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Lisa

Hand nailing, or nail gun?

We're getting a new roof next week - hail storm damage and all.  Should I insist that the shingles be nailed by hand, or would a nail gun work as well?  The roofing contractor said nail guns are far superior.  I've heard exactly the opposite.  Nail guns don't allow for variances in the subsurface - like decking seams and rafters, so nails could go too deep or not deep enough.  However, hand-nailing is only as good as the person doing the work, and I'd think that fatigue and poor skills could prove detrimental to doing a quality job.

Opinions?  We had a new roof done at our old house, and one of the guys submitting a bid advised us to require hand-nailing.  So we did.

While on the subject - decking material?  OSB  or plywood?  I'd say plywood, but the contractor wants to use OSB (oriented strand board, or what I've always heard of as chipboard).

Please tell me so that I can be smarter and make the best decision.

Thanks, ya'll!
DSJ

Decking for what?

What kind of roof?  Asphalt composite or shingles/shakes?
JimSnyder

Depending on your rafter spacing most roof sheathing these days is 7/16ths osb. 7/16" - 1/2" is fine if your rafter centers are 16".  I would use 1/2" with clips in between the rafters if your centers are 24". It also depends on what your local building codes are. Just make sure there is adequate attic venting to prevent moisture damage    
Lisa

JimSnyder wrote:
Depending on your rafter spacing most roof sheathing these days is 7/16ths osb. 7/16" - 1/2" is fine if your rafter centers are 16".  I would use 1/2" with clips in between the rafters if your centers are 24". It also depends on what your local building codes are. Just make sure there is adequate attic venting to prevent moisture damage    


Thanks, Jim.  I think we have 16 inch centers and I believe the guy is planning to use 5/8" OSB.  I see a lot of OSB being used, but is it really as good as plywood, or just cheaper?   I took a drive through a nearby ritzy neighborhood that had also suffered hail damage and saw a lot of plywood being put down.

What are your thoughts on nailing?  

In fact, here's a pic of the "lifetime" shingles we ordered.  This pic is from the GAF/Elk website, and it's the color and style we're getting (and it's asphalt/composite):

Lisa

DSJ wrote:
Decking for what?

What kind of roof?  Asphalt composite or shingles/shakes?


Decking to go under the shingles, David.  That's what I've always heard it called around here.  Jim refers to it as sheathing.  
JimSnyder

Lisa wrote:
JimSnyder wrote:
Depending on your rafter spacing most roof sheathing these days is 7/16ths osb. 7/16" - 1/2" is fine if your rafter centers are 16".  I would use 1/2" with clips in between the rafters if your centers are 24". It also depends on what your local building codes are. Just make sure there is adequate attic venting to prevent moisture damage    


Thanks, Jim.  I think we have 16 inch centers and I believe the guy is planning to use 5/8" OSB.  I see a lot of OSB being used, but is it really as good as plywood, or just cheaper?   I took a drive through a nearby ritzy neighborhood that had also suffered hail damage and saw a lot of plywood being put down. our mom's house

What are your thoughts on nailing?  

In fact, here's a pic of the "lifetime" shingles we ordered.  This pic is from the GAF/Elk website, and it's the color and style we're getting (and it's asphalt/composite):

Modern OSB is very good, Plywood is better but cost is maybe twice that of OSB. Plywood also holds roofing nails 46% to 76% better then OSB. Just don't let it get wet before they put the shingles on.  Without a doubt the hand driven nail is superior when applying roofing.  A driver blade of a nail gun will either leave the nail raised, flush, or, most likely, over driven. I love that roof. We just had a new roof put on our mom's house Tues. due to storm damage last month. There was a $500 deductible on the Insurance claim and they cut that in half because we let them put a sign in the front yard. Total out of pocket $250 for a new roof      I wish that storm would have hit my side of town  
ratae1950

I have to say that over the last 30 years practicing architecture and doing construction here in New England, I have never heard this debate regarding the nailing of shingles [asphalt???]. Any experienced contractor will soon realize that a row of nails is not 'biting' into the sheathing hammer or gun. The key to the issue is do you trust the roofer and does he/she have excellent references as well as a license and VERY IMPORTANT insurance? You could be on the hook if an uninsured worker falls and gets seriously injured. Here in Cambridge, contractors must be licensed and show proof of insurance to get a permit.

With regard to plywood versus OSB, I am conservative [finally] on this issue and would only specify plywood. For 16" or 24" on center rafters I would use 1/2" exterior grade plywood. My concern with OSB is possible future water damage, because the stuff 'blows up' like Weetabix breakfast cereal. Plywood is more money. Personally I do like working with the OSB. The product irritates my skin and I do not like the way it takes a nail.

Other things you need to scrutinize are how the roofer is going to handle the roof edges at the eaves and verges [if  you have verges], valleys and hips if you have them. Also, you need to discuss how any roof flashings are going to be handled--at chimneys/dormer windows etc., If the roof leaks it usually does so in these places. All these areas are impacted by the slope of your roof, which down there in OK can be pretty shallow. You do have to be very careful with the roof build up specification with shallow slope roofs....

Post some pictures so we can think of any other questions for you to ask.
JimSnyder

ratae1950 wrote:
I have to say that over the last 30 years practicing architecture and doing construction here in New England, I have never heard this debate regarding the nailing of shingles [asphalt???]. Any experienced contractor will soon realize that a row of nails is not 'biting' into the sheathing hammer or gun. The key to the issue is do you trust the roofer and does he/she have excellent references as well as a license and VERY IMPORTANT insurance? You could be on the hook if an uninsured worker falls and gets seriously injured. Here in Cambridge, contractors must be licensed and show proof of insurance to get a permit.

With regard to plywood versus OSB, I am conservative [finally] on this issue and would only specify plywood. For 16" or 24" on center rafters I would use 1/2" exterior grade plywood. My concern with OSB is possible future water damage, because the stuff 'blows up' like Weetabix breakfast cereal. Plywood is more money. Personally I do like working with the OSB. The product irritates my skin and I do not like the way it takes a nail.

Other things you need to scrutinize are how the roofer is going to handle the roof edges at the eaves and verges [if  you have verges], valleys and hips if you have them. Also, you need to discuss how any roof flashings are going to be handled--at chimneys/dormer windows etc., If the roof leaks it usually does so in these places. All these areas are impacted by the slope of your roof, which down there in OK can be pretty shallow. You do have to be very careful with the roof build up specification with shallow slope roofs....

Post some pictures so we can think of any other questions for you to ask.
Very good points Peter   raised nails can be found and driven flush.
Lisa

Thank you, Peter.   Excellent info.  Let me find some pictures that might help....

Attic view...



Exterior...

ratae1950

The rafters look like they are at 24" centers. The slope is pretty steep which is good.
Questions:
Why are you replacing roof decking?
I assume they are stripping off the old shingles?
The interior view looks like 2"x6" rafters @ 24" with 1"x??? boards with spaces between and plywood above..... ???
The roof structure is very creative. Has that propping always been there?
If the roofers are stripping the decking I would have them look inside the attic before they start.

Your roof is relatively complex with abutments [roof meets wall], valleys and what looks like a hip from the interior view, so I would make sure to get references from the roofer for projects of similar size and complexity. Ask past customers about the work and clean up. Roofers love to leave those big headed nails around after they leave...
Lisa

ratae1950 wrote:
The rafters look like they are at 24" centers. The slope is pretty steep which is good.
Questions:
Why are you replacing roof decking?
I assume they are stripping off the old shingles?
The interior view looks like 2"x6" rafters @ 24" with 1"x??? boards with spaces between and plywood above..... ???
The roof structure is very creative. Has that propping always been there?
If the roofers are stripping the decking I would have them look inside the attic before they start.

Your roof is relatively complex with abutments [roof meets wall], valleys and what looks like a hip from the interior view, so I would make sure to get references from the roofer for projects of similar size and complexity. Ask past customers about the work and clean up. Roofers love to leave those big headed nails around after they leave...


Peter, thanks for the pointers.  To the best of my ability, I'll try to answer your questions:

The original plywood decking on the main house will remain in place, with repairs made as necessary.  The detached garage has two or more layers of shingles but no decking, so all layers there will be torn off and decking laid.  (Maybe since it's just the garage I shouldn't worry about OSB board being used...)  The main house seems to have only one layer of shingles (apparently it was hard to tell; the insurance adjuster said there were two but the roof man says there's only one) but if there is a layer beneath it will be torn off.

I think you're right about the rafters and boards, with plywood above.  It doesn't look like chipboard from the picture.

As far as the propping inside the roof structure - you got me but others who have seen the attic say the same thing - that the bracing looks odd, or that it doesn't seem to serve much purpose. The house is 72 years old, so through that time who knows what all was done to it or why.

The roofing company is licensed and insured, and they've been in business a long time and are Better Business Bureau certified, for whatever that is worth.  It's just hard to know for certain if you're getting the best company for the job when it's something you don't have done very often -  can't build loyalty with someone who you only need every 30 years or so.  Given the situation here, with hundreds of houses needing new roofs all at once, we homeowners have been bombarded by roofing companies wanting our business - many from out of state.  The company we chose has a local office and they worked hard to get our business - they did a lengthy inspection and estimate, met with our insurance adjuster, and spent a lot of time talking with us.  So I'll keep my fingers crossed and try to keep asking the right questions.
LarryD

I think that the roof needs more proper structural support before you worry about re-shingling..

If it is moving, sagging, or unsound, then it will always have sealing issues at the flashing and valleys..............  not to mention one of those long runs of undersized beams collapsing.........
Lisa

Tools wrote:
I think that the roof needs more proper structural support before you worry about re-shingling..

If it is moving, sagging, or unsound, then it will always have sealing issues at the flashing and valleys..............  not to mention one of those long runs of undersized beams collapsing.........


Ack, Larry.  I don't want to hear that!   I have been a little concerned about leaks around the chimney - very slight bubbling in the paint can be noticed above our fireplace near the coved ceiling and in one wall next to the fireplace - the paint is wrinkled-looking.  We had a roof guy do some repair a couple years ago, but I'm not convinced it completely took care of the problem.  I hope that a new roof will be enough if attention is paid to how the chimney, vent pipes and others openings are sealed.

We had a structural engineer look at the house before we bought it.  I might try to find his report and see if he had any comments about the roof support.
ratae1950

Lisa wrote:
Tools wrote:
I think that the roof needs more proper structural support before you worry about re-shingling..

If it is moving, sagging, or unsound, then it will always have sealing issues at the flashing and valleys..............  not to mention one of those long runs of undersized beams collapsing.........


Ack, Larry.  I don't want to hear that!   I have been a little concerned about leaks around the chimney - very slight bubbling in the paint can be noticed above our fireplace near the coved ceiling and in one wall next to the fireplace - the paint is wrinkled-looking.  We had a roof guy do some repair a couple years ago, but I'm not convinced it completely took care of the problem.  I hope that a new roof will be enough if attention is paid to how the chimney, vent pipes and others openings are sealed.

We had a structural engineer look at the house before we bought it.  I might try to find his report and see if he had any comments about the roof support.



The way the roof comes down into the chimney creating a very acute angle behind said chimney is a classic 'picturesque cottage' move that I have seen a lot in the mid west. Unfortunately it is not a technically sound relationship between roof and vertical brick. Up here, where we have a lot of snow it would fill up with snow and ice and potentially leak. It is great that you are doing the roof because you can have the roofer pay a lot of attention to the flashing. It sounds like it is leaking a little already. Have them flash up the bricks on the back side maybe 3 or 4 courses higher and take a self sealing membrane [see idea below] up the roof slope at least as high under the new shingles, and 12" either side of chimney width. Discuss your friend's concerns with the roofer and see what he/she says.

http://www.roofingcontractor.com/...D_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000157448

Regarding the roof structure Larry said what I was thinking.... The roof is a strong shape with a steep slope. The plywood is adding a lot to it's structural strength, helping to create a kind of 'shell' when combined with the somewhat light primary structural  system of rafters and purlins. The props that we see are sort of ad hoc and asymmetrically placed, apparently transferring roof load down to what I assume are load bearing walls. It would be interesting to revisit the engineers report, for peace of mind....


That'll teach you for posting a home repair post.
ratae1950

Thinking about that chimney issue, if it were my house I would seriously consider roofing behind it and up a few feet with sheet metal. In England I would have a water tight lead trough put in.      
Rick

Lisa, Are you sure you dont have planking on the roof, instead of plywood? That would explain the stringers. Also, how does the garage roof have no substrate to support the roofing material?!?!

If you had more than one layer of shingles, you would see at least 3 individual shingle edges at the eave. A single layer, you would see two, because the starter course is a shingle installed up side down, with the exposed course laying directly on top, hence two shingle edges at the eave.

Roofers have been using air nailers since you were in grade school, back in the nineties! They can tell when a nail missed it's mark!
Lisa

Rick wrote:
Lisa, Are you sure you dont have planking on the roof, instead of plywood? That would explain the stringers. Also, how does the garage roof have no substrate to support the roofing material?!?!

If you had more than one layer of shingles, you would see at least 3 individual shingle edges at the eave. A single layer, you would see two, because the starter course is a shingle installed up side down, with the exposed course laying directly on top, hence two shingle edges at the eave.

Roofers have been using air nailers since you were in grade school, back in the nineties! They can tell when a nail missed it's mark!


Grade school in the nineties... yeah.  You know better!

Well, I'm not sure what's under them shingles but I guess we'll find out next week.  The roof is about 14 years old and I don't know what the norm was at that time.  

As for the garage, if you go inside and look up... well, heck, let me just run out and get a picture for you.  Back in a sec.
Lisa

Couldn't get closer without a ladder, but here's an edge view of the shingles.



Inside of the garage, looking straight up.  Those look like cedar shake shingles to me, and there's a layer of asphalt ones over those:

Rick

Lisa wrote:
Couldn't get closer without a ladder, but here's an edge view of the shingles.



Inside of the garage, looking straight up.  Those look like cedar shake shingles to me, and there's a layer of asphalt ones over those:



Lisa, that looks like a new shingle over existing shingle.

Looking from the inside, if those are cedar shakes, then someone forgot to put felt paper down first, unless they put the paper over the cedar, then put shingles on top ...  

Let's wait 'til next week, and you can put up a live feed, as the roofers strip off the previous shingles, and we'll tune in!

Honestly, I don't think you will have any worries! (fingers crossed emoticon!)
millime

Newbie here, and since this topic is an old one (found on a "nail gun vs hand nail" search), Lisa is probably ready for a new roof again    but I have to say that, had I been following this in 2010, I coulda' helped youse-guys who were wondering about her photos. They could have been taken of my home.

Those 1x4s nailed to each joist are industry standard for without which it would be impossible to nail wood shingles and shakes (wood shingles are smooth and can be overlaid, wood shakes are thicker, rougher and must be torn off for a re-roof). Looking at her exterior closeup there are 2 drip edge guards showing. Typically, that would be one method of telling how many roofs are on a house. From edge view only, it would appear she has only 2 roofs, but since she didn't get back on the thread, we don't know. Nevertheless, requires at least one layer tear-off.

However....I can guess that what happened was that the original wood shingles on her house were once stripped off to the 1x4s, ply decking nailed down, then the first (bottom) layer new composite shingles were installed, subsequently a second layer. No roofer in his right mind would remove the 1x4 stringers as it would be too time-consuming and counterproductive. It also gives a more solid base with which, IMHO, 3/8" decking/ sheathing/ substrate would be more than adequate. I'd bet that, while it looks nice and fluffy on top now, if she goes digging a little in her insulation she'll find a layer of unavoidable wood shingle debris that fell through from the tear-off. That would be reason to apply more insulation on top of the old.  Her garage photo shows the original wood shingles were never removed, and I'll bet that's where they found the three layers of roofs: wood-composite-composite. I don't recall Lisa telling us how long she had owned the home.

I'm not surprised she got different reports from her insurance inspector and the roofers. No apologies to any insurance inspectors out there when I say they are not equipped to do the job they claim to be experts at doing.

Finally, a dirty little industry secret is that the 2006 International Building Code R907.3 allows that wood SHINGLES may be left on in place of a complete tear-off. “New roof coverings shall not be installed without first removing existing roof coverings where any of the following conditions occur:  ...3. Where the existing roof has two or more applications of any type of roof covering.”  The key word is "applications."  A city codes employee told me that wood shingles may be considered as sheathing and not an "application." I don't think it has been argued in court, but it would be an interesting challenge to one's municipal codes if they were ever to force a homeowner to re-do a new roof for using their wood shingle as the "application" material. Roofers (and some city codes employees) will tell you it has to ALL come off--more labor $ for them. I even had one tell me as recently as yesterday that only ONE layer is allowed per city code...B*S*!

I'm not a roofer, just an old lady with a little life experience and very nearly similar story. Thanks for reading.
ratae1950

Welcome Millime!
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