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Ring Shank vs. Smooth Shank Question

Scott_Broce's picture

Hello.  I have a basic nail question.  Are ring shank nails always a better choice for home framing, sheathing installation, siding installation, and fence building?  Are there situation where smooth shank nails make more sense?  I don't understand why ring shank nails have not replaced smooth shank nails.  Is it just a question of cost?



(post #87611, reply #1 of 17)

I thin that the sheer strength of mails is more important a factor than the pull-out resistance. Also, smooth shanks are typically coated with glue to give greater holding power.


I refuse to accept that there are limitations to what we can accomplish.        Pete Draganic


Take life as a test and shoot for a better score each day.          Matt Garcia

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I refuse to accept that there are limitations to what we can accomplish.        Pete Draganic


(post #87611, reply #2 of 17)

Good points. Also, every carpenter winds up pulling a certain percentage of nails. I worked with a homeowner once who insisted on 6" polebarns everywhere. Jeez they worked great until you made a mistake.

When it comes to gun nails, I have found getting ringshanks to sink to be problematic. Like Pete says, nails should work mostly in shear anyway.

(post #87611, reply #3 of 17)

I never liked the ringshanks. They seemed to tear a hole in the fibers when they were nailed in and when they get pulled, it just slips out. Sometimes, depending on the wood species, the smooth shank held better...or so it seemed.

Is anybody out there? 

(post #87611, reply #4 of 17)

I like Ardox (sort of screw-shanked (helical)), best of both worlds. But they are still hard to pull. My wife's idiot ex nailed unmitered quarter-round trim on windows (and glued it with construction adhesive) with ten penney Ardox. I had to use a cat's paw and then grab them with Vice grips and turn the VG's while prying under them with a Wonder Bar! Ended up breaking the glass on one window trying to get the molding loose from the adhesive.

(post #87611, reply #6 of 17)

I agree that ardox nails and screw shanked nails are superior. I know I've driven a lot of ardox but I can't remember why LOL. The screw shanks are easy to remember because my arm still aches from pounding those babies. We used to nail down all the subfloors with them...into frozen yellow pine sometimes! It took a real man to get them flush. I used to switch to a 22oz for that.

I always hated that day.

Is anybody out there? 

(post #87611, reply #7 of 17)

You mean you didn't pre-drill? ;-)

(post #87611, reply #17 of 17)

Myself, I hate ardox nails. Sure, they have a lot more pull-out resistance, but there's a lot less metal in them than in smooth shanks so a lot less shear strength. You can't drive the galvanized ones without knocking the galvanizing off the heads, maybe because they are spinning under the hammer head.


(post #87611, reply #5 of 17)

Ring shank definitely the wal to go for roof sheathing...Florida Building Code even requires it.  Bostich Hurri-Quake nails are a nice choice for that.


(post #87611, reply #11 of 17)

I don't have much experience with sheathing failures due to high winds, but I thought that it usually happened when the nail heads pulled through the sheets, not the nails themselves pulling out.

(post #87611, reply #12 of 17)

All the studies that have been done with some of the agencies\groups I work with show both.  If the nail is overdriven, the plywood\OSB will just pull up past the head.  But if a smooth shank 6d or even an 8d was used and a light schedule was used to fasten it...say 8" o.c. on the edge and 10"-12" o.c. in the field, the nails can come off with the sheet.

We nail everything at 4-6" o.c. now, edges and field using ring shank and usually Hurriquake.  Sure, they are $55 a box but I make sure the HO and any insurance rep sees them going in so there can be no debate later as proving what kind of nail you used is tough once the roof is in place.....unless there is that one shiner no one pulled!!!  :)

Check out the Clemson University engineering department web page as I think they still have some of their studies posted.

(post #87611, reply #13 of 17)

Thanks. Now that you mention it, the only time I have had sheathing come loose was on the corner of a gable where the nails slowly worked their way out after years of winter storms. Not hurricanes - you can keep those.

(post #87611, reply #15 of 17)


And interestingly enough that is the same area that has the highest wind exposure if you look at the diagram in the Code.

Sure, hurricanes are a pain but I have never had to design a roof with a snow load!  :)  I would have no idea what I am doing there...


(post #87611, reply #14 of 17)

Where do you live?


(post #87611, reply #16 of 17)


Tampa, Florida.


(post #87611, reply #8 of 17)

I use ring shank nails for subflooring, wall and roof sheathing.

Our local authority requires ring shank for roof sheathing (within 75 miles of coast).

I use them for wall sheathing and subflooring -- just the way I was taught, Hitachi gun cannot tell the difference driving them.

Smooth shank for framing and most other applications - easier to pull and mostly work in shear.

SS adox for cedar decking.

If I am looking for pull out resistance in some special situation - I use screws.


Never underestimate the value of a sharp pencil or good light.
Never underestimate the value of a sharp pencil or good light.

(post #87611, reply #9 of 17)

I'm with Marson. For framing the smooth nails do the job just fine and the main reason not to use ringshank is because they're a lot harder to pull (and more expensive). For subfloors though I only use ringshanks; for sheathing I would in a high wind/ earthquake zone.

(post #87611, reply #10 of 17)

smooth shanks are also ideal for cement siding...  Ring shanks blowout the cement fibers and create a less secure hold. around the nail.