How To Install Roof Shingles Like A Pro

How to Install Roof Shingles Like a Pro

By Angelina Zhuravleva  •  April 20  •  6 min
How to Install Roof Shingles Like a Pro

Put Safety First when Installing Roof Shingles

When installing shingles on your roof, safety should be your top priority. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Use roof jacks and planks to create a stable walking surface. Secure the planks, wear sturdy shoes, and avoid walking on shingles.
  • Use fall protection gear like harnesses and anchor points to avoid falling from a height. Install temporary rails or ropes around the perimeter.
  • Wear protective gear like safety glasses, dust masks, hard hats, and thick work gloves.
  • Be careful when using ladders to access the roof. Have someone spot you when climbing up and down.
  • When transporting materials to the roof, Watch out for overhead power lines. Use a fiberglass ladder and avoid raising anything higher than necessary.
  • Stay hydrated, take breaks when overheated, and apply sunscreen regularly.
  • Work carefully and avoid rushing the job. Your life is worth more than any shortcuts!

Remember to prioritize safety and take your time to complete the job without injuries.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Asphalt Shingles


Take the following steps when installing roof shingles to ensure a smooth and effective process.

1. Equipment and Materials Needed for Installing Roof Shingles

To install roof shingles, you'll need some essential gear. First up, safety equipment: work gloves, sturdy shoes, protective eyewear, and a harness if the roof is steep. You'll also want a pry bar or crowbar to remove old shingles, a hammer, utility knife, tape measure, and chalk line to mark guidelines.

2. Get Your Shingles and Supplies

Get a bundle for every 100 square feet of roofing for the new shingles. You'll also need roofing nails or staples, asphalt cement or roofing adhesive, and plastic or metal edge trim for the edges and ridges. Don't forget the drip edge and roof vents!

3. Prepare the Roof

Inspect the roof for any damage or weak spots and repair as needed. Then, install the drip edge and roofing felt over the roof's edge to direct water away from the sides and provide an extra layer of protection. Install starter shingles along the bottom edge of the roof to give the first row of shingles something to seal.

4. Underlayment

Felt paper or synthetic underlayment serves as an additional weather-resistant layer underneath the shingles. For optimal protection, an ice and water barrier along the roof edges is recommended, especially in colder climates.

Follow the instructions carefully, using the chalk lines as a guide. Begin at the bottom edge of the roof, taking off old shingles as you go and fitting the new ones in overlapping rows.

5. Install the First Row

Place your first shingle at the bottom corner of the roof, aligning the shingle's edge with the roof's edge. Secure it with roofing nails placed about 2 inches from the edge and 6 to 8 inches apart. Work your way across, overlapping shingles by about 6 inches. Use a chalk line to keep your rows straight.

6. Continue Up the Roof

For the remaining rows, start at the roof's outer edge and work toward the peak. Place each shingle over the next, overlapping the shingles below by 6 inches to maintain water resistance. Secure as you go with roofing nails. Use a pry bar to lift shingles to slide the next row underneath. Once you reach the peak, finish with ridge cap shingles.

7. Inspect and Clean Up

Do a final inspection of the entire roof to ensure all shingles are securely installed and straight. Remove any debris and nails from the ground and gutters. You now have a professional-looking asphalt shingle roof installed! With regular inspections and minor repairs as needed, an asphalt roof can last 15+ years.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Roof Shingles


Learning what mistakes to avoid is a vital part of learning how to install roof shingles. Make sure that the following steps are not part of your process!

1. Not Planning Ahead

The most crucial step is preparing and planning. Measure your roof, calculate the materials needed, and map out the installation pattern in advance. Without proper planning, you're bound to end up with extra trips to the hardware store, wasted materials, and a disorganized-looking roof.

2. Choosing the Wrong Shingles

For a professional-looking job that will last, invest in high-quality shingles rated for your area's climate conditions. Cheaper shingles may save you money upfront, but they won't withstand extreme weather as well and will need replacing sooner.

3. Improper Installation Technique

Before you start, take the time to learn the proper way to install shingles. The shingles must be evenly spaced with the correct amount of overlap to shed water and hold securely in high winds. Shingles installed crookedly or with uneven gaps will not last long and will not look professional.

4. Not Providing Proper Ventilation

Heat and moisture can build up under your new roof without adequate airflow, damaging the shingles and shortening their lifespan. Proper attic ventilation, such as ridge vents, soffit vents, and attic fans, helps prevent this and keep your attic space comfortable.

5. Skimping on Flashing

Flashing seals gaps and seams around chimneys, skylights, and other protrusions to prevent leaks. Reusing old, damaged flashing or skipping it altogether is asking for trouble. For the best protection, new, high-quality flashing should be installed around any obstructions.

Avoiding these common mistakes will ensure your new roof shingles are correctly installed and have the best chance of protecting them for years. Take your time, do it right the first time, and you'll have a roof you can feel confident in.

How to Install Roof Shingles FAQs

Here are some common FAQs about how to install roof shingles.

How do I know what shingles to buy?

There are various kinds of asphalt shingles, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This article provides an overview of different types of roof shingles and helps you decide which ones are best suited for your home. Once you choose a type, pick a color and style that complements your home. You'll also need to buy the correct number of "squares" of shingles to cover your whole roof. Read this article to help determine how many squares of roof shingles you need. 

Should I remove the old shingles first?

In most cases, yes. Removing the existing shingles allows a clean surface to install the new ones. It also allows you to inspect and repair any damage to the roof deck or flashing before adding the new shingles. Removing shingles is messy work, so wear proper protective gear. You should also consider properly utilizing the old roofing material.

How do I install the starter strip?

The starter strip goes along the edge of the roof at the bottom. It provides a straight edge to align the first course of shingles. Place the starter strip with the sealant strip facing up and exposed, and secure it with roofing nails. The shingles will overlap and adhere to this strip. Install the starter strip carefully to ensure a straight edge—it will determine how straight your shingle courses are!

How do I secure the shingles properly?

Secure each shingle with roofing nails driven through the sealant strip and into the roof deck. Place nails 6 inches apart across the top of the shingle and 1 to 2 inches from the edge of each side. Drive nails until the nail head is flat against the shingle surface. Be sure not to overdrive the nails, or you may damage the shingle. Follow the pattern of nails shown on the shingle packaging for proper placement and coverage.

With some patience and the right tools, you'll be well on your way to installing roof shingles like a pro in no time!

What Permits Do You Need to Install Roof Shingles

Obtaining local permits is a crucial step in roof replacement or installation, as most cities and counties mandate these to ensure compliance with safety and building codes. The process typically requires submitting construction plans and undergoing inspections. It's vital to consult your local building department to understand your area's specific requirements. The risks of working at heights, the need for precise installation techniques to achieve watertight seams, ensure proper ventilation, and execute correct flashing details are critical to avoid leaks, structural damage, and potential safety hazards.

Additionally, homeowners should be aware that some insurance policies might only cover professionally installed roofs, necessitating a check of policy specifics to ensure coverage in the event of roof failure or damage.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Roofer

Hiring a roofing contractor to install a shingle roof offers numerous benefits, including professional expertise for a correctly and efficiently done job, quality assurance with warranties on materials and labor, and enhanced safety measures to prevent accidents. It also saves time by completing the project swiftly and can be surprisingly cost-effective by avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring compliance with local building codes.

Moreover, a professionally installed roof can boost your property's value and curb appeal while reducing the stress and hassle of managing the project yourself. Ultimately, the investment in a professional installation pays off through peace of mind and long-term savings.

Directorii: The Best Roof Shingle Contractors Near You

At Directorii, we prioritize providing homeowners with the best possible service by connecting them with the top 1% of roofing contractors in their area. We take great care in vetting our specialists a nd only list them on our platform after conducting a thorough background check. We offer free estimates and only showcase contractors with 4.5+ star reviews. Moreover, we provide a $20,000 guarantee for every job registered on our website. Contact Directorii for more informat ion.

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