How to Shingle a Shed?

During these Covid times many people are working from home and find themselves with some extra spare time to complete chores around their homes. One such chore could be needing to shingle a backyard or cottage shed.

To hire a professional to do such work can be more expensive than if one could shingle a shed themselves. The obvious differences in cost include the fact that pro roofing contractors have to pay liability insurance, WSIB premiums, pay the roofer themselves, fuel the service vehicle, and on an on it goes due to the overhead costs of running a business.

But; if a person was somewhat handy, they may be capable of shingling a simple shed by following these tips:

  1. Get prepared. Start by measuring the surface areas of the shed, and also noting the footage of the eaves roof edges and the length of the roof rake edges. If the roof is a four sided hip design; then also measure te length of each hip and the ridge.
  2. Let’s assume that the field area of the roof is 150 square feet. We will assume that there are two hips at the back of the shed which are eight feet long each, and the two rakes edges at the front of the shed are five feet each. The length of the roof eaves areas on the three slopes add up to 28 feet.
  3. After recording this important information, one can now calculate the amount of materials which are required to complete the shingling of the shed.
  4. The shingles are sold in packs which cover a particular number of square feet per bundle. The square footage of coverage can vary depending on the particular style of shingle one purchases. (A home improvement associate can help insure you get the correct number of bundles required based on the particular style of shingle you select).
  5. In order to calculate the total number of shingles you will require to complete the job, consider the following from our example measurements above: 150 sq. of field roof area plus the starter shingles used along the bottom roof eaves areas and the rake edges, and include what is required to cap the hips and ridges.
  6. Take the total linear footage of rakes and eaves (38 feet in this example), and divide that by two, and it will equal the square footage of shingles needed to cover those areas. The answer for our example is then 19 sq. ft. required.
  7. The next step is to calculate the amount of cap shingles required to cover the hips and ridge. Our example suggests 20 ft are required. Take 20 ft. and multiply by 12 inches equals 240 inches. Divide 240 inches by 5.5 inches (which is the installed exposure of a shingle cap), and you will conclude that you will require about 44 shingle caps to complete the job. If using three tab asphalt shingles, you get three caps out of each shingle piece. As there are 21 shingles in a pack of three tab shingles, you will conclude that one bundle will handily cover the caps you require.
  8. To sum up the shingles required to shingle this shed example: 150 sq, ft, for field of the roof plus 19 sq. ft for eaves and rakes plus 32 sq. ft. for caps; equals 201 square ft. Each bundle of three tab shingles covers about 32 sq. ft. Divide 201 by 32 equals 6.3 bundles of shingles needed.
  9. Now you will purchase seven bundles of shingles which will also allow for any cutting and waste involved with shingling the shed. In addition you will require some basic tools.
  10. Basic tools involve a ladder and rope to tie off the ladder to the gutter if the shed has one. A knife with a hook blade, a chalk line, hammer, a roll of tar paper, 1-1/4” galvanized roofing nails, one tube of roofing caulk and heavy duty garbage bags for toting the old shingle away. You will also require a short handled flat spade or pitch fork to remove the shingles.
  11. Note that if one has nervousness about climbing a ladder or working on a steeper pitch, the project may best be done by others in the interest of safety. We will assume our shed example provides for a comfortable height and roof pitch.
  12. Now you have your materials and tools and you are comfortable to start the job. The next thing to do is read the instructions on the back of the shingle pack.
  13. Get started by removing the old shingles to expose the roof boards or plywood decking beneath. Make sure to hammer down or pull any exposed nails until the deck is cleaned off. Be sure to inspect for rotted wood and replace as needed.
  14. The next step is to cover the shed in tar paper, nailing it down to the roof from the centre of the paper outward, to avoid wrinkles. Install the paper starting at the bottom of the slope and apply each subsequent course in a water-shedding manner by over lapping one strip over the next as one progresses up the roof slope. Half lap the tar paper and install extra strips of tar paper over the hips and ridges, if one must leave the project. This method will provide a measure of water resistance in the event it rains before shingling can take place.
  15. Once the roof has been covered in tar paper the process of shingling can begin. Assuming one is using three tab shingles; begin by laying the starter course of shingles along the bottom roof eaves edge.
  16. Laying the starter course of shingles involves turning the shingle upside down so that the shingle tabs face upward. In other words, the solid portion of the shingle will face downward toward the eaves. Nail the shingle with three nails, along the tar strip line. The starter shingle should overhang the eaves edge of the roof by at least an inch and a half. Complete the same process along the rake edge of the roof. All starter shingles should butt end to end with one another. The starter strip is designed to provide a solid surface beneath the field shingle and slows the field shingle to seal to the starter shingle beneath at the tar line.
  17. Once the starter course of shingles has been installed at all roof eaves areas and rake edges; the field shingles may then be applied. For the amature installer; the easiest method involves nailing the field shingles in a horizontal pattern. Begin by placing the field shingle with tabs facing downward, over top of the starter shingles previously laid. Be sure to offset the field shingle six inches away from the edge of a starter shingle. This is important so that water does not track underneath the shingles. The field shingle will receive four nails, to be placed above the slots of the hingle and at opposing ends of the shingle (see instructions on shingle pack).
  18. Each course of shingles being installed as one progesses up the roof slope, should be offset six inches from the edge of the shingle in the preceeding row. To make this esaier the manufacturer has made slits at the six inch mark at each end of the shingle on the headlap portion of the shingle. The result would look like a set of stairs as one was observing shingle courses projecting upward on the roof.
  19. Periodically, one can snap a horizontal chalk line across the bottom edge of a course of shingles onto a papered section of the roof. By following the chalk line, one can keep the shingle rows straight on a horizontal plain. Pro roofers will often start off the roof by striking a vertical chalk line on the papered deck and running courses of shingles up the roof, offsetting each shingle by six inches on each upward course. This method is referred to as “racking the shingles”. They will then nail progressive rows of shingles beside the one laid; effectively running rows up the roof from the eaves to the peak ,as opposed to installing courses horizontally across the roof.
  20. Using a hook blade knife, one will cut the shingles as they reach either the rake edge of the roof or the hip portion of the roof. If cutting at the rake edge; one cuts the shingle in line with the edge of the starter shingle previously placed at the rake. If cutting at the hip or valley area of a slope, one will cut in alignment with the slope of the hip. When nailing a roof one should never see a nail in between a slot of two shingle tabs.
  21. Once the field shingles have been laid and trimmed, installation of the roof caps at hips and ridges can begin.
  22. The first step is to cut the three tab shingles into three pieces from each individual shingle. By turning a bundle with the tabs facing upward; one can cut the shingles starting at the slot and knicking a slight “v” in the body of the shingle itself. The result will be three individual shingle tabs where the headlap portion is effectively tapered on both sides of the shingle cap. The procedure is often referred to as “ butter-flying the shingle”. You will now have shingles which have been turned into shingle caps.
  23. To install shingle caps,begin by centering one shingle cap at the bottom of the hip and nailing securely. Take a second shingle cap and tack it temporarily near the top of the hip. Take a chalk line and strike a line on one side of both placed caps to result in a visible straight line. One may then begin to install the caps upward on the hip. When reaching the top of the hip, it will be necessary to cut the cap to contour to the shape of the hip to ridge junction. One can repeat the process at the ridge (peak) of the roof and where adjoining the hip sections; cut a slot in the final cap, and fold it over itself. It is important to caulk the slit neatly and adequately at this junction. Be sure to trim your bottom, hip cap  so it does not overhang the gutter and aligns with both opposing eaves edges.
  24. All that remains to finish the shingling of your shed is to clean out debris from any gutters and take away the shingle refuse to the dump.

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