How to Shingle a Roof with Cedar

Written by serena brown
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Shingling a roof with cedar is not a difficult process. The shingles will be made of either northern white cedar or western red cedar. These shingles have natural wood oils that help resist decay; they also resist insects, deflect heat, shed water, are durable and strong and can last 20 years or more. Cedar shingles can be put on top of other roofing materials including other wooden shingles and asphalt shingles. When you shingle your roof with cedar, your home will have a rustic look.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shingles
  • Ridge and hip shingles
  • Chalk line
  • 3d galvanised nails (for 16- and 18-inch shingles)
  • 4d galvanised nails (for 24-inch shingles)
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Small piece of 1-by-3 inch lumber
  • Circular saw

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  1. 1

    Position your first two shingles. Put one starter shingle on each end of the roof by the eaves. They should hang over the side by ¼ to 3/8 inch and over the eaves by 1 inch.

  2. 2

    Install the roof's starter row. Put one nail in each starter shingle to secure them. Snap your chalk line between them to use as a guide. Put shingles on the chalk line, hammering two nails into each one. Nails should be 3 to 4 inches from the bottom and ¾ inch from each side of individual shingles. Leave 1/8- to ¼-inch spaces between each shingle.

  3. 3

    Apply the rest of the shingles. Start another row by placing new shingles on top of the starter row. The exposure, or amount of shingle not covered by each new row, will be 5 inches for 16-inch shingles, 5 1/2 inches for 18-inch shingles and 7 1/2 inches for 24-inch shingles. Use two nails for each shingle and remember to leave 1/8- to ¼-inch spaces between each shingle. Position each row so that these spaces are staggered. Just place shingles so that these spaces are 1½ inch away from the space of shingles on the row below.

  4. 4

    Prepare valley roof shingles. Use one shingle as a spare to mark the angles of the valley. The valley is where two sections of your roof meet at an angle that dips lower than the rest of the roof. It makes a sort of V shape, which means shingles must be cut to match the shape before being installed. Take your spare shingle to the lower edge of the roof (eaves) and place it against one side of the valley. Part of it will cover the last shingle on the row of shingles next to the valley. Now, mark the angles of the valley on the spare shingle. This is the shape your valley shingles will need to be for installation. Next, cut the spare shingle according to the markings. Count the number of shingles needed to cover the valley. Take that many regular wooden shingles and cut them to match the spare shingle.

  5. 5

    Apply shingles to the roof valley. Position the 1-by-3 inch board on either side of the valley to guide you in keeping shingles straight. Put your first valley shingle next to the board and attach the shingle with two nails like you did with previous shingles. Continue installing valley shingles until you reach the roof ridge. Remove the guide board and begin installing shingles on the other side of the valley. These shingles will be positioned next to the shingles you installed on the first side of the valley. Continue installation to the roof ridge. If valley shingles are hanging over the ridge, put a chalk line on the ridge and shingle. Score the shingle with the utility knife and apply pressure until it breaks. Throw that overhang piece away.

  6. 6

    Apply shingles to the roof ridge and hips. Use the shingles made for these parts of the roof and apply with two nails just like you did with the other shingles.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a ladder that is sturdy. Make sure it's secure at the top and bottom. Wear nonskid, rubber-soled shoes. Call city hall and ask if you need a building permit.
  • Clean up loose shingles and nails that might make you trip. Don't touch power lines, conduits or antennas. Don't let them touch a metal ladder. Don't work when the weather is cold or wet.

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