What Size Roofing Nails For 3/4 Plywood?

Are you working on a roofing project, and are you wondering which nail you should use for a 3/4 plywood roof sheathing? Wonder no more, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

The nail to use will depend on the shingles or shakes that you will install. Here are some common shingles and shake sizes that you might want to consider and use as reference:

  • 3-tab shingle – use an inch-long nail
  • 3-tab shingle over another 3-tab shingle – use an inch and a half long nail
  • Dimensional shingles – use an inch and a quarter long nail
  • Dimensional shingles over a 3-tab shingle – use an inch and a half long nail
  • 18-inch straight split wood shake – use a minimum of an inch and three-quarter inch long 5d box nail
  • 24-inch tapersplit wood shakes – use a minimum of an inch and three-quarter inch long 5d box nail

Let’s talk more about the different factors that you should consider when determining the ideal nail size that you should use for your roof.

Read on!

Close up view on asphalt roofing shingles background with hammer and nails, What Size Roofing Nails For 34 Plywood?

What are roofing nails?

Roofing nails are a type of nail that is made specifically for use in the installation of the different parts of the roof, like the roofing felt, the shingles, sheet metal, flashing, or roof tiles. The most distinguishing feature of a roofing nail that sets it apart from other types of nails is the size of its head.

Roofing nails have a wide head that is ideal for keeping something down.

What are the different types of roofing nails?

Roofing nails are made from different materials that allow the nail to perform differently under specific situations. However, despite the different materials that they are made from, the diamond shape of their tip is a common characteristic.

Always check your local building codes for roofing nail suggestions and guidance when it comes to which nails to use for a roofing project.

Here are the three basic types of roofing nails.

Smooth Shanks

Smooth Shanks - Finishing galvanized nails

The shank of a nail is the longest part of the nail, and it is the part that will pierce through the shingles and the plywood to keep the shingles in place.

Roof shank nails are the most common of the three basic roof nails. They have a smooth shank, as the name implies. They also have the characteristic large heads of roofing nails.

Ring Shanks

Ring Shanks- Close and low of a small pile of steel ring shank nails arranged

This type of roofing nail gets its name from the rings along the length of its shank. To an untrained eye, a ring shank roofing nail can be mistaken for a screw. The rings or ribs of a ring shank nail are not connected like in a screw.

The rings give this nail a better grip on the wood.

Square Cap

A square cap nail has a smooth short shank. This type of nail is for fastening the felt underlayment. It is not a good nait for fastening shingles because of its short shank and large head.

The larger square head will show from under the layers of shingles, and it will ruin the look. The large head is ideal for fastening the felt underlayment.

What materials are roofing nails made of?

All three basic types of nails can be made from three different materials that allow the nails to behave and perform differently. The material that roofing nails are made from serves specific purposes that you can match to the needs of your roof.


Steel - Steel bar cutting.

Steel makes strong roofing nails.

These nails can be made from stainless steel or galvanized steel. These two types of steel are resistant to rust and corrosion. This makes them ideal roofing nails.

Roofing nails made of galvanized steel or stainless steel are best for coastal houses because of their resistance to rust and corrosion. You can also use them for slate and ceramic roofs.

It is best to fasten asphalt shingles with roofing nails made from galvanized steel.

There are two ways of galvanizing steel—electro galvanization and hot dipping. The latter is better because the layer of zinc that prevents rust and corrosion is thicker.


Copper - Close-up copper wire raw materials and metals industry and stock market concept

Copper is a strong metal that is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion.

You will often find copper roofing nails in homes with copper accents where copper nails will add to the copper décor. They are also the common nail of choice for copper flashings.


Aluminum - Warehouse of aluminum plates. Rolled metal products

Although aluminum has a weaker material strength than copper or steel, you can still find aluminum roofing nails. Some roofers prefer aluminum roofing nails for use on asphalt shingles.

Although aluminum does not rust, it is vulnerable to corrosion. Chemical and salt damage can also affect aluminum.

How to choose the right length of roofing nails?

Roofing nails on a white background

The length of available roofing nails often ranges between one to two inches.

It is important to pick the right length of the nail for your roofing project so that the nail will penetrate the shingles and go through the OSB roof deck. A good rule to follow when determining the best nail length is that the diamond tip should penetrate the wood.

Letting the nail penetrate the roof deck helps ensure that the wood will not push the nail out.

What is nail withdrawal?

As the wood expands and contracts through the changing seasons, the wood slowly presses the pointed tip of the nail. Since the pointed tip is diagonal. The force that the wood exerts on the tip of the nail creates a parallel component force that has a different direction of application from the direction of the original force.

This results in the parallel force slowly pushing the nail upward and out of the hole.

Letting the pointed tip penetrate the wood eliminates the possibility that the wood will push the nail out. Even though the wood will push against the sides of the nail, the absence of the pointed tip will eliminate any force that will have a component parallel force that will push the nail along its length.

Ring Shank Nails And Nail Withdrawal

The rings of a ring shank nail help prevent nails from sliding out of your roof. When the wood pushes against the shank of a ring shank nail, the wood also effectively grips the nail harder instead of pushing it out of the wood.

How to get the right length of roofing nail to use?

It is important to plan the nail lengths and the type that you will use. Combine the thickness of the roof deck and the shingles. Consider that you might need to nail multiple shingles over each other, especially when you get to the top of the roof’s incline.

Ridge and hip shingles will also need nails that are longer. The roofing nail needs to penetrate more shingle layers for these shingles.

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Alternative Nail Units For Length

Some roofing nails are measured based on a unit of measure known as penny length. It is an old system of classifying nails. This unit uses a number followed by an uppercase “D.”

The shortest is 2D which is the equivalent of an inch-long nail. Next are 3D, 4D, and so on, up to 6D. Each increment represents an increase in the length of the nail by a quarter of an inch.

Some lengths can go beyond 6D. However, after 10D, the increments are no longer a quarter of an inch.

What are roofing nail gauges?

The gauge of a nail measures its thickness. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the nail.

Some building codes have a nail gauge requirement. Always check with your local building code to find out if there have a minimum gauge requirement for roofing nails.


The ideal roofing nail length that you should use depends on the shingles that you plan to install. Measure the thickness of the shingles and the thickness of the roof deck that you’re going to use. The total length of your nail should not include the diamond tip of the nail.

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