How to Install Asphalt Shingles Like a Pro: Great Tips and Ideas

A shingled roof
•••   Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

Asphalt shingles are one of the most used materials for roofing applications. Depending on the type and pitch of the roof, certain instructions must be followed. These types of shingles work great with hip roofs, garages, sheds and almost on every roof. Here are some of the best tips offered by manufacturers and industry pros.

Asphalt Shingles Professional Installation Tips

These are some of the best tips that you can follow when installing asphalt shingles:

  • Start by installing shingles from the lower left corner, working to the right and also working uphill.
  • Almost 75% of roof leaks are spotted in valleys, chimneys and around roof penetrations, so be sure to install roof flashing in these areas prior to the start of the installation.
  • If working on a roof that someone has already installed flashing, make sure they are in good condition and they are not leaking.
  • Always use all shingles from the same bundle before using the next bundle. By doing this, you will avoid having different colors on the roof within the same area.
  • When possible asphalt shingles shall be installed over a plywood or OSB roof deck.
  • Avoid using shingles that are 4" or shorter at the rakes or in the valley. For better results, try to use full-size shingles going into a closed valley, as this can eliminate nailing too close to the centerline.
  • Ridge cap shingles should be attached with two nails each. Typically, 1-3/4" to 2" long nails are used on the ridge.
  • The preferred attachment nail shall be galvanized steel or corrosion resistant roofing nails. Be sure to verify this against building code requirements and recommendations from the manufacturer. Not all nails can be used with any asphalt shingle.
  • At a minimum, asphalt shingles can be attached with just four nails per each one, but if installing in an area prone to high winds, 6 nails should be used per shingle.
  • Asphalt shingles have a nailing line, depicting the area over which nails shall be placed. To reduce the wind lift forces acting over the shingle, do not nail them too high. However, if you nail them too low, nails can become then the weakest part of the installation.
  • Never nail through the sealant strip of the shingle as it might affect the water flow over the roof.
  • Protect shingles from the weather when stored at the job site. Do not store near steam pipes, radiators, etc.
  • Make sure that all fasteners penetrate at least 3 ⁄4" into the wood deck or completely through the sheathing. 
  • A good idea that will save you money and time is to install shingles over existing shingles. However, do not go more than two layers deep. If you are doing this, make sure that waterproof underlayment must need to be installed.
  • Aluminum flashings for asphalt shingles are recommended. These flashings shall be least 0.019” thick. 
  • Valleys should always receive a 24″ wide ice and water barrier installed in the entire length of the valley.
  • Cut Shingle panels to length and notch where they fit into the valley section. Shingle valley caps can be installed by snapping or sliding into place.
  • Save the tabs that you cut off starter shingles for use as a vertical front wall base flashing cover. 
  • It is recommended to use shingles with a reinforced nailing strip area. These strips will increase wind uplift resistance up to 110 mph. As a general guide, a minimum of four No. 9 1-1/2” hex head screws must be used when shingles are installed in high wind areas.