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Wood Cedar Roofing

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Cedar shingle roofs are durable and attractive when installed with care.

Cedar shingle or shake roofing is attractive, durable, adds insulation value to a home and is within the skills of a do-it-yourselfer with experience. Doing the required preparation saves money and prolongs the life of the roof. Accurate measuring makes it simple to estimate how many shingles to buy, a good thing to know when working with an expensive roofing material like cedar. Using a moisture barrier between the roof and the shingles prevents rot and water leaks.



Determine the slope of the roof by viewing the gable end of the building, estimating the distance between the midline of the eaves and the roof's peak and then the length of the roof edge. Divide the midline number by the edge number to arrive at the roof's slope, expressed either as a proportion such as 1:3 or in degrees.


Calculate the roof's total surface area including all dormers and gables. Add another five percent to the figure to allow for slight measurement errors and broken shingles. One square of 4-inch shingle exposure will cover 80 square feet, one of 5-inch covers 100 square feet and one square of 6-inch shingle exposure covers 120 square feet.


Begin the physical preparation by choosing a day when rain isn't expected. Remove the existing shingles. Cover the roof planks with sheets of wallboard with a moisture barrier, placing the foam insulation side next to the roof. Nail the wood laths to the wallboard using the shingler's hatchet's blunt end or a hammer.

Applying the Shingles


Wear a nail holder tied around your waist to avoid dropped nails and holes poked in pockets. Apply shingles starting at the bottom edge and moving upward using the shingler's hammer and nails. Place the shingles with the thicker edge at the bottom and use two nails, four inches from the bottom and one inch from each side.


Nail each shingle about one fourth of an inch from its neighbor. Line up each shingle carefully with the one next to it. Trim off any excess partial-width shingles at the end of the row using the shingler's hatchet or a handheld cutting tool. Apply two thicknesses of shingles on the ends. Use the chalk to draw a straight line on the finished row of shingles.


Use the chalk line as a guide when beginning the second row of shingles. Nail this row so it overlaps the one below it. Alternate the cut edges so they do not align with the ones below.


Continue to the roof's ridge. Shingle the other side the same way. Cover the ridgetop with two layers of shingles.

Things You Will Need Shingler's hatchet Hammer (optional)Wallboard with moisture barrier and foam insulation 1-inch-by-3-inch wood lath Galvanized 14.5-gauge 1 1/4-inch nails Nail holder (optional)Cedar shingles or shakes Handheld cutting tool Chalk Safety glasses Warnings Wear a safety harness when climbing on a roof to prevent serious falls and injuries.Wear shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles. Spikes aren't necessary and can damage roof surfaces. Use safety glasses when working with power tools.About the Author

Susan Kerr began her writing career as a food columnist in 1987 before moving to business journalism as a reporter and managing editor in the Penn State area. Since then, Kerr has contributed content to military-related magazines, not-for-profit websites and other online media. In addition, she writes a weekly column for her hometown newspaper

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Kerr, Susan. "Wood Cedar Roofing." Home Guides | SF Gate, Accessed 03 April 2019.

Kerr, Susan. (n.d.). Wood Cedar Roofing. Home Guides | SF Gate. Retrieved from

Kerr, Susan. "Wood Cedar Roofing" accessed April 03, 2019.

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