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Repairing Wood Shingles | Replacing Wood Shingles

Repairing Wood Shingles | Replacing Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are a beautiful and insular roofing material -- a practical and common roof option for many homeowners (as long as you don't live in a fire-prone area, like most of the American southwest). Wood shingles even offer three layers of protection from the elements, making them a smart choice for cold-climate residents.

With time and exposure, of course, shingles can crack and split. In most cases, that's an annoyance, but if a split shingle occurs atop a roof joint, it could lead to a leaky roof. Prompt attention is critical if you want to spare yourself any further damage or expense.

Even the smallest of roof repairs should be considered an emergency repair -- left untreated, a leak can cause serious water damage and compromise your home's structural integrity. Being proactive rather than reactive is the way to go here; repair cracked or broken wood shingles as soon as you can. Prep for the Repair

As with any project, the first step is to assemble tools and materials. (You can get replacement shingles at a lumberyard or home improvement store.)

Be sure to take every necessary safety precaution. Working on a roof is inherently dangerous; there's no need to make matters worse. If the roof is damp or wet, it could make for a very unsafe situation. Wet wood shingles are very slippery! Wait for another opportunity. Ladders automatically seem to introduce another hazard. Position your ladder properly and be cautious. The bottom of an extension ladder should be placed so that it is about a quarter the distance from the ground to the edge of the roof, and the top should extend several feet above the edge of the roof. If you are using a roof ladder, hook the edge over the roof and use a rope to anchor the top to something fixed and solid, such as a tree trunk. Be smart and safe about this. A ladder fall isn't pleasant. Replace the Wood Shingles Once you're up on the roof and ready to repair your shingles, use a hammer and chisel (or a flat head screwdriver in a pinch) to break the cracked or split shingles into pieces. Once it's been shattered, you can then move the individual pieces of crumbled shingle back and forth until you can easily pull them out. Saw off the nails that had attached the shingle to the roof (you can use a shingle ripper). How big should the replacement shingle be? Measure the gap and cut a replacement shingle about 3/8" narrower than your measurement. Shingles expand when they get wet. If you don't do this, the expanding replacement shingle might just cause its neighbors to break, and then you'll be back where you started. Take a tapping tool and gently tap the new shingle into place until it hits the nails; stop tapping when a dent appears at the nail. After you determine how much further the shingle has to go before it's properly aligned, remove the shingle and cut slots equal to this measurement at each nail dent. The last step is to tap the shingle in to within a 1/2" of its final position. Drive two shingle nails into the shingle at a 45-degree angle, and then use a nail set to finish nailing it into place. With a hammer and a wood block, drive the shingle up that last 1/2". Roofing cement on the exposed nail heads will help prevent water damage.

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