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How to Install Asphalt Shingles

Rutuja Jathar
Installing asphalt shingles is easier, if you have some basic knowledge of roofing. Here are instructions on how to install asphalt shingles.
It doesn't need an expert to install the shingles; in fact it is the easiest roofing material to install. All that one needs to have is the basic knowledge of its technique. Installing procedure on both the old and the new roofs is just the same. It is not necessary to follow the original shingle pattern.
It is important that you must change the roofing structure and then install new asphalt shingles starting from the lower edge of the roof. This is because following the exact pattern of old roofing shingles may sometimes develop waves in the new roofing and no one would like such a disaster to happen.

Asphalt Roofing Shingles: Types

There are two types of asphalt shingles that are popularly used, namely organic shingles and fiberglass shingles. Both the types vary in their sizes, weight, and the ingredients.
  • The organic shingles are made up of felt, cellulose, paper waste, or other material saturated with asphalt.
  • The fiberglass shingles are nothing but the shingle-shaped fiberglass pieces coated with asphalt fillers. The old versions of shingles are extremely durable during heavy storms, so they should be preferred.
  • Organic shingles are also available in the laminated form; they are heavier and a bit expensive than the other forms.


Selecting the right type of shingle is important. They are best in the cooler temperature areas, than the hotter ones. The three-tab asphalt shingles available in the market are relatively good. But choose the one which provide the best durability, more wind resistance, and sustain the thermal shocks (cracks that are caused by changes in the temperature).
You can also select the white-colored reflecting asphalt shingles, which are known for their durability. They reflect solar light and tend to last longer than the darker ones. The asphalt shingles are the less-expensive roofing option available. 
The cost of asphalt shingles is approximately around $30-$50 for each bundle. You can also color asphalt shingles by putting some coats of white roofing coatings. Some people also go for the tin or the metal roofing shingles.

Installation Basics

The very first thing to do is to check for the ventilation of the attic. It is observed that the shingles lasts long if the attic is well-ventilated. Prefer taking up the re-roofing/roofing during the warm season and on a dry day.
Never start the roofing job in winter or early in the morning, when the roof is totally wet with the overnight dew. The heat from the sun always helps the underlying asphalts to soften up. Never use staple guns to fix the shingles. The traditional roofing nails are the best available option.
Safety is one thing you must always take care of. The roof, the asphalt shingles, and you, all three must be completely safe during the whole installation process. For that, you need to take every possible precautionary measure.
Use an adequately long and secure ladder. Do not use the sliding ladder. If the slope of your roof is more than 6° rising to horizontal 12°, better opt for the roofing brackets or boards. They will provide you with a bit of extra support for your feet.

Installation Preparation


1. Measure the exact area (the length and the width) of the roof that needs the asphalt shingles.
2. After you get the square footage of the area, divide it by 100 to determine the number of squares required to count the number of shingles per square feet as well as the waterproof flashing that is needed to cover all the underlying of the shingles.
3. Decide the number of roofing nails that you will need to fix the shingles. Keep in mind that one square foot of shingle needs approximately 2 pounds of galvanized roofing nails (nails with 3/8 inch or ½ inch head).


Remove the old shingles from the roof. Clean asphalt shingles using a square-tipped spade or a roofing shovel. Check for the condition of the underlying roofing material. See if it is neatly nailed down. Replace any rotten plywood and nail it down too.

Installation Materials

  • Three-tab asphalt shingles
  • Felt roofing
  • Asphalt roofing cement
  • Chalk line
  • Carpenter's apron
  • Cleanup cloth
  • Aluminum or copper flashing
  • Hammer
  • Knee pads
  • Ridge shingles
  • Ladder
  • Roofing felt, nails and shovel
  • Rubber-soled shoes
  • Tin snips
  • Level
  • Safety ropes
  • Waterproof flashing
  • Work gloves

Procedure to Install

  • Start installing the first roofing shingle from the lower corner of your left side, while facing the roof.
  • Remove the tabs and nail the half shingles there, with the sides facing outwards.
  • Cut 6 inches from the first shingle, placed in the extreme left corner. Then start placing the next shingles along that length and at the lower edge of the roof. Overlap the roof by ½ an inch.
  • Now install the first row of the three tab shingles from the bottom-left corner of the roof. Start with a full shingle and then overlap the roof by ½ an inch.
  • Use a chalk line as a marker, until you finish installing the first row.
  • Begin the second row by cutting the first shingle 6 inches off the length. Start installing all the lengths by following the same procedure until the seventh row.
  • The first shingle in the 7th row should be a full shingle. Finish the roof upside before moving across. This will cut the unnecessary width of the roof.
  • Now start working across the roof, after installing six rows of shingles, at the upper side of the roof.
  • Keep on joining the shingles and fix each with four nails. Create overlapping of ½ inches of the shingles, similarly to the starting line.
  • Continue repeating the same procedure until you reach to the top of the roof.
  • You might need to trim the shingles a bit for the better setup of the roof.
  • Follow the same procedure at the other side of the roof too.
  • When you will reach at the top of the roof from the other side, just overlap the top shingles with nails, in order to cover the ridge.
Installing the asphalt shingles is a bit tiring and demands a lot of hard work too and once you are done with it, the maintenance of the asphalt shingles becomes essential. It is generally advised that the roof should be cleaned with the solution of trisodium phosphate.
Cleaning asphalt shingles is always a tricky job to do. Be sure to keep the solution away from your garden as it can destroy the flowers and plants.
Well-judged planning, perfect execution, and some safety measures can make installing asphalt shingles simpler.