Learning how to shingle a roof is certainly a worthwhile process. You’ve inspected your roof and decided that it’s time to replace your roof. Thankfully, the majority of projects aren’t overly complicated and many proficient DIYers can safely take on the task. In this article, we’ll explore the difficulties, tools and equipment you’ll need, and then we’ll share a step-by-step guide on how to shingle a roof.

Is It Difficult To Shingle A Roof?

You’re right to think that roof shingling is a daunting task. You should, however, rest assured that with the right tools, materials, and techniques, it is completely achievable for the majority of homeowners. It will certainly be physically exhausting and time-consuming, but it will certainly be rewarding. Just make sure that you’re comfortable working at height before starting, as you should with any roof repairs.

The difficulty varies from roof to roof. The size, pitch, and overall complexity of the roof will contribute as well as your choice of shingling material. If you’re dealing with a large roof, or one that appears to be complicated then you might be better placed to speak with a professional roofer. That said, doing it yourself can be a cost-effective choice for smaller, simpler projects.

Always remember that the devil is in the preparation. You need to be sure that you measure correctly, calculate material quantities correctly, and ensure that you have all of the tools in place. Plan ahead, refer back to the plan regularly, and you’ll do well.

What Tools And Materials Will You Need?

Before you can get started, it’s important to gather all of the right tools and materials. If you’ve ever had to install a new roof before these will be familiar. What follows is a list of everything that you’ll need:


  • Roofing shingles: This will largely be determined by your budget, personal preferences, and the local climate. Asphalt, wood, metal, and slate are all common types of shingles.
    Underlayment: The material that is installed between the roof deck and the shingles to prevent water from penetrating the roof.
  • Roofing nails
  • Roofing felt: Not mandatory, roofing felt is an asphalt-saturated felt that is frequently used in conjunction with other underlayment materials.
  • Drip edge: A type of metal flashing installed along the edges of a roof to prevent water from seeping under the shingles and causing damage to the roof deck.
  • Roofing adhesive: A type of glue used to seal the shingles’ edges.
  • Roofing cement: Sealant used to seal any gaps or cracks in the roof and prevent water from entering the attic.


  • Ladder: For roof access, make sure it’s sturdy.
    Roofing hammer: You could use any sort of hammer, but these are specifically designed for roofing nails and shingles.
  • Roofing knife: Perfect for cutting through shingles for sizing and shaping.
    Pry bar: Used to remove old materials.
  • Chalk line: Very useful for marking straight lines.
  • Safety kit: Mandatory for all roof work, you’ll need a hard hat, safety glasses, proper footwear, and potentially harnesses.

How To Shingle A Roof In 8 Steps

Once you have the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to get underway. These are the basic steps you’ll need to take to successfully shingle your roof:

Get The Deck Prepared

Step one is the clean the deck. That means making sure that all debris is removed, all existing material is removed (including shingles, nails, and other materials), and preparing a smooth, even surface. That might mean filling or sanding where appropriate. Any bumps, gaps, or flaws can interfere with your new installation.

Install Drip Edge

The next step is to install the drip edge. To begin installing it, cut the flashing into sections long enough to cover each section of the roof edge. To ensure that there will be no gaps where water can seep through, the sections should overlap by at least 1 inch.

Start at the eaves and run the drip edge along the edge of the roof so that the bottom edge is overhanging the eaves by about ¼ to ⅜ of an inch. Using nails to secure it in place with around 12 inches between nails.

After the eaves, move onto the rake before overlapping at the roof’s corners.

Fix Your Ice Dam Protection

This is an optional step for roofs in places that suffer cold, snowy winters. You’ll want to ensure that ventilation and insulation are in place to avoid attic frosting. This is now a great time to check both of these items as you can easily access the interior.

Install The Underlayment

The underlayment will come in huge rolls, you’ll want to roll it out into sections. Work your way up from the bottom of the roof to the top. To guarantee the best coverage, make sure that you overlap the underlayment by at least 6 inches.

Now that it is in place you can either use nails or a staple gun to secure the underlayment. As with the drip edge, aim for fixings around 12 inches apart. The underlayment needs to be secured smoothly and flatly, any wrinkles or creases could cause issues with the shingles.

Prepare and Install Joint and Valley Flashing

The flashing material should then be measured and cut to fit the joint or valley, with a small overhang on each side. Install the flashing so that it overlaps the shingles and underlayment and is secured in place with roofing nails or screws.

Work On The Starter Strip

The starter strip is the first row of shingles installed along the roof’s edge. It serves as a secure foundation for the rest of the shingles to be installed and aids in their proper alignment. To begin installing the starter strip, measure and cut the shingles to the proper length.

Next, align the first starter strip shingle with the edge of the roof, making sure it extends about 1/4 inch beyond the drip edge. Use roofing nails to secure the shingle in place, being careful not to nail too close to the shingle’s edge.

Begin With The Shingle

Now that the starter strip is in place, you can begin installing the shingles. To begin, place the first shingle in the bottom corner of the roof, flush with the starter strip, and about 1/4 inch overhanging the drip edge. Use roofing nails to secure the shingle in place, being careful not to nail too close to the shingle’s edge or it’ll crack or split.

Once the first shingle is in place, continue installing additional shingles in a stair-step pattern up the roof. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fastener spacing and placement.

Install The Hip and Ridge Caps

The hip and ridge caps are installed as the final step in the shingling process. These are specially designed shingles used to cover the roof’s hips and ridges, where two roof surfaces meet at an angle. First, measure and cut the shingles to the appropriate length before installing the hip and ridge caps. Place the shingles over the hip or ridge, allowing them to overhang on both sides evenly. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where all of your roof, hips, and ridges are completely shingled! You’re done!

When Should You Call In Professionals?

While shingling a roof can be a do-it-yourself project, it’s important to know when to call in the pros. If your roof is particularly steep or complex, if you have little or no experience working with roofing materials, or if unexpected problems arise during the installation process, it may be best to hire a professional roofing contractor. The same goes for if you have any medical or health reasons that dictate whether you should be on a roof and working at height. Remember that your safety is paramount.

Key Takeaways

Shingling a roof is no easy task, but when completed you’ll have a home with a better appearance and increased durability. Taking care to follow these steps, and remembering that it might be right to call in professionals, means that you can build a high-quality roof fit for you and your family.

  • Ensure that you adequately prepare the whole roofing area before starting work.
  • Gather all your tools and materials in advance.
  • There’s no shame in turning to professionals in difficult situations.

DIY certainly isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it’s just not an option. If that sounds like your situation, give Trenton Roofing a call for a quick estimate.

Alex Valentino

Alex Valentino – Vice President

Leading the way for the company’s second generation of family and employee ownership, Alex’s mission is to create lasting relationships built on trust and respect by providing uncompromising workmanship and unparalleled customer service. With a focus on safety and consumer education, Trenton Roofing strives to set the bar for the advancement of the roofing industry and the betterment of our local communities. When he is not working, Alex can be found traveling with his fiancée, watching football or playing a relaxing round of golf with his friends.