Staple Gun vs. a Nail Gun for Roofing (And What the Standard is Now)

Are you wondering whether to use a staple gun or a nail gun for your roofing project? With the wide variety of tools available, it can be challenging to decide which one is best suited for your needs.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two tools, their pros and cons, and the current industry standards for securing shingles to roofs.

What is the difference between a staple gun and a nail gun for roofing?

A staple gun and a nail gun for roofing are two tools commonly used in construction, especially for roofing projects. Although they share a similar purpose for fastening materials, there are distinct differences between the two.

One notable difference lies in the type of fastener each tool utilizes. A staple gun, as its name implies, employs staples to secure materials together. These staples are driven into the material, and their legs are bent on the opposite side to secure them.

Conversely, a nail gun for roofing is designed to use specially designed roofing nails. These nails are longer and have larger heads to provide superior holding power when used in roofing applications.

Another distinction lies in the method of fastening. Staple guns push staples through the material and rely on the bending of staple legs to secure them.

In contrast, roofing nail guns use pneumatic or electric power to drive nails directly into the material. The nails are driven flush with or slightly below the surface, creating a strong and secure attachment.

Material compatibility is another factor that sets these tools apart. Staple guns are commonly used for lightweight materials like upholstery, fabric, or thin sheets of wood.

However, they are not typically used for roofing applications due to the limited holding power of staples.

Roofing nail guns, on the other hand, are specifically designed to secure roofing materials such as shingles, underlayment, and sheathing. The nails used in roofing nail guns offer superior holding strength and are better suited to withstand the weight and weather conditions experienced by roofs.

Moreover, nails generally provide better holding power compared to staples. Roofing nail guns are designed to drive nails deep into the roof structure, creating a strong and secure attachment that can withstand the forces of wind, rain, and other external factors that can impact a roof.

In terms of application, staple guns find use in various tasks, including upholstery work, attaching fabric or insulation, and light woodworking projects.

Roofing nail guns, as their name suggests, are specifically designed for roofing applications. They are used for installing shingles, securing underlayment, and attaching roof sheathing.

What should I consider when choosing between a stapler and a nail gun for roofing?

  • Roofing material: Consider the type of roofing material you will be working with. Some roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, are best secured with nails, while others may be suitable for staples. Ensure that the tool you choose is compatible with the specific roofing material you will be using.
  • Holding power: Evaluate the holding power required for your roofing project. Nails generally provide better holding power compared to staples. If you are working on a steep or high-wind area, or if the roofing material is heavy, such as tile or metal, a nail gun may be a better choice to ensure a strong and secure attachment.
  • Code compliance: Check local building codes and regulations to determine if there are any specific requirements for roofing fasteners. Some areas may have regulations that specify the type or size of fasteners to be used. Make sure your chosen tool and fasteners comply with these regulations.
  • Durability and weather resistance: Consider the durability and weather resistance of the fasteners. Nails designed for roofing applications are often coated or made from materials that provide corrosion resistance, ensuring they can withstand outdoor conditions. Staples may not have the same level of durability or weather resistance, which could potentially lead to premature failure of the roofing material.
  • Ease of use and efficiency: Evaluate the ease of use and efficiency of the tool. Look for features such as ergonomic design, adjustable depth settings, and quick reloading mechanisms that can enhance your productivity and reduce fatigue during extended roofing projects. Consider the weight and maneuverability of the tool as well.
  • Cost and availability: Compare the cost of the staple gun and nail gun, as well as the availability and cost of the corresponding fasteners. Assess whether the long-term benefits and performance of one option justify any price difference.
  • Project scope: Consider the scale of your roofing project. For smaller or occasional projects, a staple gun might suffice. However, for larger or professional roofing projects, a dedicated roofing nail gun is generally recommended for its superior holding power and efficiency.

What is the standard for securing shingles to roofs now?

The standard practice for securing shingles to roofs involves the use of roofing nails.

Roofing nails are specifically designed for this purpose and are the most commonly used fasteners for securing shingles.

The size and type of roofing nails may vary depending on the specific shingle and roof design.

Generally, galvanized steel or stainless steel roofing nails are used due to their durability and resistance to corrosion.

To provide better holding power and stop the shingles from lifting or blowing off by the wind, these nails typically have a larger shank diameter and a wide, flat head.

What type of nail gun is best for roofing?

The best type of nail gun for roofing is a pneumatic (air-powered) roofing nail gun.

These nail guns are widely used in the roofing industry due to their power and efficiency.

When choosing a nail gun for roofing, look for features such as a coil nail gun that can hold a large quantity of nails, adjustable depth control to ensure proper nail depth, quick jam release for easy clearing of jams, lightweight and ergonomic design for comfortable use, durability and weather resistance, and essential safety features.

What are the pros and cons of using a nail gun for roofing?

Using a nail gun for roofing offers several advantages, but it also comes with a few potential drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of using a nail gun for roofing:


  • Efficiency: Nail guns significantly increase the speed and efficiency of the roofing process compared to manually hammering nails. The rapid firing mechanism allows for quick and consistent nail placement, saving time and effort.
  • Ease of use: Nail guns are generally easier to handle and use compared to traditional hammers. They require less physical exertion and reduce fatigue, making them more comfortable for extended periods of use.
  • Consistent nail placement: Nail guns provide consistent nail depth and placement, ensuring a uniform and professional appearance to the roofing installation. Adjustable depth control features further enhance accuracy and prevent overdriving or underdriving of nails.
  • Enhanced holding power: Roofing nail guns are designed to drive nails deep into the roof structure, providing better holding power compared to hand-driven nails. This helps to create a secure and durable roofing system that can withstand wind and other external forces.


  • Initial cost: Nail guns can be relatively expensive compared to traditional hand tools. There is an upfront investment required to purchase the nail gun, along with the necessary accessories such as an air compressor and nails.
  • Learning curve: Operating a nail gun requires some training and practice to ensure proper usage and safety. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the tool’s operation, safety features, and best practices before using it for roofing.
  • Jamming: Nail guns can experience occasional nail jams, which may require time-consuming clearing and maintenance. However, this can be mitigated with regular maintenance and proper handling of the tool.
  • Dependence on noise and air compressors: Air compressors can make noise while operating, which powers pneumatic nail guns. Additionally, the dependency on an air compressor may limit mobility and flexibility on larger job sites.
  • Limited application: While nail guns are highly suitable for securing roofing materials, they may not be as versatile for other construction tasks. Depending on the type of nail gun and its features, it may have limited use beyond roofing applications.

What is the best type of staple gun for roofing?

If you are specifically looking for a staple gun for roofing, there are staple guns designed for certain roofing applications. However, it’s important to note that the use of staple guns in roofing is less common compared to nail guns.

When considering a staple gun for roofing, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Construction and durability: Look for a staple gun specifically designed for roofing applications. It should be constructed with durable materials to withstand the demands of roofing work and provide longevity.
  • Staple size and length: Consider the staple size and length that the staple gun can accommodate. Ensure that the staples available for the staple gun are suitable for the roofing material you will be working with.
  • Power and speed: Evaluate the power source of the staple gun. While some roofing staple guns use electric or battery power, others use compressed air (pneumatic). Choose a staple gun that provides sufficient power and speed for efficient stapling.
  • Adjustable depth control: Look for a staple gun with adjustable depth control. This feature allows you to set the staple depth, ensuring that the staples are driven to the appropriate level without damaging the roofing material.
  • Ergonomics and comfort: Consider the ergonomics and comfort features of the staple gun. Look for a model with a comfortable grip, lightweight design, and features that minimize user fatigue during extended use.
  • Compatibility with roofing materials: Ensure that the staple gun is compatible with the specific roofing materials you will be working with. Not all roofing materials are suitable for stapling, so consult with roofing professionals or manufacturers to determine if stapling is an acceptable method for your chosen roofing material.

What are the pros and cons of using a staple gun for roofing?


  • Speed and efficiency: Staple guns can be faster to operate than traditional hammering methods. They allow for rapid and consistent stapling, which can increase productivity and reduce overall installation time.
  • Ease of use: Staple guns are generally easy to handle and use. They require less physical effort compared to manually hammering nails, making them more comfortable for extended periods of work.
  • Versatility: Staple guns have a wide range of applications beyond roofing. They can be used for various tasks such as upholstery, insulation, and light woodworking projects. This versatility makes them useful for multiple projects, not just roofing.
  • Cost-effective: Staple guns are often more affordable than nail guns, making them a cost-effective option for those on a budget or with occasional roofing needs.


  • Holding power: Staples may not provide the same level of holding power as nails. In roofing applications, where wind and other external forces can impact the roof, staples may be more prone to pulling out or failing over time compared to nails.
  • Limited Material Compatibility: Not all roofing materials are suitable for stapling. Staples are generally better suited for lightweight materials such as fabrics, insulation, or thin sheets of wood. They may not be suitable or approved for use with heavier or more durable roofing materials.
  • Code compliance: Building codes and regulations may dictate the approved fastening methods for roofing. Staples may not be accepted or allowed in certain regions or for specific roofing materials. It is important to check local codes and regulations to ensure compliance.
  • Potential damage to materials: Staples can leave larger holes or punctures in the roofing material compared to nails. This may increase the risk of water infiltration or compromise the integrity of the roof over time.
  • Limited availability: Staple guns specifically designed for roofing applications may have limited availability compared to nail guns. It might be more challenging to find a dedicated staple gun suitable for roofing tasks.

What type of compressor is needed for a nail gun and a staple gun?

The type of compressor needed for a nail gun or a staple gun depends on the power requirements of the specific tool you are using. Here are the main factors to consider when selecting a compressor for these tools:

  • Air pressure (PSI): Check the required operating pressure of your nail gun or staple gun. Different models may have varying PSI (pounds per square inch) requirements. Ensure that the compressor you choose can deliver the necessary air pressure consistently.
  • Air volume (CFM): Consider the required air volume or airflow rate of the nail gun or staple gun, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The CFM rating indicates how much air the tool needs to operate effectively. Select a compressor with a CFM rating that meets or exceeds the tool’s requirements to ensure sufficient airflow.
  • Duty cycle: The duty cycle refers to the amount of time the compressor can run continuously before needing to rest and cool down. For roofing applications, where the use of a nail gun or staple gun may be intermittent, a compressor with a duty cycle of around 50% should suffice. This means that the compressor can run for half of the time and rest for the other half without overheating.
  • Tank size: Consider the size of the compressor’s air tank. A larger tank can provide a reserve of compressed air, reducing the need for the compressor to run continuously. This can be beneficial when using a nail gun or staple gun that requires intermittent bursts of air.
  • Portability and noise: Evaluate the portability and noise level of the compressor. Depending on the scale and location of your roofing project, you may need a compressor that is portable and relatively quiet for convenience and to minimize disruption.

Can you install shingles with a staple gun?

The use of a staple gun for installing shingles is not recommended or commonly practiced in the roofing industry. While staple guns have their applications in various construction projects, shingle installation typically requires the use of roofing nails.

There are a few reasons why staple guns are not typically used for shingle installation:

  • Holding power: Staples may not provide the same level of holding power as nails. Shingles need to be securely fastened to the roof to withstand wind, rain, and other environmental factors. Nails offer better holding power and are less likely to pull out or fail over time.
  • Material Compatibility: Shingles are designed to be installed with roofing nails, which have specific dimensions and features to accommodate the thickness and structure of shingles. Staples may not be suitable or approved for use with shingles, as they may not provide adequate structural integrity or meet building code requirements.
  • Longevity and durability: Roofing nails are specifically manufactured to withstand the demands of roofing applications. They are typically made from galvanized steel or stainless steel to resist corrosion and ensure long-lasting performance. Staples may not have the same level of durability or resistance to the elements.

Do roofers still use staplers for anything?

Roofers may still use staplers for certain applications in roofing projects, although their use is less common compared to nail guns. Staplers can be used in specific situations where they are deemed suitable and approved.

Here are a few instances where roofers might use staplers:

  • Underlayment installation: Roofing felt or synthetic underlayment is commonly used as a protective layer beneath the shingles. Staplers can be used to secure the underlayment to the roof deck, ensuring it remains in Place during the roofing process.
  • Flashing and trim: Staplers may be utilized to attach flashing and trim materials to the roof. This can include securing metal drip edges, step flashing, or other flashing components that require fastening to the roof structure.
  • Temporary fastening: Staplers can be used for temporary fastening during the roof installation process. They may help to temporarily secure materials such as starter strips or edge pieces before the final attachment with roofing nails.

Can you use staple guns on non-wood materials?

Staple guns can be used on a variety of non-wood materials, such as fabrics, insulation, wiring, crafts, and upholstery.

They provide a quick and efficient way to secure these materials to different surfaces.

However, it’s crucial to select the appropriate type and size of staples for the specific material being used and follow manufacturer guidelines.

Consulting professionals when in doubt about the suitability of using a staple gun on a particular non-wood material is recommended.

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Author: Logan

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