How Do You Install Roof Shingles?

Install roof shingles, particularly three tab shingles, step-by-step:

STEP 1: First you need to decide how you will finish the eaves. Many times people add a 1x2 strip near the top of the sub-fascia to add a little character to the fascia. This is a very good idea if you are using vinyl siding and PVC metal fascia (because the additional bend strengthens the fascia), which is how I will explain it here.

I add the 1x2 on the front and back fascia, but leave it off of the gable ends, as they are usually 2x4s, not 2x6.

Start on the back of the house to install roof shingles. This will give you an opportunity to learn and have your imperfections not readily seen.

STEP 2: Measure up from the downhill edge of the sub-fascia (or drip edge if you use it) and make a mark at 10 1/2”.

STEP 3: Do this on each end and pop a line between the points.

STEP 4: Measure in from the side edge of the barge rafter at the bottom and top of the roof and make marks at 10 1/2”.

STEP 5: Pull a large 3, 4, 5 triangle and check square between the two lines. (large meaning something like 12 feet by 16 feet, checking for a 20 foot diagonal) (SEE SETTING SQUARE)This is really important when you install roof shingles.

STEP 6: If you need to adjust the square, move the top end of the line running along the barge rafter.

STEP 7: After you have the side line square, measure in from the side line and make a mark at 18”and 24”.

STEP 8: Do this at the top and bottom and pop lines between the 18” and 24” points.

STEP 9: Measure up from the line across the roof and make marks every 10 inches. Do this on both sides and pop lines between all the points.

STEP 10: For the first run of shingle, lay the shingle face up, with the slots to the inside, not the outside. Just butt the shingles together, side to side, keeping the inner edge along the chalk lines. It's simple to install roof shingles!

STEP 11: Use 1” roof tacks and place four nails in each shingle, just above the sticky line at half way.

STEP 12: Run the starter shingle up the side the same way, butting it into the top of the bottom shingle.

STEP 13: Lay the first shingle at the lower corner, on top of the starter shingle. Flush the inside edge to the chalk line at 18” and the top edge to the chalk line across the lower part of the porch. Verify that the end of the shingle overlaps the end of the starter shingle. THEY MUST NOT END TOGETHER. The shingle will hang over the side edge about 7 ½ inches.

STEP 14: Nail this shingle four times, once each in line with the slots, above the sticky strip. (The sticky strip is to adhere the layers of shingles together.) The fourth nail goes on the inside end, where you have a half of a slot.

STEP 15: To install the roof shingles, place a shingle beside the first one, using the chalk line above it to line it up.

STEP 16: Nail it in place.

STEP 17: Continue across the house to the other end. The shingles must hang off the other end at least 1 ½ inches.

STEP 18: Return to the first side and start the second run. Place the first shingle inside end on the 24” line, and the top on the next line across.

STEP 19: Verify that the slots and the shingle ends are off set.

STEP 20: Continue across the house, and/or up the roof, which ever method suits you when you install roof shingles. Most folks find it easiest to run two shingles wide up the roof. Continue laying runs of shingles, alternating between the 18”and 24”lines to keep the slots off-setting.

STEP 21: When you finish the back side up to the ridge, before you leave the back, pop a line on top of the shingles at the edges of the roof. This line should match the starter shingle underneath the regular shingles. You will cut all the excess shingles off to this line. Use a hook blade for this cut, which allows you to cut shingles from the top.

STEP 22: When you finish the back side, move over to the front. Start from either end and layout the entire surface as discussed before.

As you near the side of a dormer, you must install flashing. This flashing is called “4 inch side wall flashing”.

STEP 23: Place the flashing against the wall, allowing it to stick out past the corner a few inches, on top of a shingle.

Word to the Wise: It is important that the flashing run out on top of the shingles in the correct place. The last shingle under the flashing must be placed to shed the water flow properly. When you start laying shingles into the flashing, cut the shingle off about a half inch shy of the wall. To cut shingles, turn the shingle over and score it with a razor knife. Fold along the score and tear it off. Remember to cut the correct end when you turn it over! Cutting the wrong end will mess up the slot placement and cause the roof to leak. Don't do this when you install roof shingles.

STEP 24: Nail the flashing to the wall, high up on the top edge.

STEP 25: Where the dormer roof meets the house roof, you may install a metal valley or weave the shingles. It is a lot easier to install a valley, and I think it looks better, as well.

STEP 26: Place the valley flashing so that it centers between the house roof and the dormer. The tail end needs to hang over the end a few inches.

STEP 27: Nail the valley by driving roof nail OUTSIDE the flashing, immediately against the flashing edge, so that the head of the nail will hold the flashing down, but the shank of the nail does not go thru the metal. Space these nails every 6 or 8 inches.

STEP 28: Overlap the valley metal at the top of the dormer ridge to prevent any water ingress.

STEP 29: Lay the dormer shingles and the main roof shingles into the flashing and a little beyond, from each direction.

STEP 30: Pop a chalk line down the valley on top of the shingles, about two inches off the center crimp on each side.

STEP 31: Use a hook blade and cut the shingles in the valley along the chalk lines.

STEP 32: Cut the overhanging shingles off on the dormer faces when you install roof shingles.

STEP 33: Bring the shingle-over ridge vents up and cut out the felt that covers the center opening.

STEP 34: Cut shingles in half cross ways and nail the full sides in place, with the factory edge down. This is to give you a solid shingle surface to insure the water flows properly.

STEP 35: Measure the width of the vent piece as it sits when it is installed and make a mark on each end of the roof.

STEP 36: Pop a line along this point.

STEP 37: Install ridge shingles from the end across the barge rafter. Ridge shingles are cut from regular shingles by turning the shingle over and scoring the shingle.

STEP 38: Cut the final ridge shingle in half and nail in place. You are getting closer to finishing how to install roof shingles.

STEP 39: Nail the ridge vent pieces in place, using the chalk line to keep them straight. The vents should start on top of the ridge shingle. Place some roofing bull under the end of the ridge vent on top of the ridge shingle.

STEP 40: Run the ridge vents all the way across and end just like you started. Cut the ridge vent to length to keep the total installation symmetrical.

STEP 41: Cut a pile of ridge shingles and nail them on the ridge vent when you install roof shingles.

STEP 42: When you reach the end, nail a few ridge shingles coming from the other end, and overlap them.

STEP 43: Cut a ridge shingle in half and cap the two runs, placing roofing bull under the shingle and on top of the final nails.

STEP 44: Cut the over-hanging shingles off as discussed before.

Now you'll be able to install roof shingles successfully.

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