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How to install roof shingles

The roof of a building is one of the most critical elements of the overall structure. If a roof is damaged, it can compromise the integrity of the home or building. Therefore, one of the most necessary replacements or repairs in the construction industry is roofs.

The average roof lasts approximately 20 to 25 years. If a roof is nearing the end of its life span, it may be time to research and plan a project on how to shingle a roof. Let’s dive into the step-by-step process of how to shingle a roof with ease.

Roofer carrying roof shingles

Choose your roof material

When replacing your roof and roof shingles, you need to decide what type of roof materials to use. Your roof materials determine how to shingle a roof effectively. Depending on your geographic area, the roof shingle materials differ. For example, many warmer weather areas use clay or tile roof shingles versus the traditional and most common asphalt composition shingles. The roof material you choose also dictates the price of the materials and the overall cost of the roof. 

Determine overlay or tear-off

There are two methods you can choose from for roof installation and how to shingle a roof: roof overlay or tear-off. The overlay method, which consists of installing new shingles on top of old ones, is the most cost-effective and time-saving option. However, it’s not the same as tearing off the old shingles and installing a new roof.

In determining if an overlay is the better option, some facts to consider are the existing life span of the roof, weight, value, and condition underneath the existing roof. Most experts recommend a total replacement versus an overlay. Tearing off the previous roof, while more costly, can ultimately ensure your roof lasts longer.

Budget and purchase materials for installation

A multitude of external factors influences the cost of building a roof. The roofing material determines the actual cost of constructing a new roof, the roofing contractor you choose, the roof’s steepness (or pitch), and the overall square footage of the roof. You also must consider the cost of building permits, disposal, demolition, and cleaning of the project.

It’s important to note that the primary roofing season in the U.S. spans from late spring to early October. Therefore, the weather is a significant contributor to the timeframe of your roofing project.

Installation process

The installation process for how to shingle a roof differs depending on whether you’re laying an overlay or tearing off and laying an entirely new roof. If you choose the overlay process, note that you’re just buying a limited amount of time before a complete tear-off becomes necessary. Below is the typical step-by-step process to lay a new roof.

New roof installation

  1. Remove all the old shingles and dispose of them properly. You must also remove the valley flashing and drip edge, which are the components of your roof that direct water to the gutters.
  2. Repair any roof damage that’s occurred. If significant repairs to the roof decking are necessary, lay new plywood sheathing or sheathing boards to repair damaged roof areas.
  3. Protect the roof deck with an underlayment, such as an ice guard membrane, which is a synthetic and waterproof barrier that prevents melting ice and snow from collecting under your shingles. You may also use asphalt roofing paper for water resistance. 
  4. Over the roofing paper, install new valley flashing over joints and drip edge around the edges.
  5. Install ridge vents for air circulation at the top of your roof or use gable vents to help your attic have proper airflow while reducing heated air accumulation and eliminating ice buildup in the winter. 
  6. Install shingles starting at the eaves and working your way up to the peak. Install flashing around any potential leaks (skylights, chimneys, and vents.)
  7. Clean your roof while establishing a waterproof seal by applying roofing glue over exposed nails. This process preserves the pins and ensures they have more resilience in harsh weather conditions. Remove any residual debris and allow your new roof to dry.
Using a nail gun to install a new roof

Final thoughts on how to install roof shingles

The roof of a home or business is imperative to the structural integrity of that building. There are many factors to consider when determining how to shingle a roof, but installing a new roof doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You have several options for materials and different methods of installation to choose from. Whatever you decide, you’re making the choice to protect your home and you’re adding to its appeal for years to come.

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