The Ultimate DIY Guide to Roof Installation

Master DIY roofing in Asheville with our detailed guide. Learn shingling, safety tips, tool and material lists for intermediate-level projects
The Ultimate DIY Guide to Roof Installation

Here’s how you can nail it right and save a ton of cash!


Starting Up Your DIY Roofing Project in Asheville

Duration: Multiple days

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: Varies


Learn how to shingle a house from scratch to finish! We’ve provided clear instructions, detailed images, and drawings for each step of your roofing journey.


Gather These Tools

  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Caulk gun
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Extension ladder
  • Roof harness
  • Roofing nailer
  • Scaffolding
  • Stapler
  • Straightedge
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Work gloves

Gather These Materials

  • #15 or #30 Felt underlayment
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Drip edge
  • Hook blades
  • Roofing nails
  • Sealant
  • Self-adhesive waterproof underlayment (“ice and water shield”)
  • Staples
  • Step and dormer flashing
  • Valley flashing
  • Vent flashing

Is DIY Roofing Right for You?

Roofing is not a walk in the park – it’s demanding and requires you to be pretty fit and okay with heights. Test your comfort by climbing a ladder onto your roof. If it feels too risky, consider hiring Lane Roofing & Restoration professionals.


Prepping the Ground

If you’re all set for a DIY roofing challenge, let’s start! To avoid heavy lifting, have your roofing supplier deliver the shingles onto the roof, distributing the load evenly. However, ensure your roof can bear the weight, especially if you still have to tear off old shingles.


Getting Started

First, get a permit if needed, then clear the roof safely. Nail the drip edge flashing flush along the eave. This protects your roof from windblown heavy rain and snow and ice dams that could cause leakage into your house. To guard against this, apply a self-adhesive waterproof underlayment (“ice and water shield”).


Laying the Underlayment

Wrap the rest of the roof with No. 15 asphalt-saturated felt underlayment. Overlap each layer with the one below it by at least 2 in. After this, the nail drip edge along the rakes (sides of the roof) on top of the underlayment.


Shingling Your Roof

Subsequently, identify the midpoint of the roof at both the apex and the eave, and then draw a vertical chalk line. Start shingling from this line, working left and right towards the rakes. Follow the instructions on the shingle package for the best results.


Removing Old Shingles

Before installing new flashing and underlayment:

  1. Tear off the old roof completely.
  2. Be careful to remove or pound all old nails flat to prevent damaging your new shingles.
  3. If you have items around the house that could get damaged, move them out of the way.


Installing the Drip Edge

The metal drip edge imparts a polished appearance to your roof while also averting any potential curling of the shingles over the edge. Once the underlayment is in place, the next step is to install the drip edge. It should be affixed securely to the decking through the top using roofing nails.


Safety Tips for Roofing

  1. Working on roofs can be dangerous, so safety should be your top priority. Here are some tips to keep you safe:
  2. Leave steep and high roof work to professionals.
  3. A fall protection kit is worth investing in.
  4. Wet roofs are slippery. You must wear shoes with soft rubber soles.
  5. Keep the roof clean of debris.
  6. Everyone on the ground should wear a hard hat.
  7. Be cautious while handling and disposing of tools.
  8. Be careful with ropes and extension cords.
  9. Make sure your ladder is sturdy and can carry your weight.
  10. It would be advisable to establish a scaffolding structure to install the drip edge and the initial few layers.


Step 1: Apply the Underlayment

Begin by shielding the roof from potential ice dams and rainstorms using a self-adhesive ice-and-water underlayment. As you move out the underlayment, remove the top portion of the plastic backing.


Step 2: Remove the Remaining Backing

Ensure that the underlayment is lying smooth before nailing the top edge. Following this, remove the bottom half of the backing.


Step 3: Affix the Underlayment to the Roof

Proceed to the second course similarly to the first, ensuring proper overlap based on the guidelines on the underlayment. The underlayment, commonly called “ice-and-water” underlayment, provides a seal against water seepage caused by ice dams or windblown rain, which can leak into the house.


The underlayment comes with a plastic backing to prevent it from sticking to itself. After aligning the roll’s lower edge with the drip edge’s exterior, peel back the uppermost support on the roll and nail the top corner of the underlayment to the decking. Continue to unroll across the decking, ensuring the material is flat and straight.


Depending on the roof’s pitch, you may be able to roll out long sections at once, but be careful on steeper roofs to prevent slippage. The underlayment will stick to clean decking on warm days without additional fasteners. However, colder days may require staples or nails to secure it.


In severe climates, installing the underlayment at least two ft. from exterior walls may be necessary, which means using two rows for two ft. eaves. For any overlaps, consult your local building regulations.


Step 4: Install Felt Paper on the Roof

After installing the underlayment, cover the rest of the roof with roofing felt paper. Begin each course by driving a group of staples close together, then straighten out the row before adding more staples.


Step 5: Apply Adequate Staples

Ensure to place staples at most 12 in. apart. Insufficiently stapled paper may tear and potentially lead to falls.


Step 6: Overlap at the Ridge

Run the felt paper over the peak and let it overlap with the other side. Repeat this process when reaching the peak from the opposite side of the roof.


Felt paper offers additional protection by shedding water that gets under the shingles and increasing the roof’s fire rating. Begin each row by rolling out a short paper section and securing it with grouped staples. Aim to get a staple in every square foot of the paper.


On reaching the top, drape the paper over the peak to create a watertight ridge. This stage might require an inspection, so consult with local building authorities.


Step 7: Ensure Valleys are Waterproof

For the valleys, install a self-stick underlayment under the metal flashing. If more than one flashing is required, ensure they are correctly aligned before nailing them down.


Step 8: Apply Flashing Over the Peak

In each crease, trim the flashing back to the peak. Subsequently, bend the flashing over the apex and cloak the cut ends with self-adhesive underlayment. Due to their ability to channel a substantial volume of water, valleys necessitate enhanced protection. When dealing with lengthy valleys, it is recommended to partition the underlayment into distinct sections.


Finish the felt paper installation, overlapping with the underlayment. Be careful not to damage the underlayment while trimming the felt paper. Avoid nailing your shingles too close to the valley’s center and ensure the right exposure for the valley.


Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Ensure not to work on your roof in below-freezing temperatures or temperatures above 90 degrees. Extreme temperatures can interfere with the adhesive properties of the shingles and underlayment.


Step 9: Install Starter Shingles

Begin the first row of shingles, ensuring they hang about 1/2 in. past the drip edge. Position the adhesive strip towards the bottom and face up. Place the nails 2 to 3 in. up from the bottom of the eave. Starter shingles prevent water from running into the seams on the first row and onto the underlayment.


Some seasoned roofers also prefer to install starter shingles on the gable ends, though it’s not a common requirement. This provides a more polished appearance. Ensure the gable-end starter shingles extend 1/2 inch past the rip edge and overlay the starter shingle on the eave by 2 to 3 inches.


Purchasing or Renting Equipment?

Unless your roofing project is exceptionally small, you’ll likely need a pneumatic roofing nailer. These tools can cost anywhere from $100 to $300. Renting a nailer is approximately $35 per day or $90 per week, so if you already have a compressor, it’s more cost-effective to purchase rather than rent. Renting a compressor costs about as much as renting a nailer. If you don’t already own a compressor and plan to complete your project within a week, renting is a more reasonable choice.


A less expensive model should suffice if you purchase a roofing nailer for a one-time project. These models may not be as robust as the premium models professionals use. However, keep your purchase to yourself, as word about your new tool may lead to requests for assistance with roofing projects from friends and neighbors.


Step 10: Install Shingles

Adhering to the manufacturer’s nailing instructions is vital, as improper nailing is a leading cause of roof failures during storms. The location and frequency of your nailing will depend on your area’s wind speeds and the roof’s pitch.


Step 11: Trim Shingles After Overlapping

For neat, straight lines, overlap shingles beyond the roof’s edge. Then, using a chalk line, trim them off with a hook blade fitted to your utility knife. If the overhang is more than a foot, trim some off and use the rest elsewhere.


Hook Blade Usage

Hook blades are specifically designed for cutting shingles. They fit into any standard utility knife similarly to straight blades. Although laying shingles isn’t straightforward, it’s arguably the simplest part of roofing a house.


Steps to Follow When Laying Shingles

  • Position the base of the first row of shingles to align with the bottom edge of the starter row, ensuring that the seams are offset.
  • Once the initial row is finished, determine the reveal, which is the part of the shingle not overlapped by the one above it. Standard reveals typically range between 5 and 6-1/2 inches.
  • Your roofing gun should be equipped with an adjustable guide to assist in maintaining the straightness of the rows. If not available, fashion a block of wood equivalent to your reveal size to act as a measuring tool.
  • Arrange each row in a staggered manner such that the seams do not overlap. Adhere to the stagger pattern as suggested by the shingle manufacturer.
  • Initiate following rows with fragmentary shingles.


Ensure that the last rows are consistent in size on both sides of the ridge. An uneven reveal at the ridge (for example, a 4-inch reveal on one side and a 1-inch reveal on the other) can be very noticeable.


As you approach the ridge, it’s crucial to measure downwards to your shingles at either end of the row. If one side appears closer to the peak than the other, it’s advisable to snap lines for all subsequent rows, gradually enlarging the reveal on one side until the discrepancy is balanced. Bear in mind to only modify any row by a maximum of 3/16 inches.


Each shingle brand has its specific nailing pattern requirement. The pitch of your roof and your area’s wind conditions also determine how many nails to use and where. Most shingles require four to six nails, about 1 inch in from each side, placed so they’re covered at least 1 inch by the shingle above them. The nails should penetrate the decking by at least 3/4 inch. Most professionals use 1-1/4-inch zinc-coated roofing nails.


Ensure the nails are driven straight into the shingle, and adjust your gun or compressor’s setting so the nails pull the shingle tight to the decking but remain flush with the surface. Keep a hammer nearby to handle partially driven nails. Never use staples! Even if offered a stapler with free staples, kindly refuse. Staples lack the holding power of nails; they tend to rust out before the shingles fail, and most manufacturers do not allow staples, so using them would void the warranty.


Upon reaching the ridge, adhere to the same method employed for the felt paper:

  1. Firstly, extend the initial side over the apex, then layer the second over the first.
  2. Utilize a utility knife fitted with hook blades to adjust the shingles to the necessary size.
  3. Ensure to extend the shingles over hip ridges, rakes, and within valleys.


Choosing Between Architectural and Three-Tab Shingles

The shingles illustrated here are frequently referred to as “architectural.” Some varieties of architectural shingles are semi-laminated (comprising two layers), while others are fully laminated, bestowing them with a textured appearance akin to wood shakes. Due to their additional material content, architectural shingles are heavier. Some varieties can resist wind speeds up to 150 mph, doubling the wind rating of many three-tab shingles.


Installation of architectural shingles is relatively straightforward since you are not required to align the tabs vertically. The lifespan is contingent on the quality of the shingle. Both varieties offer warranties for 25 years and 30 years. You can anticipate paying approximately 15 to 20 percent more for standard architectural shingles compared to standard three-tab shingles.


Ensure all the bundles you choose have the same “lot” number on the packaging, indicating they were all produced in the same batch or run. Shingle color can vary noticeably from one batch to another.


Install Step and Dormer Flashing

While it’s possible to reuse existing step flashing and dormer flashing, the best way to ensure a watertight seal is to remove the siding in those areas and install new flashing.


Steps for Flashing Installation

  • Commence by extending self-adhesive underlayment at least 6 inches up the walls. This acts as an extra shield in case water breaches the flashing.
  • Cover the front wall initially, then gradually progress up the sidewall. Ensure the sidewall underlayment overlaps the front wall by roughly 1 inch.
  • Proceed with the shingle installation up to the front wall.
  • Trim a few inches from the vertical section of the dormer flashing, extending the horizontal part beyond the sidewall to the same distance.
  • Secure the dormer flashing to both the wall and the shingles.
  • Make a cut of 1 to 2 inches using a tin snip at the bend in the first step flashing. Apply a bead of sealant on the corner edge of the dormer flashing, then extend that step flashing beyond the dormer flashing to the same distance as your cut.
  • Use your hammer to fold the step flashing around the corner onto the dormer flashing.

Proceed with the placement of the next row of shingles over the initial step flashing. Follow this by covering that row with another step flashing, and repeat the process. Affix the step flashing to the wall, aiming for the top part of the flashing that will be concealed by the subsequent step. Ensure you exercise caution to avoid driving nails through the exposed area of the shingle.


Once all the steps are covered, install a piece of corner flashing over the peak. If you used a full piece of flashing for the corner, apply a bead of sealant under the corner to seal the edge of the flashing to the wall.


Repeat this process for the other side of the dormer, starting at the top and working down.


Step 12: Install the Ridge Vent

Ridge vents come in two types—aluminum or plastic. One size fits all, so you just cut the size you need. The ridge vent is usually sold in 10-foot lengths, so you might have to cut it down to fit your roof.


When installing the ridge vent (or ridge cap), ensure it extends past the peak at each end so the wind can’t blow through the peak. Stick the end caps with roofing cement, then nail them down with your nail gun.


If you’ve installed a continuous ridge vent system, your last task will be to cover the vent slots. The ridge cap shingles are installed just like regular shingles, with one difference: They’re folded over the peak, and you drive nails on both sides.


Make sure you hammer the nails down securely so they don’t pull out in high winds. If the nails start to pull out, it means your nail gun needs more pressure.


Remember, you’ll need two nails on each side of each shingle, so a ridge with 30 cap shingles will need 120 nails. Ensure the nails are long enough to secure the ridge cap shingles through the ridge vent and into the wood decking. Usually, 1-1/2-inch nails will do fine.


Step 13: Install the Ridge Cap Shingles

You’ll install either store-bought or self-made ridge cap shingles on the ridge of the roof. Start at the end of the roof where the prevailing winds blow against the slope (this will prevent wind from lifting the ridge cap shingles). Overlap the ridge cap shingles over each other, making sure to cover the peak of the roof. You’ll use roofing nails to secure these in place.


The last cap, the one closest to the end of the roof, should be installed with the tabs facing the other way so the cement is nearest the peak. Press the shingle down, then tack it in place with two roofing nails. Then lift that last shingle’s tab and spread some roofing cement under it before you tack it down.


Step 14: Clean Up and Final Inspection

After the ridge cap shingles are installed, your new roof is complete. However, the job still needs to be done. You still need to clean up all the debris and conduct a final inspection. If you find any areas that need touch-ups or adjustments, now is the time to take care of them.


Please dispose of all the waste materials and debris according to local waste disposal regulations. Use a large magnet to pick up any nails or other metal objects that have fallen to the ground.


Once everything is clean, take a step back and admire your work. Congratulations, you’ve successfully replaced your roof!


A Note on Safety

Roofing can be risky, and you must take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety. This includes wearing the right protective gear, such as a hard hat and non-slip boots, using safety harnesses and ropes when necessary, and never working on the roof in unfavorable weather conditions. Always obey the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes when installing a new roof.


If you’re uncomfortable with any part of the process, don’t hesitate to hire a professional roofer.


Whether it’s minor roof repair on a home or business or a more extensive roof replacement requiring specialists, we’re here to help. Just get in touch and let us know what you need!