By most counts, close to 80% of the roofs in this country are covered with asphalt shingles. They’re easy to install, but there are many ways to install them incorrectly. Every bundle of shingles comes with a wrapper that has illustrated installation instructions, and this is the first place to look for specific guidance. In this episode of Training the Trades, we explain some general guidelines for installing asphalt shingles.
To learn the basics of installing asphalt roof shingles.
Familiarity and basic skills with pneumatic roofing nailers;
Ability to use basic hand tools;
Ability to build and work off of roof staging.
Basic hand tools including hammer, measuring tape, utility knife, and chalk line.
Pneumatic roofing nailer.
- Three-tab shingle: Roof shingle that consists of a single layer of asphalt where the exposed part of the shingle is broken into three parts or tabs via slots cut into the shingle.
- Architectural shingle: Roof shingle made from multiple layers of asphalt laminated together to give the shingle a more dimensional look.
- Eaves edge: Lower edge of the roof where it meets the fascia.
- Rake edge: Gable edge of the roof extending from the eaves to the peak.
- Starter course: First course of shingles installed along the drip edge at the eaves below the first exposed course of shingles. Starter-course shingles are often a regular shingle with the exposed portion removed.
- Underlayment: Asphalt-impregnated felt paper or peel-and-stick membrane applied over the sheathing before the shingles go on.
- Drip edge: Metal edging attached along the eaves edge and rake edges to help weather seal the shingles.
- Roofing cement: Thick material that is used as an adhesive and to seal between layers of shingles.
Asphalt shingles come in two basic configurations: three-tab and architectural (or “laminated”) shingles. Three-tab shingles are made from one flat layer of asphalt with slits (called “cutouts”) that create three tabs on the exposed portion of the shingle. Architectural shingles are made from multiple layers of asphalt laminated together to give them a more dimensional look. Installation for the two shingle styles is similar, but always review the manufacturer’s instructions on the shingle wrapper in case its recommendations vary from the standard procedure outlined here.
Both shingle styles have an asphalt sealing strip, and nails should always be kept below this strip for the shingles to seal properly. The allowable nailing area is a fairly narrow band between the top of the tabs and the sealing strip. Place nails as shown in the illustrations. Drive nails above each cutout as well as 1 inch in from the ends. In high-wind areas, extra nailing is required; refer to the JLC Field Guide.