How to Install Architectural Shingles: A Step by Step Guide

roof valley with incorporated windows with 3D pattern of architectural shingles

Architectural shingles are a special type of asphalt shingle that gives your roof a three-dimensional look. Besides the aesthetic benefits, architectural shingles also keep more water from seeping into the roof compared to regular asphalt shingles. Because of the added benefits, these types of shingles are usually more expensive.

Although most homeowners think of roofing as a job best left to the professionals, you can save money on your new roof by doing it yourself. With the right tools and a careful reading of the steps below, you can learn how to install architectural shingles on your roof.

Step 1: Gather Necessary Supplies

Most of the supplies necessary when learning how to install architectural shingles are the ones that you may already own. These include

  • An extension ladder.
  • Tape measure.
  • Hammer.
  • Nail gun.
  • Trowel.
  • Utility knife.

Before starting to install your shingles, you may need to pick up some specialty tools, such as a shingle ripper, tin snips, 1 1/2 inch roofing nails, roofing tar, and a ridge vent. To complete the job, you also need the right amount of architectural shingles, as well as felt rolls for the underlayer, and metal flashing for lining valleys, chimneys, and vents.

Step 2: Measure Your Roof

Before moving onto how to install architectural shingles, you need to make sure you have enough shingles for your roof. To do this, measure your roof to see how many 10-foot by 10-foot squares are contained in it. Once you have the total number of squares in your roof, you need to gather three bundles of shingles for each square.

Step 3: Prepare Your Roof for Installation

Next, prepare your roof for installation by removing any existing roofing materials, including shingles, underlayment, and flashing. To complete this job, use a shovel or shingle ripper to scrape the old materials off. Make sure all current nails are hammered into the decking of the roof. Last, clean any dirt or debris off the roof.

Step 4: Place Felt Backing on the Roof

While learning how to install architectural shingles, you need also to know how to lay down a layer of felt and attach metal flashing. To start, place the edge of a felt roll on top of the decking right along the lower edge of the roof. Roll out the felt in a horizontal motion across the roof.

Use a utility knife to cut the felt once you run into an obstacle, such as a valley, dormer or gable. After cutting, start laying the felt in the same manner on the other side of the obstacle. Continue laying down the felt in layers, overlapping each layer slightly, until the entire roof is covered.

Step 5: Install Metal Flashing

close up of a roof with skylight metal flashing

The last step you need to take before laying the tile is lining roof valleys, vents, and chimneys with metal flashing. To line vents and chimneys, cut the metal flashing into strips using tin snips. Then, bend the strips in half to give it a crease, unbend them, and use them to surround the chimneys and vents. Once the chimneys and vents are lined, use roofing nails to nail the bottom of the metal flashing to the roof.

For roof valleys, place metal flashing strips along the valleys and nail them into place with roofing nails. Make sure that the nails are placed 1/2 inch away from the edge of the metal flashing.

Step 6: Install a Starter Course of Shingles

To begin with your installation of architectural shingles, cut the tabs off the top of the shingle about two inches from the edge. Place this shingle on the edge of the roof located at the lower left corner. The shingle should hang out about two inches from the roof. Nail the shingle in place using a hammer or nail gun. Continue this process by placing the remaining starter course of shingles around the entire perimeter of the roof.

Nail another layer of shingles directly on top of the starter course to make the first row two shingles thick. When laying the first shingle in this top row, place it on the left corner and cut off six inches using a utility knife. Then, nail a whole shingle down next to the first one. Continue nailing down whole shingles until the top row of the starter course is complete.

Step 7: Install the Rest of the Shingles

The next step in learning how to install architectural shingles is to nail down the next row of shingles. The second row should overlap the starter course by half an inch. When installing the second row of shingles, the first shingle should be trimmed by twelve inches. After that, nail down whole shingles with a hammer or nail gun until the row is complete. Once the row is complete, trim the last shingle so it fits properly.

For each row after the second row, cut off six inches more from the first shingle than you did in the previous row. For example, in the third row, cut eighteen inches from the first shingle. This gives your roof a textured look by ensuring that the rows do not line up perfectly. Repeat the rows of tiles until you get to the top of the roof, then repeat with the other side of the roof.

Step 8: Apply the Finishing Touches

To finish up the process of installing architectural shingles, apply a liberal amount of roofing tar around pipes, chimneys or vents. Afterwards, install ridge vents all along the peak of the roof by nailing them into place.

Final Word

Learning how to install architectural shingles is not an overly complicated process, as long as you have the knowledge and necessary tools to complete the job properly. Follow the steps above to give your roof a three-dimensional aesthetic without breaking the bank to hire professional roofers.

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