Installing roofing materials like shingles or metal panels involves nailing through the roof deck and leaving nail heads exposed. While the roofing itself covers the nails, during construction or repairs there may be periods when nail heads are left uncovered. Exposed nails can back out or cause leaks, so protecting them is important. Here are some recommended ways to cover exposed roofing nails temporarily.
Why Exposed Nails Are an Issue
Exposed nail heads can lead to several potential problems if left unprotected for too long:
- Rusting and corrosion from moisture exposure which weakens the fastening.
- Backing out or working loose as the roof deck expands and contracts, compromising the connection.
- Creating holes or openings that allow water intrusion and leaks.
- Snagging roofers’ tools or feet which can tear the roofing or cause injuries.
- Being an eyesore on an otherwise attractive roof.
Covering the nails prevents these issues and protects the integrity of the roof.
Use Roofing Cement or Sealant
One easy method for protecting exposed nails is applying roofing cement or sealant over the heads. These thick, rubbery coatings are brushed or troweled on. When dry, they create a waterproof barrier.
- Use an asphalt-based cement for asphalt shingles, or a synthetic polymer sealant for metal roofs.
- Apply enough to fully cover each nail head with extra overflow.
- Press down firmly when applying to ensure a tight seal around the nail.
- Inspect periodically and reapply if any cracks appear in the coating.
Roofing cement is affordable and provides reliable short-term nail coverage.
Attach Protective Caps
Specialized nail caps are available that fit over the nail head and fasten in place. These plastic caps snap or slide on to fully encase the nail. Look for types made for roofing that resist UV rays.
- Caps may require a hammer or mallet to install securely.
- Ensure the cap size matches the nail head diameter.
- Seal the edges with sealant for extra leak protection.
- Replace any damaged or missing caps.
Nail caps provide durable long-term coverage if properly installed.
Use Roofing Tape
Applying roofing tape or flashing tape over nails can shield them from water. Use a high-quality, UV-resistant tape designed for roofing.
- Thoroughly clean and dry nails before applying tape.
- Press the tape down firmly leaving no gaps or bubbles.
- Use a roller to increase adhesion.
- Tape multiple nails in a row for efficiency.
- Inspect tape after storms and replace if lifted.
Tape offers a quick way to cover many exposed nails at once.
Add a Temporary Patch
For nails along seams or ridges, a temporary roof patch provides sturdy protection. Use the same material as the roof such as extra shingles, metal panels, or rubber sheeting.
- Cut patches slightly larger than the exposed area.
- Seal the underside and edges with waterproof adhesive/sealant.
- Weigh down patches if needed until permanent roofing goes on.
- Patch only areas that will be covered by final roofing.
Patches provide reliable coverage for nail-heavy areas when installed properly.
Exposed roofing nails are inevitable during roof projects. But with the right products and techniques, they can be quickly and affordably protected from the elements. Always cover nails promptly to avoid roof damage or leaks.