Roofing nails are used in roof installation to fasten shingles, to install roofing felt for waterproofing and to attach roof tiles and sheet metal. There are different kinds of roofing nails, made of different materials and in various sizes. All roofing nails have wide, flat heads and short shanks. The tips of the nails are sharp and pointed for easy insertion so you don't break the shingles or damage the wood when driving the nails through.
Different roofing materials require different types of roofing nails. Aluminum nails are good for metal roofs and shingles, but they are not recommended for areas where they can be exposed to chemicals or salt. If you live in a coastal area, use stainless steel roofing nails. Stainless steel nails are also good for fastening tiles and slate, or you can work with copper nails for standard roofing purposes. Galvanized roofing nails are steel nails that are zinc-coated. They hold up better against rust, and they can also be used for asphalt shingles.
Another kind of classification for roofing nails is by size. Standard lengths are between 1 and 2 inches (2 and 5 centimeters) but they are also available at lengths of up to 6 inches (15 centimeters). The length of the nail is the shank, and the shank can also vary. Screw shank nails are twisted and have sharp diamond tips, and they are used to securely fasten wood roofs. Ring shank nails have a larger nail head; they are usually made of galvanized steel, which are strong and good for fastening shingles in areas with strong winds. The standard, cheapest and most commonly used roofing nails are smooth shank nails. They are generally made of aluminum, stainless steel or copper, and they're not as strong. The shank length you need depends on the roofing material. Use 1-inch (2.5 centimeters) nails for asphalt or fiberglass shingles; you’ll need longer nails for wood shingles, which are thicker.