How to shingle a roof

This is a quick guide on how to install roof shingles. It also teaches how to install a metal roof. You will want to consider the elements when buying roofing material.

In areas where there is a lot of snow and ice, you probably should have a metal roof.

If you don’t get a lot of severe weather then you can get by with asphalt shingles. You’ll need to start out with roofing felt and flashing.

Then you can either apply asphalt shingles or fork out extra and install metal roofing.

Shingles are much cheaper than metal. Metal is definitely more durable and will last a long time.

To start out, you will need to get a few rolls of tar paper and roll it out starting at the bottom of the roof and working your way across the length of the roof.

roofing felt

Some people call it roofing felt, but I like to call it tar paper.One of the most important parts of learning how to shingle a roof is keeping the tar paper in place.

The tar paper needs to overlap the sheet under it. That’s why we start at the bottom and work our way up. Do it that way until you get to the top. Put short galvanized nails in to hold it down. You won’t need many unless it’s a windy day.

tar paper

The ridge will need a couple of layers because it needs to be strong under the ridge roll. Try not to tear the paper in any area. Remember, that is the last water barrier if the water gets in under the shingles or metal.

Before you start the shingles, you will want to start flashing joints and ridges. Flashing is a thin metal that you can cut with tin snips. It lies under the shingles at joints where there is a higher concentration of water. You can just fold the flashing lengthwise for valleys and then nail it in place.


Now let’s learn how to apply the shingles. You will want to start at the bottom just like you did with the tar paper and work your way up. Make sure you offset the seams.

roofing nailsshingles

You can use roofing nails and the shingles need to be nailed above the seam. You also may need to snap chalklines to keep the rows straight.

roof shingles

Continue on until the roof is completely covered. When you get to the top, you will need a special set of shingles called a ridge cap. You can make your own but sometimes they leak. It’s better to buy asphalt ridge cap that matches the shingles. That’s about it for installing roof shingles.

Now let’s move on to metal roofing. The tar paper layout is exactly the same. Metal is available in many different colors and sizes, but it’s also available in different thicknesses. You will want to get the same color for the flashing and apply it before the metal sheets go on.

The thickness is called the gauge. The local hardware stores will usually have the thickness that is used in your location to match the climate. Where there is snow and ice, it will be a heavier gauge, but where there is a lot of rain and humidity, a thinner gauge would be just fine.

You will use a special type of metal screw with a rubber gasket under the head. The idea is to sink the screw in just until the gasket starts to squeeze out. That makes a good, tight seal.

metal roof

metal screws

The screws will easily go through the metal with a little pressure from a screw gun or drill. Here is the nailing assignment for metal sheets.

nailing shingles

Once the metal is on, you will need to put on the ridge roll. That’s just a cap piece that covers the ridge. You will need to use tar or some other kind of roof sealant on the vent pipes to seal everything up against the rain. That is it for learning how to install shingles and metal on roofs.

Applying roofing felt and flashing

Installing asphalt shingles

Installing steel roofs

Painting metal roofs

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