You’re an experienced roofing contractor, and life is good. You’ve got a stack of clients, a reliable crew, a fancy new work truck, and a trailer to pull behind it. There’s just one problem; inside that trailer is a pile of beat-up, rusty old roofing tools you inherited from your grandfather. Sure, those tools worked great for him, but the ’70s are over. You can’t be sending your guys out to hammer nails by hand. Disco is dead, man.
Lucky for you, we have put together a list of 7 essential roofing tools for roofing contractors to help you update your trailer. Besides, Bill just hammered his thumb for the third time today, and that old wooden extension ladder looks awful wobbly.
Roofing Nail Gun
You come from a long line of roofers, your father, your father’s father, and his father before him. They all nailed shingles by hand; and indeed, it was poetry in motion. The subtle flick of the wrist to get a fresh nail between their fingers, the powerful, confident hammer swing to pound it home. Those were the days. But alas, today, we are stuck with modern technology that makes us exponentially more efficient and substantially increases our profit margins. The times they are a-changin’.
The reality is you probably barely remember a world without nail guns. Hitting the market in the 1960s, nail guns were adopted by more and more contractors every year thanks to their unprecedented efficiency.
These days, we live in the golden age of roofing guns. High-capacity coil nailers reduce reload time and help set new standards in roofing speed. We have recently seen the introduction of battery-powered roofing guns, eliminating the need for dangling hoses and heavy air compressors altogether. Nail guns are essential roofing tools for any residential or commercial roofing contractor.
Roofing guns and air compressors go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Jay-Z and Beyonce. You can’t have one without the other. Unless you plan on blowing really hard into the other end of the air hose.
What Size Air Compressor Do You Need?
What size air compressor you need depends on the minimum recommended air delivery SCFM @ 90 PSI your nail gun requires. SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. The SCFM @ 90 PSI requirements and capabilities should be visible on both your gun and air compressor.
- A typical six-gallon pancake-style air compressor can deliver about 6 SCFM @ 90 PSI. Most roofing nailers require between 2.8 and 4.2 SCFM @ 90 PSI. Therefore this air compressor is not suitable for most roofing guns.
- A 5.2-gallon, 3-horsepower horizontal air compressor can deliver 6.5 SCFM @ 90 PSI. Most roofing nailers require between 2.8 and 4.2 SCFM @ 90 PSI. Therefore this air compressor is suitable for most roofing guns.
You won’t be able to do much roofing if you can’t get onto the roof in the first place. A good collection of ladders is crucial for any good roofing contractor.
Aluminum vs. Fiberglass
Aluminum and fiberglass ladders are both quality roofing tools that offer advantages for different situations. Having a variety of ladders allows you to adapt to whatever the job site throws at you.
Fiberglass ladders are more robust than their aluminum counterparts and can handle more weight; they are also more durable and more resistant to weather. In addition, fiberglass ladders are resistant to electricity, making them imperative for working around power lines and other electrical features.
- Extremely rigid and strong
- Superior durability
- Resistant to electricity
While fiberglass ladders may be stronger and more durable than their aluminum counterparts, that does not mean that aluminum ladders are going to crumple under your weight. Most aluminum extension ladders are rated for at least 225 lbs. Plus, what aluminum ladders lack in rigidity and raw strength, they make up for in weight in maneuverability. Giant fiberglass extension ladders are extremely heavy and unwieldy. Aluminum ladders, on the other hand, are lightweight and nimble. They are also significantly less expensive than fiberglass ladders.
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Less expensive than fiberglass
- Less rigid and strong than fiberglass
- Not safe to use around powerlines and electrical features
The most important roofing tool for roofing contractors is their fall protection. We all know the old adage, “good help is hard to find.” You don’t want to let your good help go sliding off the roof.
In addition to the fact that you have a heart and don’t want your employees to get hurt, most commercial jobs won’t even let you onto a roof without proper fall protection. To even get in the door, you need to have adequate fall protection and prove that you and your crew know how to use it.
Fall protection is imperative, even if you are a small residential roofing operation. If OSHA catches your employees on a roof without proper fall protection, you could be looking at hefty fines and significant insurance increases. Get caught enough times, and they will shut you down for good.
Fall protection is sold in convenient, everything-included packages. Each set comes complete with a harness, lifeline, and anchor. These packages will typically cost you around $100, an incredible value considering how expensive the alternative is. Pick up a set for each employee and feel some peace of mind knowing that everyone is safe.
To put a new roof on, you must first take the old one off. Every roofing contractor should have a handful of roofing shovels in their trailer.
Roofing shovels are shingle removal tools that let you strip a roof with exceptional efficiently. Time is money, don’t waste time because you don’t want to buy one of the industry’s essential roofing tools. Grab a shovel, get up on that roof and go wild. Have a good, honest demo day up there.
If you really want to do things old-school, you can use your grandfather’s pitchfork, but it’s probably a rusty, splintery mess by now.
Aviation Snips or Tin Snips
Aviation snips and tin snips are similar tools that are both used to cut metal roofing, flashing, and drip edge. A good pair of snips can be the difference between a metal roofing job that cruises along smoothly and a tedious job that inches forward.
There are a variety of snips available on the market today; straight cut, left and right cutting snips, and even a cutting attachment for your impact driver. All of these varieties are roofing tools that deserve a spot in any good roofing contractor’s trailer.
If you are a residential roofing contractor, a roofing torch will hardly ever be necessary. However, if you often find yourself on commercial jobs, particularly with flat or nearly flat roofs, you likely already know the value of a roofing torch.
One of the most popular coatings for a flat or lightly pitched roof is torch down roofing. As the name implies, torch down roofing is applied using an open flame, propane torch. Though clearly dangerous, when used properly a roofing torch is an essential, money making tool for any good roofing contractor.
Quality Roofing Contractors Need Quality Roofing Tools
Whether you are an experienced roofing contractor or just getting into the game, you need to have the essential tools of the trade. Sure, you could just ask your dear old Pappy for his hand-me-downs, but your crew would really appreciate it if you didn’t.