Nailing Cedar Shingles

Updated February 21, 2017

Wood cedar shingles add character to any home. Nothing beats the appearance of a wood cedar roof. Because cedar shingles come in different quality grades, make sure you purchase a shingle strong enough to be used on a roof. It will depend on the slope of the roof how much of the shingles will show, but applying the shingles is the same no matter what angled pitch your roof has. If you are considering a cedar shingle roof, yet you are unsure exactly how to apply it, read through the following steps. Nailing your cedar shingles properly will ensure a long lasting roof.

Apply a roofing paper over the entire roof where you will nail your cedar shingles. Use a staple gun to secure the paper.

Place the first cedar shingle on the bottom corner edge of the roof so it overhangs the gable edge by 1-inch and the eave edge by 1 1/2-inch.

Make sure the thick end of the shingle faces down and secure it with two 3-penny roofing nails. Nail them 4 inches up from the bottom and 1 inch in from the sides.

Hammer in the nails so they are flush with the surface of the shingle. A concave nail head collects water.

Continue nailing the cedar shingles from the first layer, or starter course, 1/4-inch gap between each one. When you get to the end of the line, you might need to trim the last shingle to fit.

Begin installing each additional course. Place the first shingle so the butt and the side edges are lined up with the shingles from the first layer. Overlap the shingle gaps 1 1/2 inches.

Nail the shingles 2 inches above the exposure line and 1 inch from the sides. The exposure line is the 5 1/2 inches that the top shingle overlaps the bottom.

Shingle the roof ridge by first cutting a 24-inch piece of roofing paper the length of the roof. Fold the paper in half and staple it to the roof ridge. Install a layer of shingles on top of the existing shingles and paper. Nail them in place.

Apply another strip of paper 12 inches wide. Fold it over the ridge and staple it into place. Install your final course of cedar shingles overtop the paper, nailing the shingles 2 1/2 inches from the ridge.


After the installation of your cedar shingle roof, apply a cedar shingle ridge cap. Do this by finding the angle of the ridge using a one-by-six and a one-by-four and a T-bevel. The boards should run the length of the ridge with their edges butted together. Use a circular saw or table saw to cut the boards to size.


Galvanised nails can cause staining on your cedar shingle roof. An alternative would be to use aluminium or stainless-steel nails.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • Roofing paper
  • Cedar shingles
  • 2 x 4 lumber
  • 3-penny nails
  • 6-penny sails
  • 1 x 4 cedar
  • 1 x 6 cedar
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About the Author

Lacy Enderson is an Addictions and Recovery Counselor. She is Certified with the American Association of Christian Therapists and holds a Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling. She is currently enrolled in Liberty University's Master of Divinity Degree program with Chaplaincy. Lacy is a graduate of Rhema Correspondent Bible School and has completed the first section of Berean School of the Bible. Lacy is the author of, "Addiction: A Personal Story" and "So You Want to Lose Weight But You Can't Stop Eating." Her newest novel is a teenage Christian fiction titled, "Honey Sweetheart."