Roofing or re-roofing a building is a big undertaking. While there’s no reason at all why a competent DIY home enthusiast can’t accomplish the task, if you’ve no experience of roofing a building with wooden shingles before; it might be a good idea to start by re-roofing a garage or other smaller out-building first.
Roofing a property is hard work and does require you to be constantly aware of your own working safety. That said if you’ve got the tools and got the right mental attitude, accomplishing this DIY job could give you immense personal satisfaction.
Equipment and Safety
When installing new roof shingles of any sort you want to minimize the amount of moving about on the roof that you have to make. Having the correct tools to hand is one simple way of keeping your movement to a minimum.
Presuming that you’re either re-roofing or just replacing a few shingles on your roof, rather than roofing a new building, you’ll require the following tools:
- Nail pliers to remove old nails; sometimes you can get away with using a claw hammer, but you might need something to help get to more stubborn nails.
- A nail stripper, which actually helps you line up wood shingles and their nails – allowing you to fit four or five shingles all at once.
- A claw hammer, to knock in the nails and to help remove old ones.
- A shingle hatchet, also known as a lather’s hatchet, for trimming the shingles and, of course, you could use this instead of a claw hammer to drive home the new nails.
- Finally do get yourself a good quality tool belt and make sure it’s got a nail pocket. You need all the tools with you at all the time to avoid unnecessary movement.
On the safety side wear sturdy rubber soled boots or shoes and have a roof ladder to work from. Some people attach a boating safety harness to the roof as well, but opinion on that idea is divided. It could hinder your movement and if you’re that unconfident about being on the roof – should you be up there at all?
Choosing Wooden Roof Shingles
Although Cedar wood is the most popular material for wooden shingles, it’s important to ensure that the shingles you use either match or complement the rest of the building. This isn’t just a question of deciding which wood to use but also what size of shingles to use and whether or not to buy dressed shingles.
Whilst you can overlay old shingles with new ones, you mustn’t exceed more than three layers of shingles as the weight can impair the integrity of the roof frame. However, it’s always best to remove old shingles, as damaged or rotting ones could attract an infestation or create problems for the shingles above the old ones.
Finally make sure you order enough shingles for the job – you don’t want to suddenly find you need more shingles and the weather is about to turn!
Installing Wood Shingles
As required, either repair or replace the roofing felt and the laths that the shingles will be nailed to. The laths should be 1” x 3” and be spaced ½ the length of a shingle apart; running across, not down, the roof.
Being sure to start ‘square’ to the edge of the roof, nail the shingles ¾” from their edges and centrally onto the laths about 11/4” above where it won’t be exposed. For subsequent rows make sure that the centrally located nails you’ve just fixed are covered by the next shingle and that shingle joints do not overlap.
Leave about a 1½” gap between the joint (overlap) of successive courses, the actual amount of gap required is determined by the slope of your roof. The first course of shingles should overlap the first roof board by about 1½” and the first and last rows of shingles should be two shingles thick.
The roof ridge can be made by fixing shingles to alternate sides of the roof and from one row to another. Any shingles with knots or imperfections in them they must be treated and the affected part of the shingle covered by a subsequent layer.
Before starting work check your local building regulations for recommended expansion gaps in humid areas and fit an insulation layer under the roof when completed.