How to Buy the Right Nails for Construction Projects

How to Buy the Right Nails for Construction Projects
Learn About the Different Types of Nails

BY JUAN RODRIGUEZ Updated July 14, 2018
Every nail used in construction has its own application and knowing how to select the right one can save you money. Nails are designed especially for materials and their intended use and choosing the right one might be the difference between a successful project or some claim in the future. Today nails are manufactured from stainless steel or steel, developed into a variety of sizes, styles ​, and dimensions.

Nail Types
Wood, metal, masonry, and gypsum all use different kinds of nails. One critical item that must be defined prior to choosing the type of nail being used is the thickness of the materials going to be nailed. Another important aspect you might want to consider is the type of use either permanent or temporary or considers if the nail is going to be installed on the exterior or it will be an interior nail. If it’s temporary some of you might think to use a screw instead of a nail, that being one of the multiple possibilities to choose from.

How to Use Common Nails
Common nails are usually classified according to their length. Common nails are weighed and sold in pounds and usually manufactured in lengths of 1 inch to 6 inches. The longer the nail, the wider it gets. A nail longer than 6 inches, is called a spike. Smaller head nails are great for finishing jobs because they can be fully driven into the surface and painted over. Common nails are used for construction and rough fastening jobs.

Where to Use Adhesive Coated Nails
Adhesive coated nails while driven can release heat from friction releasing the adhesive. Later the adhesive released from the nail friction cools, forming and hardened surface and bonds to the wood. A non-coated nail is referred to as bright.

What Type of Nails are Recommended for Roofing?
Roofing nails or clout nails are nails with a short shank and a wide flat head. They can be divided into smooth shank nails, ring shank, and screw shank nails according to the nail shank types. They can be used to fasten shingles, roofing felt, or sheet metal to wood. Roofing nails are usually treated to prevent rusting and may also have metal, lead or plastic washers

Types of Scaffolding Nails
Scaffolding nails are double-headed, one stacked on top of the other about ¼ inch or so apart, and as its name suggests, is used to build scaffolding, scenery, and other temporary structures. This type of nail is driven to the first head and the second nail is used later to pull it out.

Recommended Nails for Drywall
A drywall nail typically has a cupped head and a ringed shank. The most common lengths are 1 3/8 inch (3.74 cm) and 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm). They are available in different gauges, which indicate the diameter of the shank. The most common one is the 13 gauge nail. The ringed shank helps the hold the nail in place after it is driven through the drywall and into the stud.

Nail Head Invisible to the Eye
Finishing nails are used when the nail head must be invisible to the eye. Finishing nails have small heads and smaller diameters than common nails. These type of nails have a barrel-shaped head with a small diameter and a dimple on top. Once the nail has been driven almost flush with the surface, the point of a nail set is placed in the dimple, and the head is driven below the surface. When driving a finish nail, stop when the nail head is about 1/8 inch above the surface. Then place a nail set into the finish nail’s small indentation in the head and drive the nail under the surface.

Size and Application of Masonry Nails
Masonry nails are usually manufactured in three different types: round, square, and fluted. Masonry nails should not be used where high strength is required. Fastening to brick, stone, or reinforced concrete should be made with screws or lag bolts.

Carpet or Fabric Recommended Nails
Tack nails are available in both round and cut forms. Tack nails are used to hold carpet or fabric to wood. Upholstery tacks have decorative heads.

Types of Nails

Nailing is the most basic and most commonly used means of attaching members in wood frame construction. Usually, nailing is used as a structural connection and appearance is not a factor. Exceptions to this are nails used for cladding, decking and finish work, where care in the selection of the type of nail can lead to enhanced appearance.

Screws rely on their threads to develop resistance to withdrawal. Nails are faster to install but rely mainly on friction to resist withdrawal. For this reason, designs should ensure that nails are loaded laterally and that withdrawal loads are kept to a minimum as shown in Figure 5.1 in the previous section.

Nails are made in lengths from 13mm (1/2″) to 150mm (6″). Spikes are made in lengths from 100mm (4″) to 350mm (14″) and are of sturdier proportion than nails.

Types of Nails
Nails are manufactured in many types as shown in Figure5.2 below, and shapes as shown in Figure5.3 (in the next section) to suit specific applications.

In Canada, nails are specified by the type and length and are still manufactured to Imperial dimensions. Diameter is specified by gauge number (British Imperial Standard) and is the same as the wire diameter used in manufacture.

In the U.S., the length of nails is designated by “penny” abbreviated “d”. For example a twenty-penny nail (20d) has a lenth of four inches.

Pneumatic or mechanical nailing guns have found wide-spread acceptance in North America due to the speed with which nails can be driven. They are especially cost effective in repetitive applications such as in shearwall construction where nail spacing may be as close as 75mm (3″) to distribute load.

The nails for power nailers are lightly attached to each other or joined with plastic, allowing quick loading nail clips, similar to joined paper staples. Fasteners for these tools are available for every application from heavy framing nails up to 89mm (3-1/2″) down to upholstry staples 4.8mm (3/16″) in length. These fasteners are also available in galvanized form for corrosive applications.

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