How to Roof a Shed

Updated February 21, 2017

When it comes to keeping water out of your shed, you must roof it. Roofing a shed, or any building for that matter, is an art. Applying shingles to the shed requires working in layers. Building paper overlaps the sheathing on the shed. Shingles overlap the paper. Each row of shingles overlaps the one below it. In one way or another, each seam is sealed on the roof with a shingle. You need carpentry skills to complete this project.

Install drip caps along the bottom edges of the shed roof according to the manufacturer's directions. Nail the drip caps at 10-inch intervals into the roof sheathing with roofing nails and a hammer.

Staple 15-pound building paper to the sheathing on the roof with a staple gun and staples. Start applying the building paper along the eaves and work upwards toward the ridge of the roof. The ridge is the roof's peak. Overlap the strips of building paper about 2 inches at the edges and 4 inches at the ends.

Install drip caps along the rakes on top of the roofing paper. The rakes are the outside edges of the roof in the front and the back of the shed and on both sides. Secure the drip caps to the rakes with roofing nails and a hammer. Drive the nails at about 10-inch intervals.

For the first course of roofing, cut the tabs off the shingle with a utility knife. Secure the shingles in place on the roof with four roofing nails---one at each corner-- and a hammer. Overlap the shingle with the drip cap on the end and on the bottom of the roof approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Continue nailing cut shingles along the bottom row of the roof to create a solid strip of shingles.

Measure up the width of the full shingle from the drip edge with a tape measure. Make a mark at each end of the roof with chalk. Snap a chalk line between the marks.

Add a full row of shingles on the top of the starter course. Align the upper edge of the shingle with the chalk line made in Step 5. Secure it in place with roofing nails and a hammer. Make sure the roofing nails are long enough and follow the shingle manufacturer's instructions for precise nailing.

Place the second row of shingles against the roof so that the tabs overlap the solid portion of the first row, and mark with a chalk line. Trim 6-inches off the end of the first shingle with a utility knife. Secure the shingle to the roof with roofing nails and a hammer. Doing this positions the shingles so a tab will cover the joints in the row below. Continue laying the rest of the row of full shingles.

Work your way up the roof using a utility knife to trimm the first shingle of every row so that is 6-inches shorter than first shingle in the row below. Start the seventh row with a full shingle, and then begin shortening the shingles again. Continue working all the way up the roof and then repeat for the other side following the same technique.

Shingle the ridge with 12-inch squares of shingles cut from standard shingles. Bend each edge over the ridge and secure with nails and a hammer. Drive nails in at 1-inch intervals from the edge and 5 1/2 inches from finished edge of the cap pieces.


Working with shingles is easier done in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is not at its most intense, causing them to become soft and susceptible to damage from walking on them. If you do work with the shingles when the sun is most intense, water them with a garden hose to cool them.

Things You'll Need

  • Drip cap
  • Roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • 15-pound building paper
  • Shingles
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk
  • Chalk line
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About the Author

Stephanie Nolan has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles appear on various websites, where she specializes in topics about home improvement, parenting and interior design. Nolan holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.