Roofing Nailer Vs Siding Nailer: Which is Better?

The differences between siding nail gun and roofing nail gun.

Sometimes the advice you need to hear is also too obvious to you. Here’s an example of this that happened several months ago. A friend of mine asked me which between the roofing nailer and the siding nailer is best for installing his home siding. Well, I could not help but guffaw a bit, thinking that the answer was quite evident. But so as not to offend my buddy, I told him that he needed a siding nailer for siding installation.

Of course, it is understandable for tyros in woodworking to think that the siding and the roofing nailers are interchangeable. Because they look the same and both are coil nailers. Yet, as you become more experienced in woodworking, you will soon realize that they got evident and subtle differences, and each nailer got its name because it gets designed for its intended applications.

Differentiating the Roofing Nailer and Siding Nailer

If you want to raise your woodworking knowledge a notch higher, it will be best to know the difference between specific tools like the roofing nailer and the siding nailer. Below is a short description of the roofing nailer and siding nailer:

Understanding Roofing Nailer

If you line up the roofing nailer and siding nailer side by side, you would think they are almost the same. Yet, one not-so-obvious difference between the two is in terms of price. The roofing nailer is cheaper than the siding nailer. So, many buyers seem to opt for the roofing nailer even if they use it for siding installation. 

Another difference is in the nails they use. The roofing nails, for example, must come out. The reason is that roof shingles necessitate replacing sometimes. So, it will help if you use larger head nails that you can quickly grab. Besides, these nails feature smooth shanks, which means you can pull them out quickly compared to ringed shanks of the siding nails. 

Another thing is that roofing nailers must punch nails onto asphalt shingles. So, this task is more challenging than siding nailing. Yet, the nails for this task should be flushed installed as well. Hence, the nails should be shorter and around 1-3/4 long. The abovementioned factors differentiate the roofing nailers from the siding nailers. 

Pros:

  • The roofing nailers are affordable
  • They are convenient and easy to use
  • Perfect for driving roofing nails

Cons:

  • Lack depth adjustment
  • Designed for shorter nails
  • Drive nails, designed for easy removal likewise

Understanding Siding Nailer

The siding nailer is also a coiler nailer that you can use for installing siding. It looks like the roofing nailer, and it also works like the roofing nailer. Yet, as mentioned above, the primary difference between these two nailers lies in the nails they drive. 

Remember that sidings should stay put for a lifetime. So, the nails the siding nailers use should have high holding power. You don’t often replace siding compared to roofs. So, the nails you would use on them should be ring-shanked for better holding power. 

They should also feature small heads. You don’t install nails flush with the surface when installing siding. The reason is that siding is more exposed to the vicissitudes of the weather. As such, you should give the siding enough room for expansion and contraction. 

Hence, you don’t install siding nails flush. Instead, you leave a small gap between the nail’s head and the siding to allow for this contraction and expansion. Otherwise, the siding might crack. 

Besides, sidings get installed on a horizontal surface. As such, they need nails that are longer and around 2-1/2-inch long. Hence, siding nailers come with an adjustable depth feature to let you change the driving depth of the nailer. Lastly, siding nailers are more expensive than roofing nailers.

Pros:

  • They come with adjustable depth
  • Siding nails offer greater holding power
  • Allow for the use of different sizes of nails. 

Cons:

  • More expensive than the roofing nailers

A Comparative Analysis of Roofing and Siding Nailers Based on Several Factors

After reading the short descriptions of the roofing and siding nailers, it will also help if you check this comparative analysis of the roofing and siding nailers based on the following factors:

Design and Applications

They may have almost identical operating principles and designs. Yet, the siding and roofing nailers don’t have the same applications. The siding nailer, for example, gets designed for securing exterior sidings like vinyl, wood, fiber cement, aluminum, engineered wood, and fiber cement. 

Roofing nailers, however, are coil-type nailers. You can use them for installing composite shingles and asphalt shingles. You can also use them to install metal, synthetic, and wood shingles. The roofing nailers are less expensive and are less powerful than siding nailers.

Adjustable Depth of Drive

Since roofing nails get pounded, they are constantly flushed. So, you will find most roofing nailers lacking in depth of drive adjustment features. However, the siding nailers come with a depth of drive adjustment feature because you need to frequently adjust the driving depth of the nailer according to the materials you will be nailing and the climate of the place.

Magazine Style

Different nail guns come with varying magazine loading designs and mechanisms. They could have a coil or straight magazine. The roofing nailers, for example, feature a coil style magazine. 

Siding nailers, however, may be coil or straight styles. It will be best to go for the coil style magazines, for they offer reduced reloading frequency.

The Nail They Use

To understand the difference between roofing nailer and siding nailer, you should learn about the nails they use. Roofing shingles are estimated to last for only twenty years or less. So, within that period, you need to uproot the nails of the roofing shingles and replace the roofing shingles.

For this reason, the nails used for attaching roofing shingles come with larger heads and smooth shanks. These characteristics of the roofing nails allow for easy pulling out of the nails when you need to replace the roofing shingles. 

These nails are also shorter than the siding nails and have a maximum length of around 1-3/4 inches. They don’t need to be long enough because roofing materials are also very thin. Nevertheless, they should carry enough punching strength and power to go through the shingles. 

Sidings, however, are installed to last for a longer time than the roofs. 

They also don’t need much maintenance. Hence, siding nails are more robust and challenging to pull out. Besides, they must have greater holding capacity. So, they usually come with a ring shank. They also come with smaller heads because you won’t be pulling them out soon. 

Siding materials, however, like vinyl, wood, and plywood might not be thick. Yet, they are denser than roofing materials. Moreover, they might vary in length from two feet to 12-1/2 feet. Hence, they should be properly installed. For this reason, siding nails are longer than those of the roofing nails, and they range in length from 1-1/4″ to 2-1/2″. 

Additionally, roofing nails usually are galvanized for extra protection against corrosion. Siding nails are also hot-dipped galvanized for additional durability and strength.

Weight Comparison

Another succinct difference might be in the weight difference between these two nailers. Siding nailers, for example, are used vertically. So, they should be lighter and portable to cancel the effect of gravity. If you got a heavy siding nailer, your hands would get tired quickly. 

Siding nailers usually weigh anywhere between 4.5 pounds to 5 pounds. Roofing nailers, however, might weigh from 5.5 pounds to 6 pounds.

Cross-application

You might think that the use of roofing nailers and siding nailers is interchangeable. No, they are not. You should confine the use of the siding nailers to the installation of sidings, while the roofing nailer should be confined to roofing installation. However, you might be forced to use your roofing nailer to install sidings in some instances. But such is not recommended. 

Price Comparison

If you compare the prices of roofing nailers and siding nailers, you will discover that siding nailers are relatively expensive than roofing nailers. The mid-level siding nailers range between $150 to $350. Mid-level roofing nailers, however, range between $100 to $250.

Similarities of Roofing Nailers and Siding Nailers

As mentioned above, if you’re a newbie in using these two nailers, you might assume that both the roofing and siding nailers are the same. Yet, they are different, and as you become more versed with the other nailers, you will see their evident and subtle differences perfectly. 

However, they have one similarity: they are powered either by electricity or an air compressor. Both also come with safety features to protect their users. 

Besides, they can efficiently work in tight spaces. Plus, they both come with some depth adjustment mechanisms. Lastly, they are used to drive nails and attach different materials to a subsurface.

Conclusion

Installing roofing and new sidings are two of the most significant investments you can make for your home. Hence, it will help if you use the appropriate tools for their installations. You can’t experiment or shortchange yourself by using the roofing nailer for siding installation and vice versa. Nevertheless, if you don’t know the difference between these two tools, you might assume that you can get away with using the roofing nailer for siding installation.

Knowing the difference and similarities mentioned above will help you distinguish between these two nailer types. Thus, you can choose well the one you would buy and use. Remember that using the right tool will save you time and effort. Using the appropriate tool is also safer than suffering the risks of using the wrong tool.

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