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In this video, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva reveals the best ways to secure shingles to a roof.

In this video, we walk you through how to shingle a roof so it is straight and water-tight. These project guidelines are for low roofs that allow easy access, such as those on porches, sheds, or doghouses. For larger roofs, hiring a professional roofing crew with proper fall protection is advised.

How Hard is it to Shingle a Roof?

Adding shingles onto a roof can be challenging and dangerous. It’s important to wear the appropriate safety gear such as a harness and a line attached to the ridge or staging with safety rails around it to protect yourself from falling.

Should Shingles Overhang the Drip Edge?

Overhanging shingles over the drip edge about a half-inch can help with surface tension. Plan out how you will lay your shingles beforehand, here’s how we recommend you approach your installation.

Installing Roof Shingles in 11 Steps:

  1. To start installing shingles, line up aluminum drip edge flush with the edge of the roof and make a pencil line at the top on each end of the house.
  2. Using the chalk line, snap a line between the two marks to get a straight edge.
  3. Pull the drip edge down about a half inch from that line to create a gap between the drip edge and the fascia board.
  4. Nail the drip edge in place using 1¼-inch galvanized roofing nails and a hammer.
  5. Repeat steps for gabled ends, installing the drip edge up the roof along the gable.
  6. Lay out 30-lb. asphalt roofing felt paper and nail it in place using 1¼-inch galvanized roofing nails.
  7. To lay out the design for the shingles, begin at the bottom of the roof and place a tape measure ½ inch from the edge of the roof to ensure the shingles overhang the drip edge.
  8. Mark 12 inches up on the roof for the first course of shingles, then mark every 5 inches all the way up the roof to set your reveal. Do this on both sides of the roof.
  9. Using the chalk line, snap a straight line on each 5-inch increment.
  10. Use the chalk line to snap a straight line vertically every 6 inches.
  11. Install a starter course by cutting off the three tabs on a shingle, leaving only the top tar section.