Handyman Tips


 Bernard Howe [Bernie the Builder]


Nailing Shingles Properly
Shingles typically are attached with four nails; one at each end and one above each tab slot. In windy areas, some roofers use six nails, adding one to either side of each tab slot.

Note that nails are positioned just beneath the adhesive, but above the tops of the slots. Nails also must be long enough to penetrate the sheathing by 3/4 of the thickness of sheathing. This rule applies whether fastening the shingles to a new roof or to a reroof.

Tips for Fastening Shingles

  • Use zinc-coated nails to prevent corrosion.
  • Avoid exposing fasteners. Each row of shingles must cover the fasteners of the previous course.
  • Do not drive the fastener so deep that its head breaks the surface of the shingle.
  • A nail that penetrates too easily may work its way out. Remove it and seal the hole.
  • Always drive fasteners in straight so that the heads lay flat. Nail heads that stick up at an angle can wear through the shingle above.
  • If the fastener does not penetrate properly, remove it, patch the deck, and drive another fastener nearby.
  • Do not nail into or above an adhesive strip.

Nothing is more frustrating than hammering four to six nails into a shingle, then discovering that the shingle is crooked. The procedure below will help you align the shingle correctly the first time.

  • Line Up the Shingle Begin by aligning the upper corner of the shingle in hand with the upper corner of the shingle already in place. Tack a nail to hold it in place.
  •  Tack Its Opposite End Position the opposite end of the shingle. (Some people do this by simply eyeballing where the tab hits the shingle on the previous course. Others use the gauge built into a roofing hammer.) Tack it in place.
  • Check and Nail It Give the shingle a quick double-check for alignment. Then, beginning from the left (if you are right-handed), nail the first tacked nail home and work across the course, carefully flattening out bulges. If necessary, remove one of the tacked nails to eliminate buckling.


    Tips for Using a Roofing Hammer
    A roofing hammer speeds up any roofing job and, although it is a relatively expensive tool, it is worth the investment for a large roofing job. A roofing hammer's heavy weight is an advantage for quickly whacking nails home, but be careful of its serrated head which is especially hard on fingers if you miss the nail. With a built-in course gauge set according to the exposure desired, this hammer is far more precise and much faster than simply eyeballing the top of the shingles. The guide pin can be set in any one of the several holes for the desired course depth. Hook the pin on the course below and let the bottom edge of the shingle rest against the heel of the hammer.

     The hatchet side of the hammer is designed for splitting wood shingles to size. It is less useful for composition shingles, but is still good for chopping out old roofing cement or flashing.


    Open Valleys

     Apply the Roll Roofing, Fill in the valley with an 18-inch piece of roll roofing. Roll out the length needed from a 36-inch-wide roll. Then flip it over; strike a line at 18 inches; and cut it with a utility knife. Roll it up again before carrying it up to the roof. Coat the valley with roofing cement and lay the piece of roll roofing granule-face down Drive a nail every 12 inches down one side. Nail the other side after nesting the piece completely into the valley, leaving no voids beneath it. Then center a full-width (36-inch) piece over it, granules down. Nail along one edge only. Let the roofing run wide, which means letting extra lengths of roofing flop over the ridge and eaves; these will be trimmed later. Split the roofing at the ridge and eaves so that it lays flat. Trim its lower edge flush with the eaves and cut a slight radius at the inside corner on the intersection of the eaves.

      Full Weave

    Finish shingling adjacent planes of the roof that meet at the valley. With a helper, complete the shingling of each plane, weaving the shingles by laying alternate shingles down at each course and pushing them into the valley. Clip the uppermost corner of every overlapping shingle. Apply two nails at the side of the shingle that crosses the valley. Do not nail within 6 inches of the centerline of a valley. If the pitch of the roof differs on either side of the valley, you may have to weave as many as three shingles on one side to one on the other.


    The half-weave valley is a variation on the woven valley. Begin by laying down roll roofing as described. Completely shingle one side of the roof, overlapping the valley at least 12 inches beyond the centerline. Next, shingle the opposite side, letting the shingles overlap the finished side. Clip the uppermost corner of every overlapping shingle. Do not nail within 6 inches of the centerline of the valley. Strike a chalk line down the center of the valley and trim the shingles. Trim corners nearest the valley and seal shingles with roofing cement.


    Ridges & Hips

    Gang-Cut the Tabs

    Ridges are made by cutting single tabs off of shingles. The easiest way to do this is to stack a bunch of shingles neatly together. Use a square as a guide as you cut through the first shingle to separate the tabs. Taper the cuts slightly then you can use the top shingle as a guide to slice through the shingles below.

    Trim the Final Course

    Wrap a ridge shingle piece over the ridge to check whether you need another course of shingles on either slope. Trim the last course of shingles to fit just up to the ridge.

    Wrap the Ridge

    Strike a chalk line on the most visible side of the house, usually the front. Wrap a single tab over the ridge, making sure the alignment notch centers over the apex. Use this as a guide for snapping the line. If there is a prevailing wind direction in your area, work toward it. Apply one nail at either side of each tab and just in front of the sealant line.

    Top it Off

    Nail the final shingle, and cover the nailheads with roofing cement. Seal each tab with roofing cement for a truly wind-proof ridge.



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