How to Install Roof Shingles

There are some basic guidelines that you should follow to install roof shingles. Before you begin this type of home improvement project make sure to let someone know that you are on the roof or if possible, work with someone else. Being on a roof can be dangerous and for your safety you need to make sure that someone else knows that you are up there.

Determining How Many Shingles to Purchase

The first step to install roof shingles is to decide how many you need to buy for the project. Find the square footage for the area that will be shingled. Next, you will multiple the lengths by the width measurements. Do this for each section of the roof.

Add all the totals together to determine your total square footage. Divide the final total that you determined for the square footage by the number 100. This final number is how many shingles you need to buy. You can buy an additional ten percent to have for cuttings and waste material.

Roofing Nails

To install roof shingles you will need additional roof supplies. Make sure that you have ample roofing nails. Hot galvanized roofing nails will work the best. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the roofing nail size, weight, and nail head diameter.

Roofing Felt

It is important to lay roofing felt if you are completely re-doing a roof or starting a new roof. The best roofing felt is in 15 pound weight. You should purchase enough to cover the entire square footage of the roof.

Roof Cement

To install roof shingles you need roof cement. The roof cement will be used for the edgings, the flashings and the ridges.

Roof Shingle Type

There are many different types of roof shingles. The standard and most commonly used is the five inch exposure asphalt shingle. Read the recommendations for the type of weather, roof incline and the building type to determine which shingles are going to work best for your project.

Laying the Felt

Once you have checked the roof for protruding nails, limbs, and debris you are ready to lay the roofing felt. Staple the roofing felt to the roof. Overlap the felt edges by two inches to insure that there is adequate weather protection for the roof.

Starter Strip Shingles

Find the center of your roof and mark it with a piece of chalk and create a line to all edges of the roof. Next you will lay down your starter strip shingles. Make sure that they hang about 5/8 of an inch over the edge.

Laying the Shingles

Once your starter strip is completely done around the roof, you are ready to lay your shingles. Begin laying shingles on the starter strip starting with the center point. You can locate this from the previous chalk line that you used on the roof. Secure each shingle with the roofing nails and work in an orderly fashion until the entire roof is covered. Each shingle should bump against the shingle that you laid as the starting point or the center shingle.


Seal any edgings, flashings and ridges with the roof cement. Always work with someone or let others know that you are on the roof.