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What nails are used on a slate roof?

Posted By On 15 Dec 2017

Most slate roofs use copper nails as they typically last longer than stainless steel and compatible with copper, lead and lead-coated copper flashings. A standard ¼” thick slate will require an 11 gauge nail where a thicker slate will require a 10 gauge copper nail.    The nails are available in smooth shank and ring shank.  Most roofers prefer smooth shank as it makes for easier repairs.

Copper nails are used when installing a slate roof

Selecting the length of the nail will be based on ¾” minimum wood deck, the underlayment and two times the thickness of the slate. The most common nail lengths are 1 ½” and 1 ¾” with a 3/8” diameter head.

Copper slating nails in smooth shank and ring shank

In most cases, nails are sold by the pound. A 20” x 10” x ¼” slate will require 2.32 LBS of 1 ½” nails for one square of material. Each piece of slate will have two nail holes which are drilled or punched depending on the slate supplier. The holes should always be punched on the back of the slate and the thinner side of the slate.  Punching the slate will produce a spalled countersink on the slate face so the nail head sits flat.  Slates that are ¾” or thicker will require four nails per slate.

Sample of where nail holes are located on a piece of slate

Countersink nail hole on face of the slate
Image of countersink nail hole on the face of the slate
Image of nail hole punched from the back of the slate
Image of nail hole punched from the back of the slate

Visit our products/slate tools page for information on how many pounds of nails you will require based on the number of squares ordered.

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