High Wind Nailing Pattern for Shingles Installation

When preparing for a roof job, you need more than just a good tile nailer. You also need more than an understanding of OSHA safety rules. Whether it’s a complete re-shingle or just a repair, you’re bound to hear talk about a high-wind nail pattern. This goes double if you live near the coast or somewhere in Florida. In hurricane-prone areas, high wind nail patterns are mandated by local building codes.

The high-wind nail pattern came about (officially, at least) in 2003. Since then, the International Building Code has required roofers to fasten shingles with six nails. You also need to position the nails correctly in front of the seal line. They needed these high wind speed products on all roofs in wind areas of 110 mph or more. Clapboard manufacturers now produce products at speeds between 60 and 130 mph, using two-hour endurance tests.

See our article on using a roofing nail.

High wind nail pattern for 3-tab shingles

So what does this high wind nail pattern look like? On traditional 3-tab shingles, it looks like this:

high wind nail pattern 3-tab shingles
Red dots mark the nail holes for a 6-nail nail pattern in high winds on traditional 3-tab shingles

Note that the nails are just below the tar line. Keep your nails on either side of the opening. You want them away from the center of each individual gravel. That will keep the gap in the clapboard above from exposing the nail head below. Here’s a visual example of what you do not want:

3-tab shingles nail holes
Note how nails (marked as red dots) in the center of a 3-tab clapboard will show when the next coat is applied.

High Wind Nail Pattern For Architectural Shingles

For architectural or dimensional shingles, the nail pattern would look something like this:

high wind nail pattern for architectural shingles
Red dots mark the nail holes for a 6 nail high wind pattern on architectural shingles

With architectural shingles, you don’t have to worry about nails poking through the holes. Unlike 3-tab shingles, they use an architectural layer on top of a solid layer so there are no gaps. As a result, you simply spread the nails evenly across the width of the clapboard. Make sure to stay about 1 inch from the sides and keep the nails just below the tar line. You also don’t want nails to appear below the level of the clapboard resting on the nails.

Additional tips for work

Some roofing nailers have an adjustable clapboard guide. This automatically sets the position of the nail relative to the underside of the shingle. This is very useful, but after a while you’ll probably find yourself nailing quickly and accurately, without a guide, after you’ve done a few rows.

We recommend a 6 nail pattern whether you live in a high wind area or not. It just doesn’t take that much more effort. Most people use pneumatic roofing nailers, so adding a few extra strokes takes little effort. The costs are certainly not much more. Keep in mind the hassles associated with any kind of early roofing material failure, and you’ll probably agree that a little extra time and money spent up front can save a ton of hassle down the road.

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