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Nails for Barns and Storage Buildings

Use this nail guide to help you select the best nails for your pole barn, storage building or shed project. The right nails for your construction project will help reduce maintenance requirements and enhance the appearance of your structure.

Modern wire nails were introduced to construction in late 1800 and quickly became available in many types and sizes. New construction barns and storage buildings typically use about four nail types: common nails , box nails, roofing nails and pole barn nails. These are available in different lengths and types.

Common nails are a general purpose, thick, heavy-duty nail routinely used in framing. Use this type of nail when framing your floor.
Box nails are a lighter weight; thinner version of the common nail and is used to help reduce splitting. It is a great nail to use for the wall and roof framing of barns.
Roofing nails have a large head and are used to secure common roofing shingles. The roofing nail is typically " to 2" in length and is galvanized to reduce corrosion.
Pole barn nails available in the 30d to 60d size is a special nail that is a smaller diameter than the common nail of the same size and it is also a ringed nail. Ringed nails have many serrated ridges around the diameter of the nail to increase their holding strength. Use pole barn nails when fastening wall framing lumber to pole barn poles.

Nails most commonly used in construction are sized by length using the term "penny", which is abbreviated "d". Sizes range from 2d to 60d in " increments from 2d through 16d and in " increments from 16d up to 60d. The table below can be useful when determining the best size nail to use for a particular situation. As a very general rule of thumb the length of the nail should be about 3 times the thickness of the material you are attaching.

Getting down to specifics let's talk about the typical nail sizes and types used in the barn building business. Starting from the bottom up:
Floor faming is done using 16d common nails. This gives you great strength. Your floor that is, not you personally!
Plywood flooring is secured with a 6d or 8d nail. For the best job use 6d or 8d ring nails to help minimize the nails working loose as the floor flexes during use.
Walls and roof are framed using 12d or 16d box nails that are 3" and 3-1/2" in length.
Siding and trim nails should be galvanized to reduce corrosion and "bleeding" that will show through paint.   A 5d or 6d is a commonly used size.
Roofing shingles can be secured with 1-1/2 to 1-3/4" nails, a size I prefer to help reduce finger damage that you sometimes get using shorter nails!

There you have it in a nutshell!

As a final tip be sure to use a good quality hammer, it will definitely make your job easier. A 20 or 24 oz rip claw hammer is best and will save a lot of wear and tear on your body. The 16 oz curved claw hammer commonly found around the house is not recommended when you have a lot of framing nails to drive!

For professional tools and to make your job easier check out  easiplans.com.   You will also find a good assortment of detailed and inexpensive barn plans and tools.
Nail size Length (inches) Nails
2d 1
3d 1.25
4d 1.5
5d 1.75
6d 2
7d 2.25
8d 2.5
9d 2.75
10d 3
12d 3.25
16d 3.5
20d 4
30d 4.5
40d 5
50d 5.5
60d 6

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