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Cap Nail Comparison: Hand Drive vs. Collated Cap Nails

Cap fasteners are a must to fasten roofing underlayment, but what's the difference between hand drive and collated cap nails, and which should you use on your projects?
stinger cap nailer

There have been many advances in roofing technology over the past few years to make jobs better for installers while helping them better protect roofs against the elements. For example, moisture management systems on roof decks have shifted from felt paper and staples to the new best practice of synthetic underlayments and cap nails. Manufacturers often require hand drive or collated cap nails to secure roofing underlayment, and they are necessary to meet building codes in some areas, especially those with high wind.

So what's the best cap nail for your crew: hand drive or collated cap nails and pneumatic cap nailers, like the STINGER® NailPac® and award-winning CN100B? We've compared the two so you can choose the better, faster, and safer option for your installs.

Better Performance
Hand drive cap nails are better than a nail alone at holding underlayment in place, but they take precision with the hammer to drive them to the proper depth. And even when driven correctly, they don't make an effective seal to keep water away from the fastener hole. Plus, if you don't cover the underlayment quickly, the plastic cap will whiten and even crack after a bit of time in the sun.

STINGER collated caps, on the other hand, won't crack under prolonged UV exposure, lasting up to 10X longer than hand drive caps, exceeding ASTM D7869-17. They are also code-compliant and proven through independent testing to hold on in category 5 hurricane sustained winds of 150 miles per hour with wind gusts up to 180 miles per hour, which is why it's the only fastener of its kind to earn Florida Product Approval. Plus, they create an effective seal, reducing moisture penetration while limiting tear-aways of exposed underlayment.

stinger cap nailer

Faster Installs
With hand drive cap nails, your speed is determined by how fast you can grab a new fastener from your pouch, hunch over, and nail it in place. These fasteners are also clunky, and you'll have to reload your pouch often and spend some time cleaning up all the cap nails that fell onto the ground during installation.

With a pneumatic cap nailer like the CN100B with a bumpfire and sequential mode, you can load up your tool, then walk and fasten rows of underlayment in no time. In addition, the CN100B has an excellent fastener capacity, holding 200 caps and nails for reloads that happen infrequently and simultaneously. With an adjustable depth of drive, it's also easy to fasten the cap nail precisely every time.

Safer Jobs and Homes
With hand drive cap nails, you need both hands to grab the next fastener and place it onto the hammer—not ideal when walking on a roof. Swinging your arm down can also create a balance shift, and all that up-down hunching over isn't great for your body. And when it comes to the home's safety and integrity, homeowners may face moisture problems in the future since the cap nails may not prevent underlayment blowoffs in severe weather.

Using a cap nailer, you can have a safer installation that's better for your body with three contact points on the roof. While installation with collated caps and a cap nailer is safer, you're also making the home safer by better protecting the roof deck from weather damage and future moisture problems. That's why STINGER collated cap fasteners are backed by underlayment manufacturers like GAF® and are a part of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety's (IBHS®) FORTIFIED Home™ program that ensures water will stay out of the house in the event of severe weather.

To better protect homes and have a better installation experience, it's time to put down the hammer and switch to the better, faster, and safer combination of collated cap nails and the pneumatic cap nailer.