How Are Roof Shingles Installed?

How Are Roof Shingles Installed?

December 18, 2023

Shingles are available in a wide variety of styles and materials of different quality and price points. With so many options and unique roof shapes out there, there are multiple ways roofing shingles can be installed.

The installation process greatly depends on the type of shingles being used and the shape and needs of the roof itself. In this post, we’ll get into the most common shingling techniques and explore how different types of shingles differ in application from traditional asphalt shingles. We’ll also take a look at the differences between shingle installation with a nail gun versus hand-nailing. Keep reading to learn how roof shingles are installed!

Common Shingling Methods

As we mentioned earlier, different types of shingles and different roofing needs influence what type of installation method a roofer will use. With so many types of homes and shingle options out there, roofing techniques have gotten more and more specialized, too. Below are some of the most common ways roofers lay shingles.

Step Shingling

Step shingling is a popular method for installing standard asphalt shingles on sloped roofs. It involves laying shingles in a step pattern, starting at the bottom edge of the roof and working upwards. Each row of shingles is laid offset from the layer below it, creating a step-like appearance and helping create a seal between the layers of shingles. 

Pyramid Shingling

Pyramid shingling is a method that involves laying shingles starting in a corner of a roof plane and working across in a diagonal until the shingles are complete. Pyramid shingling can be a bit more difficult to control, as the pattern is not as simple as other methods. The result, however, is a more seamless shingle application that can be more visually appealing if installed correctly.

Racking Pattern

Racking is a fairly simple shingle technique in which shingles are installed vertically up the roof instead of horizontally. It can be easier to keep the shingles aligned with this method, and in some cases, it can be a faster way to apply shingles than other techniques. While this is the case, some shingles can have a zipper-like appearance where they meet from this system of shingling.

Bonus: Specialty Shingle Applications

Depending on the type of shingles you have, some types require special installation methods to achieve their desired look. Differences in application can create different depth effects, affect color variation between shingles, and even affect how durable your roof is.

How Installation Differs for Different Types of Shingles

Slate, tile, metal, wood… there are so many options when it comes to the types of shingles you can have installed on your roof. With all this variation, different materials can require different installation techniques. Here are some popular shingle materials and some of their installation variations.

Tile Roofs

Tile shingles for roofs require a different installation method because of their weight. Instead of the traditional wood-and-nail system you may know of, tiles often require extra support.

This starts with wooden support beams called battens that the tiles are secured to. They are designed to hold tiles in place and work well for types of tile that are made to be hung on battens by hooks or lips.

Tiles are also laid individually, unlike some asphalt shingles which come in 3-tab sets. The tiles are nailed into the battens (if battens are needed) one by one until the roof is complete.

Slate Shingles

Slate is loved for its natural appearance and durability, but with that comes extra weight on your roof. For slate, there are a few ways roofers install them depending on the type of slate shingles they work with.

Usually, slate roofing is nailed down using special machinery and tools that are designed to put holes in the slate without breaking it. In some cases, the slate may also be glued down to provide extra support. You may also occasionally see roofers use slate hooks, which offer extra support to the bottom of slate tiles on steeper roof pitches.

Wood Shake

Wood shake roofing consists of wooden planks that are individually laid on top of one another in an offset pattern. Unlike other materials, wood expands and contracts quite a bit depending on moisture, temperature, and the weather in general.

Because of this, wood shake must be installed with about a fifth of an inch of space between each shingle. This gives the shingles plenty of room for expansion if needed and prevents the roof from warping or incurring damage. This also allows for better ventilation, helping keep the wood dry and avoiding rot or excessive weathering.

Hand-Nailing Versus Nail Guns

Most roofing shingles are installed with nails, but there are different pros and cons to hand nailing versus using a nail gun. 

Hand-Nailing: Pros and Cons

Manually nailing is not as common as it used to be in the roofing industry, but it allows for a lot more precision and control over the nailing process. Hand nailing makes it easier for roofers to determine if the nail is installed deeply enough and secure enough. Some roofs may have “gaps” or thinner spots that the nails can accidentally be driven into, which is more easily avoided by hand nailing.

The downside to hand nailing is that it is slower than using a nail gun. This can also increase labor costs if you are hiring a roofing company for installation. With hand nailing, the materials are also cheaper to purchase, but the application is much slower.

Using A Nail Gun: Pros and Cons

Nail guns are much faster and more efficient than hand nailing. Instead of manually driving nails through the shingles, nail guns allow roofers to easily install nails with the push of a button. They work well for larger roofing projects and are also relatively precise.

The only drawbacks to nail guns are their potential risk for damage or incorrect application. Without the hands-on feel of manually nailing, it can be easier for roofers to make mistakes like under-driving nails, nailing in incorrect spots, or nailing at an incorrect angle. Because most roofers use nail guns, it’s important to choose an experienced company that knows how to avoid these mistakes.

How Are Roof Shingles Installed? Final Thoughts

Proper shingle installation is crucial to ensuring your roof’s longevity and ability to stand up to the elements. Depending on the type of shingles you choose and your unique roof, a roofer may employ different shingling techniques to ensure the best result. When it comes to nailing preferences, most roofers will use nail guns for speed and efficiency. 

If you’re looking for an experienced roofing company for residential or commercial roofing services, choose Statewide Roofing in Oklahoma. We operate all over the state and have multiple roofing options available to suit your needs. Call or contact us today to get started on a free estimate, and take a look at our portfolio to see some of our past roofing projects and experience.

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Call Statewide Roofing for a free quote for all your roofing and home improvement needs. We specialize in all kinds of roofing systems for both commercial and residential buildings. Browse of list of services by visiting our commercial and residential pages, and take a look at our portfolio for some example work and projects our team is proud of.

Let us know if you have any questions about us, our services, financing, repairs, or our process. Our team is here to answer any of your questions and get your the information you're looking for for any of your roofing needs. We're happy to help! For immediate assistance, give us a call to speak with one of our professionals and get started with Statewide.

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