side-skirt pad/shingle guides make lining up shots precise and reliable.
Roofing Nailer Buying Guide
Nail guns come in all shapes and sizes which can make your decision difficult. If you need a gun specifically for roofing work, then you need a nail gun with a specific design and the right kind of operation specs. Make sure to keep the following features/considerations in mind when looking for a roofing nailer.
Electric or Pneumatic?
Nail guns come in two main types: electric and pneumatic. Each kind has a different mechanism for driving nails and each kind has advantages and drawbacks.
Electric guns run on an electric motor and require a normal power supply. The benefit of electric guns is that they do not require a compressor to use and tend to have low maintenance costs as they have relatively few moving parts. Electric guns are usually not as powerful as pneumatic guns though and may lack precision. Also, with an electric gun, you have to carry around the heavy power cord.
Pneumatic guns, on the other hand, run using air. Pneumatic guns require a compressor to use which means they are often louder than electric nail guns. Pneumatic guns tend to be stronger and have an easier time pushing nails into tough materials like those on a roof. They are usually lighter than electric models too. One potential flaw of pneumatic guns is their construction. There are several moving parts, so it’s relatively simple for something to get out of place, like a loose hose, or leaky valve. You can read our article to find some of the best air compressors for roofing nailers.
Nail guns tend to have two main types of trigger settings: bounce-fire and sequential-fire modes.
Bounce-fire (also called contact-firing) means you can keep the trigger depressed and the gun will shoot a nail whenever the nozzle comes into contact with a surface. Bounce-fire trigger settings are very useful if you have a lot of ground to cover and you are nailing in a uniform pattern, as you would with roofing tiles. Craftsmen need to be extra careful with bounce-firing settings so that they don’t accidentally shoot off a nail.
Sequential-fire modes mean that the gun will shoot a nail only when the trigger is fully pressed down. Sequential firing guns are more useful if your project requires more finesse and precise nailings. You can take your time lining up a sequential-fire gun and there is less risk of accidental discharge, as the gun only shoots when you consciously press on the trigger.
Finishing a roof is not something you can complete in 30 minutes. So it is important to pick a gun that is lightweight so your arms don’t get fatigued. Based on our assessment and experience, the ideal roofing nail gun should be about 5-6 lbs. The heavier the nail gun, the more difficult it will be to properly place shots after some time.
This is one reason why we usually recommend pneumatic guns. Pneumatic guns are substantially lighter than electric guns because they don’t have as many solid internal components. Weight is important because it affects overall precision and how long it takes you to complete the project.
Given that you will probably be spending hours on the roof, you want something comfortable to grasp. Decent grips not only make handling more comfortable but also absorb shock which allows you to line up more precise shots. Typically, the best kind of nail gun grip will be made of rubber or another similarly durable polymer. You should also check to make sure it’s slip-resistant. A slippery grip can lead to misfires and accidental injuries.
Roofing tiles require specific types of nails for optimal hold. Roofing nails are thicker 11-12 gauge nails which are larger than the kind of nail you may find in carpentry projects, for example. It is important to make sure the nail gun you choose is fully compatible with the nail size you need to use.
Most nail guns have a magazine capacity of about 100-120 nails. Depending on your speed, a single clip could last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you are buying a roofing nailer for home and personal use, you may not need a huge magazine. Professionals, on the other hand, work on several roofs and may need an extra-large capacity magazine.
You should also consider how easy the reload is. You don’t want to have to stop for extended periods to keep reloading.
There are two key adjustability options you need to consider. The “depth of drive” refers to how far the gun drives nails into surfaces. For different projects, you may need a slightly different depth of drive. Larger materials, for example, will probably require a larger depth of drive to connect.
You should also look for exhaust valve adjustment options. Pneumatic guns give off a discharge of air when used. An adjustable exhaust valve allows you to direct the excess air where you want. If you use an electric gun, then you don’t have to worry about exhaust issues.
Ideally, you should never run into any serious problems and never have to invoke a warranty agreement. However, it is still a good idea to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
Keep in mind that nail guns may have separate warranty policies for different parts. For example, the frame may have a 3-year warranty but the connectors and internal components may only have a 1-year warranty. Make sure you know exactly what the warranty covers before buying.
Our top pick for the best roofing nailer is the Max USA Coil Roofing Nailer. The Max USA made our top spot due to its overall quality, power, ease of reloading, weight, and suitability for roofing jobs. The Max USA can put out a lot of power so you can be sure that roofing tiles are securely attached. It is also very lightweight for its power so you won’t get tired using it.
Roofing nailers are specialized tools for a specialized job. If you need a roofing nailer, then following this guide will equip you with the information you need to make an informed choice. Whether you are a professional or amateur hobbyist, a good roofing nailer is an integral part of your tool arsenal.
I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.