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A COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING - SHINGLE ROOFING INSTALLATION                                                                                 

10 Most common mistakes we've seen.                              ALT="help gif">

1.Leaving out the starter strip.

2. Not keeping shingles aligned.

3. Not overhanging shingles at eaves.

4. Improper nailing of shingles.

5. Reusing old flashings around chimneys and soil stacks.

6. The use of tar................NO!

7. Neglecting to keep hip and ridge shingles in a straight line.

8. Using only 3 nails or speed nailing, it only takes a second to install a fourth.

9. No Ice and water shield ( valley eave sensitive and low slop area ) or no felt on the deck.

10. Shingle installation on a low pitched roof, without ice and water shield or proper exposure.


How we install your new shingle roof. 

Use this to monitor your project. Or if you are unable to afford a contractor, this information should help you understand the basic principles of a shingle roofing installation.

< Before starting, please review our roofing terminology page click here >

First The Key factors: "Safety first"

Roofing is real construction and can be dangerous work. I've heard more then once "it would have been cheaper to have a professional do the work". Getting hurt, loss time at work, the medical bills.....

1. When ever you go up on your roof, tie off your ladder, if it blew over itís a long jump down.

2. If you cant walk on it safely, or if you don't feel comfortable you should carefully go back down. We set up roof jacks and walk boards. If you don't have them you can rent roof jacks at your local rental store.

3. Power wires, I canít say enough about them. When near them be careful, power can jump many feet. Never set a ladder up next to power wires. When moving a ladder pay attention and stay clear of all wires.

Lets get started

Eave edges and Valleys  We first lay down a full roll of Ice and Water shield. At this time measuring your soffit or underside of the over hang, we need to insure our Ice and water shield is two feet higher then the inner wall. If not you will need another roll or maybe even a half roll installed. SPECIAL NOTE: We install the Ice and water shield at the bottom eave edge so that it hangs over the the plywood edge 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, so that it's under the drip edge sealing the gap between your fascia and plywood. This will help prevent ice backing up under your drip edge and into the top of your fascia board. In the valleys we also place ice and water shield. (winter conditions)

Felt  On remaining decking, apply one layer of felt. I prefer 30 pound felt, but 15 pound can be used (warm climates don't require ice and water shield on the bottom edge, felt is acceptable ).  Over lapping 3" inches nailing the top and bottom lap ever 18" inches, run a center row nailing 18 inches offset or in between the others "W" pattern. This is three rows of nails, in high wind areas use 4 rows of nails. 

Drip edge Install on all edges, starting at the eve edge, working up the rake edges. overlap the drip edge two to three inches. Drip edge goes on after the ice and water and after the felt is installed (high winds the drip edge will keep the felt in place)

Shingle installation

Starter course of shingles, taking a 3 tab shingle cut off the (3) tabs. Install this shingle hanging over the drip edge a half inch. Install like a  shingle, you will notice the tar strip is at the lower edge and this will help prevent blow off. Cut 6" inches off the first starter shingle, so that when you apply your first real shingle the ends don't line up. Leave a small space about 1/16 inch between each shingle. Nail each starter shingle with four galvanized roofing nails, nailing high.

The first full size course of shingles is installed directly on top of the starter course with the tabs facing down towards the eaves. At this time STOP and read the shingle wrapper, for easy installation and how to stagger the shingles, including the nailing pattern. Don't bother removing the plastic strips between shingles.

Lay your first shingle over hanging the drip edge a 1/2 inch. If your right handed, try working from the left edge first, heading to the right. To prevent the shingles from buckling, begin nailing each shingle from the end next to the previously laid shingle, nailing across the shingle. Leave a slight gap between shingles, butt them but not to tight (don't apply force). We recommend snapping vertical chalk lines, off the drip edge and on the roofing felt at 231/2 291/2 and 351/2 inches. Horizontal chalk lines at 111/2 161/2  211/2 261/2 311/2 361/2 notice its ever 5" inches. This will enable you to align the top edge of each shingle along a straight line. This is for a 3 tab shingle roof installation.

The joints between the tabs must continue to be staggered. This means the joints must not be in alignment up the roof, but every other shingle row the cut outs or rain slots will line up perfectly.

Nailing, 4 nails per shingle, steep pitched roofs and high wind areas use 6 nails per shingle.

Valleys you will need to determine which area has the steepest pitch, or may carry the highest impact of water. We will then keep that in mind as we will be cutting off that side of our valley. We will then lay the other side of the valleys roof area first, installing the shingle right into and though the valley on the average two to three tabs "Do not place nails in the valley pocket/area, we will keep the nails out at least 6" from valleys pocket area. Sometimes you will need to cut and place a tab or two in first before you lay into the valley as some shingle fall short into the middle of the valley. Don't cut just leave them staggered. Now bring the steepest roof area up to and through the valley, in the center chalk a line and cut only this side off.  

Once the body of the roof has been shingled, you will then apply the hip shingles, if you have a hip roof, which will be overlapped by the ridge shingles. Gable roofs will only have ridge shingles, install starting at the East or South edge. These can be purchased prefabricated or can be cut from standard shingles - one 12 inch tab from a standard shingle, one standard shingle make three ridge shingles. I like to trim the corners off the hidden edges of the shingle leaving a clean appearance once installed. 

Lay one hip cap at one end of the ridge and another at the other end and snap a chalk line across one side. This will be guidelines for the ridge shingles.

Start at the eaves of a hip roof, with a double layer of shingles trim neatly at center point and work your way up to the ridge using the standard 5 inch exposure. Nail one nail on each side in the tar strip of each shingle. Where the hip intersects at the ridge, cut 4 inches up the center of a tab and nail this so that the uncut portion is nailed to the ridge and the 4 inch slit overlaps and is nailed to the top of the hip, covering the last of the hip shingles. Keep your nails back in about an inch and a half from the outer edge.

Begin applying the ridge shingles starting at one of the ends, working in one direction, commonly we start at the end that places us installing the ridge shingles towards the highest wind direction. When we get to the end, we will end up with two exposed nails, should be the only nails exposed when were all done roofing.

Plumbing vent boots will need to be replaced with new rubber ones. 

All step flashing should be replaced, if not aluminum.

Chimney counter flashing we always cut in a new aluminum flashing as tar will not hold up forever.

We never use tar on a new roof as tar will harden and eventually crack, we restore roofs to new.

Low pitched roofs 3/12 and 2/12, require ice and water shield on complete roof deck area.

Flat roofs less then 2/12 may not be shingled, as shingles are designed to shed water and not hold it. 

This is a hard topic to write about and explain, I hope it helps. You may use this information to oversee your next roofing project or if you do-it yourself. 

If I didn't cover your question please ask.  r1vanbeck@aol.com

Please find this example as only a help guide, every circumstance is different. As to why I am teaching my competition and home owners the basic understanding of roofing. I feel sharing my years of experience and knowledge gives meaning to my life, and you the home owner can see that we know what were doing. Many people, not only from Michigan come to visit this site for a basic understanding of roofing and for help. Possibly for the do-it yourselfer, or they wish to oversee a job well done. 

For the contractor or roofer reading this, you may find that I may have missed a detail on a specific item, let me know. I hope you find this helpful and your welcome to use this for or against me, but please direct them to this site so they may evaluate for themselves, my intentions. Thank you.

If I can help any more or less, please feel free to contact me.

Richard Van Beck     

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Send mail to: R1vanbeck@aol.com with your questions or comments.
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Last modified: April 30, 2015