Dear Angie: I recently realized that the nails my contractor used to reshingle my roof/shed are protruding through the soffit areas on my shed. These nails protrude about a half-inch and can be seen easily. 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 1½ -inch nails on all projects."
He said code standards are "that the nails protrude through the surface." This would be fine if the nails were inside a roof but not if they are 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 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 inches, even if that surface is less than ¾ inches thick.
(Kentucky's residential building code has similar stipulations.)
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So, based on the code, nails are indeed supposed to extend through the decking, unless the decking is thicker than ¾ inches. 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 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 concerns to your satisfaction. I recommend you speak directly with a supervisor at the company, explain your position and ask for options. If you still don't get the response you want, consider seeking help from the Angie's List complaint resolution service, which works as a mediator with Angie's List members who have submitted a negative report on a service company.