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Installing Cedar Roof Shingles


How to Install Cedar Roof Shingles to Ensure a Leak Free Review and to Maximize their Lifespan


By: Mark J. Donovan

Cedar roofing shingles and shakes offer a number of advantages over other roofing materials. Cedar roofing shingles provide a natural elegance and have excellent insulation properties compared to other shingle products. In addition, in some cases it may be possible to install cedar roof shingles over existing roofing material. Cedar roof shingles are insect resistant and are extremely durable and strong. As a matter of fact, installing cedar roof shingles actually strengths the structural integrity of the roof. Cedar shingles can have a lifespan from 20 to 40 years depending upon the local weather environment, the slope of the roof, and how regularly the shingles are maintained.


The more arid the climate and the steeper the roof slope the longer the lifespan of the cedar shingles. Cedar shingle maintenance is minimal. Periodically cleaning and the application of a protective finish should be applied to them to maximize their lifespan.

To install cedar roof shingles start by making sure dry weather is in the forecast. To prepare the roof for the cedar shingles first apply roofing felt interlay paper over the roof battens. When installing cedar shingles on the roof make sure the thick side of the shingle is placed towards the bottom. Also always start at the bottom of the roof, at the roof eaves, when installing cedar roof shingles, and work upwards to the ridge. Also, at the roof eaves the cedar shingles should be doubled or tripled.

The first course of shingles should extend approximately 1-1/2” beyond the fascia board and about 1 inch over the gable or rake end of the roof. Two non-corrosive nails should be used for each shingle. The nails should be installed approximately ¾ inch in from the side edges and about 1-1/2” above the exposure line. When installing a course of cedar shingles, there should be spacing of approximately ¼ of an inch between adjacent shingles, and no more than 3/16 inch. The spacing is required for expansion due to moisture. Also, each course of cedar shingles should have its joints at least a minimum of ½ inch away from adjacent courses above and below it.

This is necessary to ensure a leak free roof. Additionally, use a chalk line and snap a line for each new course of shingles to ensure straight courses.

When installing lower grade cedar shingles that contain both vertical and flat grains, make sure joints are not aligned with centerline of heart. Also, any shingle with knots or similar defects should be used such that the knot or defect is on the outside edge of the shingle. Also, the course of shingles above the defective shingle should have joints such that they are at least 1-1/2 inch away from the defect area. Finally, any flat grain shingle that has a width greater than 8 inches should be split into two pieces before nailing.


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For more help on Shingling Your Home's Roof, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet. The Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet will help to ensure that your roof won't end up with a blue tarp over it and a dumpster sitting in your yard for weeks as you wait for the roofing contractor to come back and finish roofing your home.

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