How To Install Roof Shingles

Since many home owners like you are looking for information about how to install roof shingles, this article will help guide you along the right lines and provide you with some helpful information to monitor a roof contractor or even understand the basics of what is involved. Please understand that while this will give you some information on how to install roof shingles, it is not intended or meant to be an instruction manual or personal guide. You are well-advised to follow safety guidelines, and gather more information about the pros and cons of installing roof shingles, rather than using this as a guide to your own do-it-yourself roof shingles project.

Asphalt roof shingles can enhance the appearance and protection of any roof. However asphalt roof shingles have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. After that time the shingles undergo wear and tear, and crack, wrinkle or peel off. This leads to leaks and other damage, and indicates that the roof may need to be repaired or replaced.

That’s when this outline of how to install roof shingles will come in handy. Here are the steps involved in the project.

  • Remove the worn out shingles
  • Install new membrane and flashing
  • Lay the first line of shingles
  • Overlap it with the next row of shingles
  • Adapt the shingles to projections like vents, chimneys and others
  • Roof the ridge
  • Put finishing touches on your new roof

These steps may seem easy and intuitive, but in reality they require a certain degree of effort, experience and skill, so this may not be an ideal project for anyone to try out without first acquiring these skills and equipping oneself with the right tools.

Take Away Old Roof Shingles

When the work begins to install roof shingles, it is important to first remove the older worn out shingles and nails. A roofer’s shovel that has teeth and a bent handle is an ideal tool for this purpose. Beneath the shingles is the old panel into which the shingles were nailed. If these plywood panels are at least half an inch thick and firmly fixed on to the roof framing, nothing else needs to be done. Otherwise it may be a good idea to firmly nail down loose parts, and seal off any gaps with sealant or glue.

Membrane and Flashing

While one installs roof shingles it is important to keep in mind that ice dams and leaks can be a problem unless you guard against them by using a metal drip cap along the perimeter of the roof. After this a layer of membrane or felt is laid along the perimeter for protection against leaks. Some roofing contractors prefer to doubly secure the roof with a layer of felt paper in addition.

At this time it is best to add the chimney and vent flashing. The sheets of membrane are suitably cut to permit adequate cover and insertion of the flashing. Using adhesive strips the membrane is securely fixed in the valleys between rows of shingles. On top of this the flashing for valleys is installed.

Lay The First Row of Shingles

To guide with proper alignment when they install roof shingles, some contractors will draw a reference line before they begin laying shingles, starting from the bottom of the roof. The line begins around 10 inches from the edge of the roof. The first row of shingles will overlap the eaves.

When novices ask how to install roof shingles, they’re really asking where one begins the first row of shingles. Well, from the bottom. And “feet up” – which means the notched ends point upwards from the roof edge. The shingles are placed along the reference line drawn earlier, and nailed into place with suitably sized nails, usually 4 per shingle. The nails must be driven in firmly, straight and until they are flush with the surface, taking care not to damage the under-layment too badly.

The Second Row of Shingles

Install roof shingles row after row above this first layer by starting where the first row did before, but staggering joints. Shingles with tabs usually show visual indication of where the overlap must be. The shingles are nailed down firmly after verifying that they are properly placed and aligned. For additional security, the roof shingles are folded over the peak and nailed on the other side. It’s important to make sure the rood edge is overlapped slightly to prevent ice dams.

Adapt To Chimneys and Vents

Experienced roof contractors who install roof shingles will adapt the shape of shingles to fit into valleys securely. This is done by beveling the top corners and then sealing the gaps with cement. Nails are driven six inches away from the valley to hold the shingles in place.

The membrane installed in an earlier step is folded and laid around the sides of the chimney and any vents to provide an edge around it. Flashing is laid over this folded membrane, and the joints sealed watertight with plastic cement. Shingles are then laid in a line around this projection and fixed in place with nails. For smaller vents, it is appropriate to cut a hole of the right size in the shingle and place it around the projection.

Roof the Ridge

How to install roof shingles around the ridge? This can be tricky, especially if you aren’t very expert. The time to prepare is before actually reaching the ridge. At 6 inches from the peak, the next row of roof shingles is folded over the ridge and nailed into place on the opposite side. When repeated from the other side, there will be two shingles overlapping each other at the ridge.

Then the ridge is finished by cutting a shingle into 3 pieces, folding the cut shingle over the ridge, and nailing it into place on both sides of the ridge. This provides a secure cover over the ridge and prevents leaks, while presenting an appealing appearance to your roof.

Finishing Up

Once the nailing and fixing is all done, the aesthetics of the new shingle roof are enhanced by trimming off excess pieces after carefully measuring them out with a ruler and marking the bits with chalk.

In areas where there are heavy winds and extreme weather conditions, extra protection to the shingle roof by way of gluing down the edges and near the top can be useful. Plastic cement does well for this use.

So there it is in a nutshell. The essential outline of how to install roof shingles is apparently simple and straightforward. The devil is in the details. You may need permits from your local regulatory body. You may face hurdles in the disposal of waste from removing your old roof. You may need to comply with safety regulations. There are many more details.

Ask for advice from experts and try to get people who know what they’re doing to help you out if you plan to install roof shingles yourself. Otherwise, get a professional roofing contractor to help install your asphalt roof shingles. This will ensure that your roof is secure, well laid and affords adequate protection for a long time.

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