Installing a new roof is a major project that requires careful planning and quality materials like roofing nails to get the job done right. But how many roofing nails per square do you need for a roofing project? Getting the right amount of roof nails is crucial for proper shingle installation and a durable, long-lasting roof.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about calculating the number of roofing nails per square that your particular roofing project will require. You’ll learn what a roofing square is, how to calculate your total roof square footage, how many nails are used per shingle, and how to derive the total number of roofing coil nails needed to complete the job.
With this useful information, you’ll be able to estimate accurately how many nails you need to buy and avoid wastefulness or coming up short. Let’s get started!
What is a Roofing Square and Square Footage?
In roofing terminology, a “square” is a measurement term that refers to 100 square feet of roof area. Roofing materials like shingles and underlayment are packaged and sold by the square since it makes it easier for roofing contractors to calculate how much material they need to complete a job.
To determine how many squares are on your roof, you’ll need to calculate the total square footage of your roof area. This is done by measuring the length and width of each rectangular roof plane and multiplying them together to get the square footage of each plane. For more complex roofs, break it down into individual rectangular sections and calculate each one.
Add all of the square footage measurements together to get your total roof square footage. Then divide the total square footage by 100 to determine how many “squares” are on the entire roof. This is the number you’ll base your roofing nail calculations on.
How Many Nails Per Shingle Are Required?
The number of nails required per asphalt shingle varies based on the shingle manufacturer’s instructions, local building codes, roof slope, and wind zones. But typically there are 4-6 nails used per shingle. Manufacturers recommend using 4 nails per shingle for lower roof slopes and basic wind zones.
For higher roof pitches or high-wind zones, using more nails per shingle (5 or 6) provides greater wind uplift resistance. Building codes may also require more nails in high wind regions. Consult your shingle packaging and local codes to determine the correct nails per shingle.
Calculating the Number of Nails Per Square of Shingles
Okay, now we know what a roofing square is and how many nails go into each shingle. Next, we need to calculate how many nails are required per square of shingles. Knowing this will allow us to determine the total nails needed for the whole roof.
The most common standard is to use 4 nails per shingle with a typical shingle coverage of 100 square feet per square. With four nails multiplied by the number of shingles in a square, it averages out to about 320 nails per square for most roofing jobs.
However, some regions or roofing products may vary from this standard nails per square estimate. For example, if your code requires 5 nails per shingle, you would end up using closer to 400 nails per square. And architectural or heavyweight shingles may have tighter shingle coverage (e.g. 80 squares per square) which would alter the per square nail count.
Calculating Total Nails for Entire Roof
Now we can take the nails per square estimate and apply it to the total number of squares on your entire roof to give you an accurate nail count for your project.
Let’s walk through an example:
- Your total roof square footage is 1200 sq ft
- 1200 sq ft divided by 100 = 12 squares of shingles needed
- Using the standard estimate of 320 nails per square
- 12 squares x 320 nails per square = 3840 nails for the total roof
This simple calculation can be used on any roof – just input your total roof square footage and nails per square to derive the total number of roofing coil nails you’ll need to buy for full coverage.
Extra Tips for Calculating Roofing Nails
- Remember that starter rows often require more nails – about 6 nails per shingle along the eaves. Account for them in your total.
- Buy about 5% extra as surplus for waste, repairs, and re-nailing needs down the road.
- Consider a brighter nail color like white for better visibility during installation.
- Ensure the nails are suitable for your roofing material type and meet code ring shank requirements.
- Discuss your calculations with your roofing contractor to verify before purchasing materials.
Choosing the Right Type of Roofing Nail
When it comes to roofing nails, not all nails are created equal. The type of nail you use can impact the long-term durability and weather resistance of the roof. Here are some of the main options for roofing nail types:
Coil Roofing Nails
- Made from galvanized or stainless steel in coils and collated into strips
- Budget-friendly option suitable for most asphalt shingle roofs
- 4-5 nails per shingle are commonly used
Ring Shank Roofing Nails
- Feature spiral shank for superior holding power
- Recommended for use in all high-wind zones
- Copper and stainless steel versions available for metal roofs
- May require 5-6 nails per shingle depending on wind uplift rating
Smooth and Cap Nails
- Smooth shank nails are the minimum standard for roofing
- Cap nails have a round plastic top to prevent sealing issues
- Best used for starters, ridge, and hip shingles if allowed by code
- Should be sealed over with asphalt cement for waterproofing
Make sure to use nails approved for your specific type of roofing material and follow local high-wind building codes. The right nails will help anchor the shingles securely.
Storing and Handling Roofing Nails
Once purchased, proper storage and handling of roofing nails is important to prevent corrosion or damage before installation:
- Store nails in a dry location protected from moisture
- Keep them sealed in manufacturer packaging until use
- Don’t dump nails loose into buckets which can lead to rusting
- Be cautious not to bend or damage nails when loaded into tools
- Handle them carefully to avoid fragments embedding into skin
Quality roofing nails free of defects, dirt, or rust will allow for smooth loading into pneumatic nail guns and prevent cracking or splitting of shingle tabs. Take steps to keep nails in pristine condition prior to and during your roofing project.
How Many Nails Per Bundle or Box?
When purchasing roofing nails, it’s helpful to know packaging quantities so you can buy enough. Here are some typical nail sizes and quantities:
- 1 lb box = ~225 nails
- 5 lb bucket = ~1,100 nails
- 25 lb carton = ~5,000-6,000 nails
With heavy shingles and higher nail count per shingle, you may need 50-60 lbs of nails per roofing square. Since nails are sold in set package sizes, round up your nails per square estimate to easily divide into full boxes/buckets needed.
Bulk packaging saves money, but smaller boxes can be easier to handle. Evaluate your total nail needs to find the optimal packaging and quantities for purchase. Ask your roofing supply retailer for recommendations based on your specific roof size and nail requirement calculations.
Extra Tips for Roofing Nail Usage
- Not all nail guns can handle the thicker shank of ring shank nails – check equipment compatibility first
- Soak nails in water on hot days to prevent cracking shingle tabs
- Hammer in temporary nails to hold shingles in place before final nailing
- Consider white nails for clay tiles and colored shingles for better visibility
- Discard and replace any nails that are bent, corroded or damaged
Using the right quantity and type of quality roofing nails will boost installation efficiency for roofers and enhance the holding power and weather-tightness of your new roof. With the proper nails and techniques, you can achieve durable long-term performance.
Key Takeaways on Roofing Nails Per Square:
- 100 sq ft = 1 roofing square
- Typical standard is 4 nails per asphalt shingle
- An average of 320 nails are used per square of shingles
- Calculate total squares x nails per square for entire roof count
- Buy 5% extra nails beyond calculated amount needed
Calculating the right amount of roofing nails is important for proper installation and lasting performance. Now that you know how to estimate how many roofing nails you’ll need per square for your particular new roofing project, you can buy the right quantity of nails for your contractors. This will prevent wasted time and materials. Just remember to verify your nail calculations with local codes and manufacturer instructions for your specific roofing job. And you’ll be ready to nail it!