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Asphalt Shingle Installation Tips

Asphalt Shingle Installation Tips

So, you want to install your own asphalt shingle roof? It isn't that hard, it just takes some planning. You need to think before you work. The first thing you must do is obtain the two publications I mention below. These will help supplement the information on the shingle packs and what I am about to tell you.

New Roofs vs. Old Roofs

The application of many asphalt shingles is the same for an old roof or a new roof. The main difference is that on a re-roof, you need to pay attention to how you start the shingles at the lower edge of the roof. If you copy the exact pattern as the first roof, the new roof may develop waves. Watch for this in the instructions!

Felt Paper and Drip Edges

Do you need to use felt paper? On new roofs the answer is yes. Re-roof jobs do not require it. I prefer to apply the felt as I go if at all possible. If you do the entire roof and the felt gets wet or dew covered, it will wrinkle. These wrinkles can telegraph through thin standard 3 tab shingles! Not only that, if the weather is hot and you walk up a felt covered roof, the felt can and will tear. You will be on the ground before you know what happened. If you apply felt as you go, you can just use a minimum amount of nails. Within minutes hundreds of nails from the shingles will pierce it.

Drip edges are corrosion resistant metal strips that protect the exposed ends of the roof deck at the bottom and sides of the roof. Drip edges go on the bottom of the roof before felt paper is applied. However, they are applied on top of the felt on the side edges of the roof. If you install a roof membrane, it must be installed before any of the drip edge. The membrane actually should lap over onto the gutter board!

Starter Strips - Almost Always Done Wrong!

You do need a row of shingles beneath the first regular row. Why? Because of the knockouts. Those thin lines in shingles are voids. You can see to the shingle below. Well, on the first row, there is no shingle. Well, there is going to be. You have to take a regular shingle and cut off the first 5 inches. This leaves you with the top 7 inches. Don't take a regular shingle and just turn it upside down. This is wrong! I like to allow the shingles to overhang the edge of the drip edge by 1 inch. Do NOT apply the shingles flush! Water, by capillary attraction, will pull its way up the shingle.

Keeping Them Straight

If you use regular 3 tab shingles, the vertical lines are the ones you see from the ground. These are the ones you should concentrate on. I feel the roof looks best if you let it overhang 1 inch on the sides. This means that you need to start your fist shingle 35 inches in from the edge. Shingles usually measure 36 inches wide. Standard 3 tab shingles also step over every 6 inches as you go up the roof. Without this step over, the knockouts of the shingle on the next row would be directly over where you just nailed! Talk about leaks.......

Standard shingles usually have 5 inches of shingles exposed to the weather. A shingle is 12 inches wide. This means that 7 inches is covered by the next row of shingles. The horizontal lines must be chalked as well. But, don't chalk the bottom line of a shingle row. Chalk the top. This way the chalk will be covered. I like to check my alignment of the shingles with the top ridge of the roof every 5 feet or so as you progress up the roof. You want the shingles to be parallel with the ridge. You may have to adjust as you go to keep them parallel.

Flashings, Valleys, and Such

This is where the men are separated from the boys. All those fancy TV shows show you how easy it is to put shingles on. Big deal! The place where roofs leak first 95 percent of the time is at a flashing! Flashings are transition points between something that is a roofing material and something that isn't. For example, a chimney interrupts a roof. The shingles must abut the chimney and interlock with a flashing to prevent water penetration. Tough to do? Yes, but if you obtain a good book (there are few out there - I've looked!) you may be able to figure it out. Flashings must be made from corrosion resistant metal that can be soldered! No aluminum PLEASE!

Don't rely on caulk on a roof either. Caulk is just not a really good roofing material, trust me. Metal flashings laced into shingles have withstood the test of time on many roofs. Do your homework, install them right and you will have a leak-free roof for years.

Roofing Literature

Would you like to obtain excellent pamphlets, booklets and other literature on asphalt roofing? If so, you need to contact:

Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association
Public Information Department
1156 - 15th Street, NW., Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-207-0917
Fax: 202-223-9741
Web: www.asphaltroofing.org

Two of their many publications are outstanding. Do whatever is necessary to obtain a copy of the following two publications. Call, write or visit their website to find out pricing information for:

Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual
and
Good Application Makes A Good Roof Better.

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