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How to Shingle a Roof?

Choosing the right shingle type depends on how well your roof handles moisture and weather conditions and what kind of look you want to achieve. Drive around your neighborhood and look at homes similar to yours to see what kinds of looks are popular in your area.

Before you start installing shingles, perform a thorough inspection of your roof deck and fix any damage you find. Also, remove and replace any rusty step flashing that may be present. Read this first!

Start with a Starter Shingle

Unlike the function it performs at the eaves, a starter shingle on gables does not improve your roof’s wind resistance. Instead, it simply provides your installer with a straight line to use as a guide when ending each course of shingles.

Install the starter shingle so that it overlaps both the eave and rake drip edges by 1/4″. Ensure the back of the starter shingle is flush with your chalk line.

Lay Felt Paper

Felt paper is the underlayment that goes on your roof before you start laying shingles. It helps to protect your roof and keep water from getting underneath the shingles when it rains.

Begin laying the felt paper at one of the bottom corners and work your way up the roof. Make sure to overlap each row by at least a few inches.

Nail the Starter Shingle

A traditional starter course consisted of full-sized shingles turned upside down. That method, however, placed the shingle’s self-seal strip too high.

Install a special starter strip with a 1/2-inch overhang past the eave or roof edge. Overlap the strips at lower corners along rake drip edges and snap chalk lines to guide future shingle courses. Make sure the strip is well-nailed.

Nail the First Course of Shingles

Install a starter course (half-sized shingles) along the eaves and overrake drip edges. The top edge of the first shingle should be aligned with the 7-in. control line and nailed down with four nails per shingle, as recommended by package instructions.

This is an important step because it prevents shingle exposure problems, which can compromise aesthetics, roof leaks, and wind resistance.

Nail the Second Course of Shingles

Installing shingles on a roof is a complicated job best left to professional roofing contractors. But homeowners with previous experience can do the job themselves.

When shingling the second course, snap horizontal chalk lines to help you keep the courses straight. Remember, each new shingle should butt up against the bottom of the tab slots of shingles above it. This is called butting and it helps with wind resistance.

Nail the Third Course of Shingles

Nailing the shingles properly is very important. Consult your roof shingle manufacturer and local code to determine the correct nailing pattern for your area.

Dubbing or clipping the corners of a shingle keeps water from flowing downhill along a cut edge and into the roof. It is also a good idea for the safety of workers on the roof.

Nail the Fourth Course of Shingles

The next course of shingles should cover the nails of the previous course. If not, the next shingle will leak into a nail hole or it will expose the nails to corrosion.

Always follow shingle manufacturer instructions for positioning and driving roofing nails. Improperly positioned and driven nails are a common source of roof leaks. Also, improper nailing can void a shingle warranty.

Nail the Fifth Course of Shingles

This course consists of full shingles that have been trimmed six inches from their lower edges. Nail them along layout lines, making sure to nail over the half slots (and their adjacent shingle).

It’s best to do roofing work on temperate days rather than in scorching summer heat or frigid winter cold. Also, try to avoid working on a roof during rain.

Nail the Sixth Course of Shingles

A shoddy roof installation can lead to leaks. For example, if water penetrates the felt paper, it can flow into the shingle joint and void the warranty. Incorrect nailing patterns can also cause leaks. Nails driven too high cut into shingles and reduce wind resistance while nails driven too low don’t get sufficient compression between the nail head and shingle.

Make sure nails are nailed just below the self-sealing strip on the bottom of each shingle. Cover exposed nail heads with dabs of roofing cement.

Nail the Seventh Course of Shingles

Working on roofs is dangerous and should only be done by professional roofers. This work is complex and requires skills that not all homeowners have.

Each shingle course should overlap the course below it. This is important because when water enters one shingle it can flow into the other and cause leaks. The overlapping prevents this from happening. Snap horizontal chalk lines to help keep your shingle courses straight. Read on to find out!