How to Begin Your First Row of Shingles on Roofing

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If you're just starting out on a roofing project, installing the first row correctly is important. An incorrect installation of the first course can lead to water leakage or uneven shingling, and it can affect the appearance of the rest of the rows that you will install. For typical asphalt shingles, using a starter strip and roofing cement can help waterproof your roof, and snapping a chalk line can help keep the shingles aligned correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Roofing cement
  • Broom-handled brush
  • Starter strip
  • Hammer
  • Galvanized roofing nails
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Shears
  • Apply roofing cement to the area above the eaves with the broom-handled brush.

  • Press the starter strip down so that it adheres to the roofing cement. The starter strip should run the length of the roof.

  • Hammer two rows of galvanized roofing nails across the starter strip to hold it in place. Each nail should be about a foot from the next nail in the row.

  • Measure the height of the shingle with a tape measure, and put a mark at the corresponding height on both edges of the roof. Then snap a chalk line to create a guide that will keep your first row of shingles aligned well. To do this, pull out the string of the chalk line, and hold it tight at each mark. Then lift the center of the string and let it snap back into position. This will leave a horizontal chalk line at the upper section of the row of shingles.

  • Cut several inches off the end of the first shingle with shears so that the shingle joints do not line up with the joints on the starter strip.

  • Use the chalk line to position the first shingle at the bottom corner of the roof, making sure that it overhangs slightly, if desired. Keep the cut portion of the shingle to finish off the first row, if needed.

  • Use the number and positioning of nails listed in the shingle bundle to hammer in the shingle.

  • Repeat with the rest of the shingles in the row, using the cut piece of shingle at the end of the row if necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not have a starter strip, you can cut the tabs off the shingles and install them upside down at the base of the roof instead. Either of these techniques should provide a watertight application.
  • Do not install shingles on a rainy or windy day.
  • Do not install shingles yourself on a roof with a steep slope, unless you are experienced in doing so.

References

  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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