Last Updated on September 13, 2020
It’s not every day that you put in a new roof. In fact, it’s not even every year that you do it. Unless you’re a professional or a powerful storm comes along and tears your shingles to shreds, it’s a job that you’ll do only every few years. When you do it, you’ll have a choice to either pound the nails manually or use a nail gun. Manual work takes a long time, is physically demanding and prone to screw-ups. Anymore, a good choice is to get yourself a roofing nailer designed to handle the shorter, flatter headed nails used in roofing.
We took a look at some of the roofing nailers on the market and wrote reviews of them. We looked at a wide range of applications, features, and prices because the marketplace is filled with a diversity of options. If you get to the end and decide you want additional guidance, we put together a buyers’ guide based on the criteria we used in our rankings.
|Best Overall||Hitachi NV45AB2||
|Best Value||WEN 61783||
Everything a DIYer would want in a roofing nailer, the Hitachi NV45AB2. It’s not just the power or consistent quality, which it has. It’s also the little extras that go into working on a roof. That’s a tricky environment, where you have to stay aware of your surroundings at all times and where a dropped tool might mean climbing down a ladder while hoping it didn’t shatter on the cement at the bottom.
The NV45AB2 is lightweight and well balanced for easy handling. Reloading it is hassle-free. It’s also quiet, so that as you’re going down a line of shingles your concentration isn’t interrupted by a loud pop every few seconds. Combined with quality performance and reliability, we had an easy choice in our top pick.
You will pay for all of this. It will reach into your pocket, pull out your wallet and empty it. You’ll get a good return on that investment, of course, but if it’s not something you really need you can look at other models.
There are some pretty good reasons why Bostitch has a reputation for delivering professional results at a layman’s price, and the RN46-1 accounts for all of them. It has just about everything you’d want in a roofing nailer and brings it in at a price that if you want to pay for quality won’t leave you pale and shaking.
Its performance matches our that of the NV45AB2, and it’s every bit as easy to use on the roof as that one. It’s lightweight, well balanced and easy to load. You can rip through a row of shingles in good time and get it ready for the next one just as quickly. It’s also got a lockout mechanism to prevent inadvertent firing.
There were a couple of things with the design we didn’t like, however. The nose is too touchy for our liking. This one is priced for the DIY crowd, but the tip is touchy enough that you need to be a pro to really prevent double fires. It also blows out the trigger pretty easily. This is also something that a seasoned professional could workaround, but something that is likely to annoy hobbyists.
If you have a lot of roof to shingle, you might not want to rely on the WEN 61783 to get the entire thing done by itself. If you’ve got some repair work or a small roof section to replace, it’s a great budget alternative to spending a couple hundred dollars on other models. If you wanted a backup for something pricier, this one is a great model to consider for that, too. For those reasons, the 61783 gets our nod as best for the money.
It’s a little heavier and a little more unwieldy than some of the other models we reviewed, and it definitely isn’t designed to bring high quality over the space of a large roof. It’ll start showing its price the more you use it. It’s also a little slower to load.
The price is right, however, and if you want something to do some basic work or to serve as a backup in case your front line nailer goes down in the middle of a job, the 61783 is a great option to have.
The DeWalt DW45RN is a solid performer that might have warranted a more favorable ranking had it come with a couple of features that ought to be considered standards for roofing nailers. We dropped it to the number four spot not because of what it did, but because of what it didn’t have.
Our first knock is that it’s pneumatic. That means an air hose and an air compressor. This used to be the standard because cordless models were pretty unreliable. But, that’s changed now, and hauling everything associated with a pneumatic nailer up to the roof is a needless risk. There’s just too much that can go wrong. Beyond that, it has no safety hook and no sequential fire mode. That makes the odds of an inadvertent firing much too high for our liking.
You could probably argue with its performance, but we found it to be high quality. But, for the year, it’s not terribly safe.
When we say that the Freeman PCN65 is a good roofing nailer for fencing, we try to put as positive a spin on it as possible. But, we just can’t help it. This one isn’t terribly suitable for something that keeps rain off you. If you want to erect something that will keep your neighbor from sitting on your patio, it’s great for that, however.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has priced it. It’s very, very affordable for a roofing nailer. That should also prompt some hard looks. Sometimes when something is priced that much cheaper than the competition, it’s a diamond in the rough. Sometimes it’s just a cheaply made piece of junk.
This one is inaccurate, prone to misfires and won’t shoot short nails. That makes it a terrible roofing nailer. But, it’s great for erecting a privacy fence.
Buying a roofing nailer is a pretty big decision. It not only can cost a lot of money, it involves something that keeps the rain from falling on you. It’s not a decision to make lightly.
Roofing nailers are also specialized tools because they’re built around nails specially designed to handle roofing. Absent other work where roofing nails are the best ones to use, you’ll probably put your roofing nailer away until you either have to repair or replace your roof.
We’ve put together this little buyers’ guide with that in mind. You will want a lot of information in a hurry to get the right model for you, and then unless misfortune strikes it’ll be something that you won’t think about for a few years.
You’re buying a roofing nailer to replace your roof, emphasis on the word your. This is where your purchase decision starts, with figuring out what kind of roofing nailer is right for your roof. We almost can’t emphasize that enough. Lots of jobs will change over the years, but your roof is going to remain the same size and in the same place.
Access to and the size of your roof will go a long way to determine what kind of roofing nailer you ought to buy. Now that you’ve got this in mind, we can start breaking down the different kinds of roofing nailers.
There are two basic kinds of roofing nailers. Pneumatic roofing nailers use compressed air to drive nails in. They require a hose connecting the gun to the source of the compressed air. A cordless roofing nailer uses canisters of butane gas to fill an internal chamber and a spark to ignite it so that the rapidly expanding gas pushes a piston onto the nail head.
Pneumatic nailers offer more consistent pressure over a longer period. You don’t need to swap out batteries or gas canisters and can just move down a row of shingles at a pretty good clip. But, you’re also working up high, and while you can get the air compressor up to where you’re working that can be awkward and even dangerous.
Cordless roofing nailers offer greater range of work, which if you’re working on a large roof can be a tremendous plus. You have to swap out batteries and gas canisters, which takes time, but you also don’t have to worry about the location of the hose.
The material that your shingles are made of will be determined to large extent by the climate you live in. So, you’ll want to find a roofing nailer that can accommodate the ones you’ll install. The same goes for the nails.
A roofing nailer is also a pricey investment, so it won’t hurt anything if you look at models that offer a little versatility in case during the years between roofing jobs that something superior comes on the market.
When shopping for nail guns, it’s always a good idea to make sure that it’s not a pain in the neck to load. Loading coils of nails takes up time you probably would rather spend nailing stuff in place. When it comes to roofing, that’s especially so. You are working at height, which means you’ve lost the luxury of being able to easily pick something up that you’ve dropped. Look for a roofing nailer that cuts the time and reduces the hassle associated with reloading.
The ideal roofing nailer is compact for on-the-roof portability and light enough that it won’t be a chore taking it up and down. In fact, it’d be a good idea to visit a local store that sells roofing nailers and test out the models they have so you get a good idea for what feels comfortable to you.
Roofing nailers are pretty specialized tools. They can also be pretty expensive. While we wouldn’t suggest that you skimp on quality, we would suggest that if you’re looking for a tool line where you can look for a bargain, it’s this one. Unless you’re a professional, you probably just won’t get enough use out of it to warrant breaking the bank. Find the few key features you need and get yourself the best deal possible.
We liked the Hitachi NV45AB2 among roofing nailers. It is designed for use aloft and delivers premium results. The Bostitch RN46-1 is comparable in quality, but the nose is a little too touchy for us. The WEN 61783 is a great backup or front-line nailer if you have just a section to replace, but not much more. We knocked the DeWalt DW45RN as a pneumatic nailer in a cordless world. As for the Freeman PCN65, as a roofing nailer, we think it makes a great tool for building fences.
We hope you found our reviews useful or at least were able to glean a little insight from our buyers’ guide. We wish you the best of luck finding the right roofing nailer for you.
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Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!