Siding Nailer vs Roofing Nailer: Which is Best for Your Needs?

  • November 29, 2018

using a nailer

The differences between siding nailers and roof nailers can be very small. If you’re embarking on a new project and aren’t sure which tool you need, that’s not a surprise. However, they do work differently, and that means that you need to know which one you need to get the job done.

Siding Nailer

Siding nailers are designed to work with wooden, or sometimes, vinyl siding. This means that they’re designed to fire a special kind of siding nails, designed to hold the siding up for extended periods of time. Consequently, they tend to be ring shank nails. The grooves on the side of a ring shank nail help it grip and stay in place for the life of the siding.

However, these nails aren’t designed to hold the siding perfectly in place. Instead, since vinyl expands in the sun, there’s a little wiggle room on a properly-driven siding nail, that allows the vinyl to expand and contract without cracking. Siding nails also tend to be an inch or two longer than roofing nails, since the weight they must hold is much greater.

a siding nailer

a siding nailer

Since nail length varies by material type, siding nailers often come with depth-of-drive adjustment, allowing you to get the exact depth that you want. This precision gives them some versatility for other tasks if you can find compatible nails.

Overall, the siding nailer excels at mounting siding, but it has some features that allow it to be a more versatile nailer. However, siding nailers are meant for siding and are the best tool for that task.

Roofing Nailer

Roofing nailers are designed to nail roofing, which typically means that they’re designed to put nails through asphalt or fiberglass. But, the big difference comes with the nails. Roofing nails are designed to be removed since you’ll need to replace your roof at least every 20 years. Hail storms or other damaging events can require more frequent roof-replacement.

So, roofing nails have a smooth shank and a wider head that helps hold the shingles flush against the roof. These features hold the shingles well, but they also make it easy to remove them when the time comes to replace the roof. While the nails do vary in length, to compensate for the thickness of various roofing materials, the basic design remains the same.

a roofing nailer

Since roofing nailers are designed for a single task, they tend to lack a depth-of-drive adjustment, which limits their usefulness for other kinds of tasks. Roofing nailers also tend to be large, since in their intended use they’re above the roof, and consequently don’t have to fit into small spaces.

Overall, roofing nailers’ intended use is on shingles. Since they use nonstandard nails, their compatibility with the kinds of nails that you’d use for other tasks, such as siding, is limited.


Unsurprisingly, roofing nailers are better at nailing roofing, while siding nailers are far better at working at siding. While the biggest difference between the two models is the kind of nails that they can fire, the lack of an adjustable depth-of-drive on most roofing nailers means that the siding nailer is going to be a better general-purpose tool.

About the Author Adam Harris

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!