Wood shingle application (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Wood Roof Shingle & Wood Shake Roof Installation Specifications

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Wood shingle & wood shake roof installation specifications:

This wood roof article describes the slope and exposure requirements for wood shake or wood shingle roofs, and provides detailed instructions on how and where to nail or fasten wood shingles/shakes on roofs.

We discuss the following: Nailing schedule for wood shingles/shakes. What types of nails or staples are used with wood shakes or wood shingles? What is the proper nailing pattern for wood shingle or wood shake roofs. Wood shingle exposure length table. Notes on side-lap wood shingle roofs.

Our page top sketch of wood shingle roof installation details is provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Slope and Exposure Tables for Wood Shake & Shingle Roofs

Improperly set wood shingle roof (C) Daniel Friedman[Click to enlarge any image]


Recommended exposures for shakes and shingles on roofs are shown in Tables 2-13 and 2-14.

- Adapted/paraphrased with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, chapter on BEST ROOFING PRACTICES:

Wood shingle head lap in a good installation exposes no more than 1/3 of the shingle to the weather. The head laps are 6", 7", or 9" respectively for 16", 18" or 24" long shingles respectively. More details are

Wood Roof Shingle Exposure Specifications

Shingle exposures for wood roofs: the maximum weather exposure for wood shakes or wood shingles depends on the shingle size and the slope or pitch of the roof.

Allowable shingle exposure may also vary by the shingle grade - something that you might infer by visual inspection of the shingles, matching against wood shingle grade definitions, or if a shingle identification label can be located.

Roof Slope or Pitch

Maximum Wood Shingle Exposure on Roofs

Grade No. 1 Blue Label Shingles
Grade No. 2 Red Label Shingles
Grade No. 3 Black Label Shingles
Shingle Length
Shingle Length
Shingle Length
16" 18" 24" 16" 18" 24" 16" 18" 24"
3/12 - 4/12 3 3/4" 4 1/4" 5 3/4" 3 1/2" 4" 5 1/2" 3" 3 1/2" 5"
4/12 & steeper 5" 5 1/2" 7 1/2" 4" 4 1/2" 6 1/2" 3 1/2" 4" 5 1/2"

Exposure specifications for wood shakes are detailed at WOOD ROOF SHAKES INSTALLATION.

Wood Roofing Shingle Specifications & How are Wood Shingles Nailed onto a Roof?

Wood shingle application (C) Carson Dunlop AssociatesWood roof shingles are typically 16", 18" or 24" in length and up to 13" in width (but limited to 8" in width in some building codes).

Carson Dunlop's sketch (left) illustrates the typical wood roof shingle application pattern.

The shingles are 4/10" to 1/2" in thickness, and wood shingles are installed with a 5" exposure (16" shingle length), 5 1/2" exposure (18" shingle length), or 7 1/2" exposure (24" wood shingle length).

The typical life of a wood shingle roof is 30-40 years, but life expectancy varies considerably depending on how the shingles were installed as well as on the pitch of the roof (its slope), and its sun and weather exposure. (Too much sun dries out the shingles leading to splitting, and too much shade may keep the shingles too damp, leading to rot.)

Shingle quality and shingle treatments (for example with preservatives or with protection against photoxidation) are important life factors as well. Wood shingles are installed on roofs with a slope of 6" in 12" for best performance but may be on a slope as low as 4/12.

Wood shingle nails need to be long enough to penetrate 1/2" (3/4" for the UBC) into the roof wood decking or nailing boards. The diamond-shaped nail tip itself has no holding power, just the roofing nail shank. So if you see shingle nails protruding through a plywood roof deck, that is not an error.

Nails or Staples for Wood Shingles

Nail specifications for wood shingles may vary by wood species; using western red cedar as an example, nails are to be corrosion resistant hot dipped galvanized, stainless steel, aluminum, or copper

In dry climates, good quality electrogalvanized staples, conforming to ASTM A641, are satisfactory according to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau, but from our field experience we prefer nails.

Also see additional warnings about using roof shingle staples in asphalt shingle roof jobs at ASPHALT SHINGLE STAPLE vs NAIL.

Do not use blued steel or copper fasteners with cedar shakes or cedar shingles.

Wood shingle nailing pattern: in most applications only two nails are used per shingle, in order to permit movement without splitting as the shingle expands and contracts during changes in its moisture level. Keep nails about 3/4" to 1" (1" is for the U.B. Code), away from the side edges of the shingles and 1 1/2" (2" for UBC) above the butt line of the following course.

According to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau, fasteners should be driven flush with the shake or shingle top surface, but no so deeply that the head crushes the wood.

For added details about proper wood shingle or wood shake roof installation, perhaps the most authoritative source of wood shingle and wood shake information is from the Western Red Cedar Shingle & Shake Bureau (now the Cedar and Shake Shingle Bureau, since not only western red cedar is used for roof shingles).

Eaves Flashing Details for Wood Shingle & Shake Roofs

As stated in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction (printed text) chapter BEST ROOFING PRACTICES:

Apply eaves flashing to either spaced or solid sheathing in regions with an average daily temperature of less than 25°F (under the IRC) or in other areas prone to ice and snow buildup.

The eaves flashing should extend up the roof to a point 24 inches inside the building. Where eaves flashing is required with spaced sheathing, install solid sheathing along the bottom section of the roof to support the eaves flashing.

Wood Shingle & Shake Nailing Guidelines

Table 2-15: Wood shingle or shake nails (C) J Wiley, S BlissContinuing from from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:

Fastener Specifications for Wood Shingle & Shake Roofs: Nails, Staples

All nails should be either stainless steel (type 304 or 316), hot-dipped galvanized, or aluminum. Staples should be either stainless steel or aluminum. Galvanized staples will not last the life of the roof.

Table at left - Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction

[Click to enlarge any image]

Treated wood roof shingles may require stainless steel or other special fasteners. Consult with the treatment company for recommendations. Stainless steel is also the first choice in coastal environments.

Figure 2-50: wood shingle nailing pattern (C) J Wiley, S Bliss

Wood Shingle Installation Specifications

Whether installed over solid sheathing or spaced sheathing, follow these guidelines:

Wood Shake Roof Installation Specifications: Felt Interlay or Felt Underlayment

Details for installing wood shake roofs are at WOOD ROOF SHAKES INSTALLATION.

Details about felt underlayment requirements and wood shingle or shake course interlayment are provided at WOOD ROOF SHEATHING, UNDERLAYMENT.

- Adapted/paraphrased with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, chapter on BEST ROOFING PRACTICES:

Side-lap Wood Shingle Roofs

See "Fabricating and Installing Side-Lap Roof Shingles in Eastern Pennsylvania", James Houston & John N. Fugelso.
Quoting from that article:

In order to restore some of Pennsylvania’s historic buildings, the authors are recovering a lost trade practice.

Over the past decade of working on side-lap-shingle roofs, the authors have observed many earlier attempts by others to make the process of replicating these roofs faster and less expensive.

These attempts have included substituting materials, sawing and planing shingles rather than riving them to speed the manufacturing process, and adding other materials between courses to reinforce the roofing system.

All of these attempts have saved money and time in the short term but have failed to perform long enough to realize the savings.


Continue reading at WOOD ROOF FLASHING DETAILS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.




Suggested citation for this web page

WOOD ROOF INSTALLATION SPECS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about wood shingle and wood shake roofs: installation, inspection, troubleshooting, maintenance, & replacement.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman