Q & A - Roof Nails Through My Sheathing

December 2, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Is it normal for roofing nails to come through the comp, sheeting and slats?

Dennis asked, "I recently had my old shake roof replaced with composition shingles.  My question is the other day I had to get up in the attic and while up there I noticed that the roofing nails they used came through the comp, the sheeting, and the slats and where sticking out about an inch and a half, This isn’t very safe for anybody that needs to be up in the attic to do any kind of work. You will need to wear a hard hat and a steel suit to keep yourself safe. Is this the norm or did my roofer use the wrong size nails?

It is pretty common when tearing off a cedar shake roof to pound down the nails rather then pull them, where there is no overhang. Most nails come out with the shakes but many stays in the roof sheathing and are pounded down to make a clean surface for the next roof. An average shake roof will use about 15,000 nails. The medium shakes use a 1.75-inch nail and when driven in without the shakes, as you have, they will poke through a full inch if 1×4 inch sheathing is present. This is most likely what you are seeing.

I have been stabbed many times crawling around up there and have a one really nasty scar on my back from a nail puncture that ripped the skin. Unfortunately in your case, it is too late to do anything beside you bending them over or snipping them off in the areas well-traveled in the attic. It is something most roofer won’t mention prior to the roof being torn off because it takes so much more time to pull the nails rather than pound them down. What I am curious to see is if these nails you mentioned that were used for the new comp roof are what you see or if it is the old shake nails. I hope this answered your question, sorry for the bad news. – Bob

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