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Installing A New Wooden Shingle Roof

Rustic Home >Wooden Shingle Roofs (part 1)

Reshingling or reshaking a wooden shingle or shake roof has "if", "and", and "but" conditions. You can do the job yourself:

  • If the roof pitch is not too steep and you are in no danger climbing on the roof to re-do it,
  • And if the roof shingles are even and fat on the decking and don't require removal,
  • But, you can remove the shingles/shakes, if necessary, and the work schedule can be in a time frame that lets you recover the roof quickly before rain can damage the decking and contents below the deck.

Applying a wooden shingle/shake roof is physically hard work whether the new shingles go on over the old shingles or you have to strip the shingles down to the bare decking or sheathing. In skill, the project is within the range of a do-it-yourselfer. In this article we detail and illustrate the basics of installing new shingles/shakes over old ones.

At one time, cedar shingles or shakes were widely used for roofing because of their inexpensive cost. Today, these shingles are almost exclusively made of western red cedar and cost more than asphalt shingles. They are also more difficult to apply than asphalt shingles and they don't have much resistance to fire. This may be a consideration.

The overwhelming benefit offered by wood roofing is appearance. Another is a superior R-factor (thermal resistance). 1/2-inch thick cedar shingles have an R-factor twice that of a typical asphalt shingle: .94 as compared to .44 for asphalt shingles. Heavy, hand-split shakes with a 1-inch average butt thickness have an R-factor of 1.69. This compares well with an R-factor of .05 for 1/2-inch slate. F2 ]

Shingles are cut by machine. Shakes are split by hand on at least one face, and have a rough, rustic look that cannot be duplicated by machine.

Both wood shingles and shakes come packaged the same as for asphalt shingles. Each square is designed for ordinary application of 100 square feet. There are four bundles in each square. Wood shingles come in several different sizes, with varying exposures. Each bundle covers 25 square feet.

If you can afford wood shingles, which cost about twice as much as the heaviest asphalt shingles, buy the top grade: #1 Blue Label. These are 100 percent clear edge-grain heartwood.

Although we present the basic tools and materials in the checklist on the Booldet cover, this equipment may be needed for the project:

Nail holder-
Some do-it-yourselfers like to keep nails in pockets or a container, but a nail apron worn about the waist is best for a shingle re-do.

Nail stripper-
This tool can save you time. It is not for removing nails but for lining up wood roofing nails ready for use. The nails are loaded into the stripper, with the nail head up, so that you can grab a few at a time as you need diem and without flipping them over. Wit a nail stripper, you can put down four or five shingles or shakes at one time. It is worn on the chest with a harness and costs about $20.

Shingler's hatchet-
Although you can get by with a hammer and a saw or chisel, a shingler's hatchet is recommended for wood roofing. Also called a lather's hatchet, it is often used by the pros for asphalt shingling. You can hammer nails with it as well as trimming wood shingles or shakes. If you buy this tool, make sure it has a sliding gauge for fast, accurate checking of exposure. The gauge is on the blade of the hatchet and is adjustable. A good hatchet has a cross-hatched, non-skid head at the blunt end, with a sharp blade and heel at the other. Nail strips of lumber along the gable edges and the eaves to replace the shingles, trimming at perimeter of the roof. Replace bad fascia. At the edges, remove the old shingles and then replace them with a strip of bevel siding, orienting the thin edge downward. Place additional strips of lumber inside each valley in order to divide the old metal from the new valley materia.

Safety harness-
You can buy this at boat supply stores. The harness straps around your body and has a built-in hook that may be attached to any solid spot on the roof or attach it to a nylon rope safety line.

Rubber-soled shoes-
Don't buy shoes with spikes. The soft rubber soles are good enough to prevent slipping on the roof

If the roof has a steep pitch to it and you do not feel totally comfortable on the roof's surface, please do not climb onto the roof. Call in a professional roofer.

Can you shingle over a slate roof?

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