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How to Install Cedar Roofing Shingles

Cedar Roof Shingles

When the weather begins to get warm and dry, many people start on roofing projects. This time of year makes it perfect to get the job done without the weather getting in the way. Some people put off getting a new roof due to the cost, but the benefits outweigh the cons. A new roof will increase the value of your house and improve the overall appearance. You’ll also be protected against potential leaks when the rainy season begins and won’t have to worry about parts of it falling in if the roof is old.

Cedar roofing is a popular choice due to how nice it looks on a variety of houses. It also has an advantage over other material when it comes to insulation. Cedar tends to last much longer than other types of roofing, which is a reason many people choose this material. It can be tricky to deal with if you’re installing it on your own, so it’s important to know how to do it correctly. The wood can contract and expand during the changing seasons. If you don’t take precautions, water damage can also occur.

Getting the Material

Buying Materials

The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how much material you should buy. You’ll need to find out what the square footage area of your roof is so you’ll know how many shingles will be required. The best way to do this is by measuring the square footage of each section of your roof separately and then adding them together. This will give you a more accurate representation of how much material you’ll need. You can then divide that number by 100, which will give you how many squares you’ll need.

Once you get the material, you’ll probably want to install it right away. This is a mistake many people make, so make sure you allow the wood to have enough exposure time to the climate in your area first. Moisture levels and temperature will affect the wood causing it to contract or expand. A good way to get the shingles ready to use is to put them outdoors, somewhere that’s off the ground and under cover. How much time they need to acclimatize will depend on the region where you live. Ask at your local hardware store if you’re unsure.

Prepping the Roof

Roof Repair

Next, you’ll be prepping the roof to install your shingles. When adding cedar to your roof, you’d be better off ripping off the old roof so that you can be sure there’s no underlying damage and so that the cedar can be better ventilated to avoid warping. You’ll especially need to do this if your roof already has two layers of shingles — anything more is too heavy and usually goes against local building codes.

Take out all the old nails along with the old shingles. You can use a flat bar to help you break the seal and remove the shingles. Once that’s taken care of, you can set down roofing felt to prepare for the new shingles to be put up and nailed in. Be sure the surface is clean without any remaining debris.

When it comes to materials and tools, having the wrong nails can greatly affect how your roof will turn out as the years go on. You’ll want to use two-inch nails made of stainless steel, aluminum, or galvanized steel. If you choose stainless steel, pick an alloy based on how far away you are from the ocean. Most people will need a 304 alloy; however, you’ll need a 316 alloy if you’re less than 15 miles away from saltwater. Having ring shanks on the nails will prevent them from coming out as the roof naturally expands.

Installing the Shingles


Once all that is ready, you can go ahead and begin nailing the new shingles on the lower part of the roof. Overlap every shingle by at least an inch and a half from where the edge of the roof is. Make sure to put the thick end at the top on only the bottom row. Each shingle will have two nails that go in it an inch from either side and 4 inches from the top of the shingle. They’ll need space to expand, so keep at least 1/4 inch of space between each one.

When you’ve finished installing shingles in the first row, put down a layer of roofing felt on the peak before continuing. You don’t want to finish installing the top row until this is done. Ventilation will be very important during this process, so keep that in mind. Shingle curling or warping can occur and cause severe damage if the shingles aren’t properly ventilated. A cold roof system will help keep the temperature even. Ventilation also allows the shingles to dry properly so they don’t rot in the future, which means you’d have to reinstall them.

It’s tempting to use a nail gun when you’re installing shingles. It seems like it will be much more time efficient than hand-nailing them in. Unfortunately, nail guns tend to put the nail too far into the shingle, which can cause it to crack. This can even cause it to fall off in the future, which will waste time and money reinstalling them. It’s best to put the two nails in each shingle by hand. This way, they will go in just the right amount and you don’t have to worry about them splitting or cracking.

Installing cedar roofing shingles yourself can be done when you prepare for all the steps ahead of time. Measure out the square footage of the roof to make sure you have enough wood. A good rule of thumb is getting 10 percent more than you need just in case you need more material. Getting the proper material and letting it get used to the climate will make sure the wood is ready to install. Putting the nails in by hand will greatly decrease the chances of them cracking, and you can put them in the proper locations more accurately.

Having a new cedar roof will make your home look much more attractive and even newer. You’ll be prepared for any harsh winter weather that may come later in the year as well.

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