How to Repair Shake Shingle Roofs


Shake or shingle roofs offer a natural, rustic appearance no other roofing material can match. Though similar, a shingle is sawn on both sides, while a shake is split on one or both sides. Shingles are thinner at the butt, while shakes tend to be more even in thickness throughout. Both shakes and shingles are made of wood, usually cedar. Care and maintenance are the same. The natural oils in cedar make the wood resistant to rot and disease. The Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau estimates a properly maintained cedar shake or shingle roof will last 30 or 40 years, and most shake and shingle warranties are for 20 years (see Reference 1).

Things You'll Need

  • Roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • Roofing cement
  • Metal shim
  • Hacksaw or shingle ripper
  • New shingle
  • Wood block
  • Nail a shingle or shake that has merely lifted from the roof back in place. Seal around the nail with roofing cement. If the shingle has partially split but the roof is not leaking, you don't need to repair it. Some shingles will split over time, but this shouldn't harm the integrity of your roof.

  • Insert a metal shim underneath any badly split shingle. The shim should be made of dark, corrosion-resistant metal. Cut the shim about ½ inch longer than the shingle and wide enough to extend and inch or so on either side past the split. Bend under the bottom corners of the shin and slide it underneath the damaged shingle. The bent corners will hold the shim in place.

  • Remove broken, warped or damaged shingles. Use a chisel and hammer to split the damaged shingle into pieces, and pull out as much of the shingle as you can. Slide a hacksaw beneath the shingle and cut off the nails. You can also use a shingle ripper, which you may be able to buy from a roofing supply company or rent from an equipment rental center.

  • Cut a replacement shingle. The new shingle should be one-half inch narrower than the space it will fill. This will allow the shingle to expand when it gets wet.

  • Slip the replacement shingle under the shingle above it and tap into place, stopping about ¼ inch before it's flush with the shingle above it and leaving a ¼ inch gap on either side. Hammer in a roofing nail on either side of the shingle, about ¼ inch from the side and right at the edge of the preceding row of shingles. Drive these nails in at a slight angle. Rest the wood block against the bottom of the new shingle and give it a couple of sharp taps to fully set it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Inspect your roof annually to spot minor damage before it becomes a problem. Keep moss, overhanging tree limbs and debris off a wood roof to prevent deterioration.

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