Hand Nailing vs. Air Nailing Guns: Pros and Cons

Pneumatic nail gun benefit or blunder

roofing air nail gunTake a look around at the roofs in your neighborhood. A lot of hard work went into making those shingles fit perfectly together. Before the days of modern power tools, construction crews relied on their bare hands to get the job done. If anything conjures the image of carpentry better, it is the old “hammer and nail.” The advent of air nailing guns brought about enormous benefits in the roofing industry, namely the ability to complete extensive projects in a fraction of the time.

What once required multiple laborers to accomplish can usually be done with a few people in a good day’s work. Some things are best left unchanged, however, and roofing by hand is one of them. Do not get us wrong, the rate of speed and ample production output of a nail gun are simply unbeatable; an average Joe can quickly surpass the fastest roofer using his hands nine times out of ten. However, with sleight of hand comes the increased risk of people making mistakes.

Regardless of the tool, slow and steady wins the race

In the hands of a skilled roofer, one who has been trained in the proper use of his equipment, a nail gun can serve as invaluable tool among the many in the tool bag. Give this same machine to someone with less than adequate experience, and you get all too common problems like under/overdriven nails, angular as opposed to straight drives, incorrect placement and so on and so forth.

The weather also plays a major role in whether using a nail gun is the most feasible option. Excessively cold temperatures (i.e. at or below the freezing mark) can result in costly shingle damage. The material is too brittle for the impact of the gun, causing the nail to break parts of it off. Too hot and the device will result in overdrive; this is when the nail is driven through the shingle entirely and becomes buried in the wood below. There has yet to be a nail gun that can be adjusted for changing climate conditions, but this would definitely be a worthwhile invention!

All blame cannot be placed on the tool alone, as too often is the laborer at fault. To keep costs low for customers and to complete as many jobs as possible, many roofing contractors pressure their crew members to work under tight deadlines. We all know the consequences of taking shortcuts; quality suffers when employees try rapid fire techniques.

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