Ask Angie: Should roofing nails protrude through the soffit?
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List
Dear Angie: I recently realized that the nails from my contractor re-shingling my roof/shed are protruding through the soffit areas on my shed. These nails protrude about a ½” and can be readily seen. When contacting the roofing representative we dealt with during our roofing project, we were told “the work was done according to Code standards and the company uses 1 ½-inch nails on all projects”.
He stated code standards are “that the nails protrude thru the surface”. This would be fine if the nails were inside a roof but not if they are now readily exposed. I would think common sense would tell you to use shorter nails. Is the roofer correct? How do I find out what the Ohio Code is for exposed soffit areas on my shed? – Connie T., Centerville, Ohio
Dear Connie: Your contractor is correct in his interpretation of the Ohio Building Code and that of the National Roofing Contractors Association, which state that nails must be long enough to penetrate through all roofing materials and extend through the underside of the deck or penetrate a wood plank by ¾ of an inch, even if that surface is less than ¾-inch thick.
So, based on the code, nails are indeed supposed to extend through the decking, unless the decking is thicker than ¾ of an inch. Unfortunately on building structures that have exposed soffits like yours, nails will protrude through the wood deck and be exposed.
That said, if you aren’t happy with the appearance, your contractor should have been more willing to discuss your options (and you do have some) in advance. One possible solution would be to increase the thickness of the soffit with extra wood or vinyl materials as, in essence, a nail base.
However the protruding nails can actually be a good thing. Roofing contractors have told me that electro-galvanized nails that protrude past the sheeting edge can attract water, which can help prevent the wood deck from absorbing the moisture and rotting.
Regardless, your roofing contractor should be willing to work with you to address any cosmetic issues to your satisfaction. I recommend you speak directly with a supervisor at the company, explain your position and ask for options. If you still feel like you’re not getting the response you want, consider seeking help from the Angie’s List Complaint Resolution service, which works with Angie’s List members who have submitted a negative report on a service company as a mediator between the two parties in an effort to obtain a satisfactory outcome.
You can read up on all building codes at the Ohio Dept. of Commerce site at http://www.com.ohio.gov/dico/BBS.aspx. Codes change frequently, so always check for updates to codes before taking on any home improvement project.
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