6 Tips for a Successful Shingle Install


Many homeowners opt out and decide that they’ll conquer their own roof and shingle it themselves. While this process can really save you some big bucks (think half of the cost of hiring a professional), it’s not a job that’s for the DIY faint of heart. Deadly work environment, extreme heat and lack of essential DIY skills are all important factors to consider when performing a DIY asphalt shingle install. If you’re brave enough, agile enough and tough enough, use the following six tips and get the most out of your DIY asphalt shingle project.

Drip Edge Cuts

Installing drip edge might just appear fairly easy-just bend it around the corners and nail it-but it’s a little more complicated than that. You need to snip the angled corners of the bend while leaving just the right amount of metal left on the top piece. It’s a wise idea to test cut a few corners on a scrap piece of drip edge before you make the final install to get the feel for making this complicated cut.

Drip Edge Laps

Lapping the drip edge the appropriate distance is also important for success. Minimum laps of four inches should be maintained around the perimeter. Be sure to fasten a nail into the overlapping seams as well. Nail off each piece of drip edge in the center of the drip edge every four inches on center to prevent the “oil can effect”. This is where pieces buckle and bend from not being installed tightly.

Bull the Edge

Many roofers skip this step and it’s a crime: always be sure to use a roofing tar or “bull” as it’s known in the field to seal the gap between the drip edge and the roofline. You need to seal the drip edge seam where it meets the roof with a good 4-6 inch wide smear of roofing tar before installing the starter shingles.


Today’s modern dimensional shingles are easy to install and don’t require much of a layout. On a gable end roof, you really only need to place down the starter row and snap a few horizontal lines for accuracy every 3-6 rows of shingles. For hip and valley roofing systems, you need to snap a 3-4-5 square caulk line up the length of the roof. Simply make a point on the base of the roofline, measure over three feet horizontally, then measure up four feet vertically. Make the two points meet accurately by measuring diagonally between the two points five feet. Snap a line from the roof line up to the interesting points for a perfectly straight line to start your shingles from.

Nailing Pattern

You don’t want your shingles to blow off the roof so fastening them with the correct “six nail” nailing pattern is important. Two nails on each end and two clusters of nails one quarter of the way towards the center of the shingle is the perfect nailing pattern for all complete shingles.

Shingle Seam Pattern

Always, always, always follow the shingle seam pattern on the inside of the packaging to void the warranty and future roof leaks. Typically, these stagger about every 4-7 inches followed by a centered piece. This ensures the seams of the shingles never line up so water can flow in behind them. It also keeps nails from being exposed between seams.


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