Tips For Faster Shingling - Roofing


I am 18 and in very good shape. As far as physical fitness goes there is no reason I shouldn't be able to keep up with 99% of roofers.
I have been doing construction since I could drive and in that time have probably put on around 15 roofs. But due to lack of experience and knowledge I can't seem to keep up with one of the guys I work with who has a lot more experience but is not as physically fit.
I was just wondering what techniques you guys have found to make shingling faster.
For example: How do you end your rows? Some guys go flush with the drip edge some guys go 3/8 past? Some cut with a utility knife some nail the shingle then cut it with a shingle snip?
What do you guys do as far as chalking lines? How often? Do you chalk all lines before you start or chalk as you go?
How many rows do you start and then take through before finishing them out?
Any tips for nailing them faster?
Where do you keep your stack of shingles while nailing?
Thanks for the tips. I know that I take a lot more than I can give to these forums but I am thankful for your generosity in sharing all your wisdom.

Crooked bass tards

The government offers special priveledges to minority classification contractors. Thats the rules set up, so if I could take advantage of those rules, I certainly would. Not being in that category has never hurt my business, but that is not the type of work I pursue.


I'm a small s corp and let my accountant take care of all the paperwork. To busy working to think about all that legal stuff.

How i do it is i set my starters on the rake and eave straight and with overhangs and then i just cut my shingles once i do 2 courses and know my end measurments. I can keep things perfectly straight by using the alignment tabs from my starter course.

I do it much like you,but I use a 6"offset and overhang about 1 1/2 at the eaves.But here we don't use drip,nobody does.(Thats another debate)As far as other secrets,I keep lots for just me to know.I've taught to many people and then they quit and try to start their own company.Their are many things that only years of experience can teach you.Work smarter,not harder

Why not?

Another B.C boy,how you doing?Do you use it or you just looking to start another debate?

I notice that a lot of the roofers here use a tin box for nails. There is a slot in the bottom for the shanks to fall through so that every nail that you grab is rightside up.

though i do mostly trim and finish carpentry now, i still do a fair amount of roofing. i run a starter across the bottom and up the sides with a 1" overhang, cutting each shingle when it gets to the end i use another shingle as a straight edge to line up with the starter (easy to show, hard to describe). i also run a 45 pattern with all my shingles. i use a five inch reveal. using a 45 pattern you can do a full nail off without having to stop and lift a shingle to hit a blind nail. like grump stated, quality is much better than quantity. i do like him and stack the ridge and then feed off a bundle next to me. you will get faster as you get older, but learn to do it the BEST that you can. These? They do speed up production IMO. Only a bit, but a bit does matter.

No chalk lines. Learn how to shingle right before you go for speed. Learn how to shingle in many positions and both directions, right and left. Shingle in a stair step pattern and cut the shingles as you go, beginning and end. Lay the bundles out 4 feet up and 4 feet apart all over the roof before you start. Get a rythm (sp) on your nailing. Don't try to go fast, get them where they are supposed to be. This is my system and I haven't found anyone who is even close to as fast as us.
Another thing, ask yourself if you are working as hard and eficeintly as you can. If you can honestly answer yourself, you will get better.
I can easily hit 4 square an hour on a walkable pitch if I feel like it.

That looks like the item. I watched 4 guys do a tear-off and reshingle in a day and the nailers were all wearing them. The house is 1750 under air plus a 2 car attached garage.

Figure the house is 20 squares and the garage 7. Any full time shingling crew could get that off and on in a day, around here.

Not as fast as you (not a full-time roofer), - - but everything you say is how I was taught, - - very few or no lines should be necessary, - - stair-step is actually much faster once you learn to lay it out fast. I cut the starters before even getting on the roof, - - the cut-offs go to the other end.
Also, - - as far as hand-nailing, - - never heard of a 'nail-tin', - - should be able to 'fumble' the nails into position (in your other hand) as your nailing off. - - never miss a beat. I prefer to always use 1 1/2's, - - 1 1/4's seem much harder to fumble.

Yes the shingle cut down the middle goes to the other end only on 3 tabs. Confused me at first Tom. I haven't layed 3 tabs in years.

Thanks for the tips. Keep them coming if you have more.

check this out

I do like TOm and MJW...cut all starts first out of the same bundle. This will usually leave you with even water slots if youre paying attention. I snap a line to get the sarter straight, and then for up and overs. Learn to lay them straight. The speed will come. I am not as fast as MJW, but I rarely shingle anymore.

Snapping a line at the bottom is a good idea when using 3tabs or you want to keep them really straight. Most of the houses do not have a straight fascia. I'm sure we have all seen some doozies. hehe

Quantity does not equal quality. I am sure the customer would much prefer the roof take 10 hours instead of 8 but be confident that things wern't rushed and nails were properly placed.
Shingling is all about speed. Practice makes perfect. I've seen some fatsos dance squares around young in shape guys. Why? Because they do it every day for 10 hours a day, for 10 years.
Going flush is bad. There should be some overhang as determined by the shingle manufacturer. Typically 1/2"-1". Some guys like to cut each shingle at the end of a row, some prefer to cut the whole ridge at once. I prefer to cut the whole ridge at Once. I personally feel you get a much straighter line than cutting each shingle one at a time.
Chalk lines every 3 courses of shingles with 3 tabs. If you are highly experienced you can get by not chalking the roof with architecturals, but if you are a rookie you should also chalk your lines with architecturals.
Stacks are usually at the ridge. I will have one bundle directly next to me that I am feeding from, and I drag it with me as I move. When it's empty I grab another bundle. Also while up, make sure your puch is full on nails. No reason to stand up twice, once to get shingles than again to get nails.

No snow yet, so doing good so far.
I do use it and can't imagine not.
So I'm curious.

Fastest way I know of shingles getting applied is to hire a kick a$$ roofer. If it's a guy I know I don't even have to be on the job.

Ice damning isn't an issue here.I've been roofing 20 yrs and have only tore off maybe 3 or 4 roofs with drip edge on.Out of all of the other tear-offs I have done,no rot has occured because of lack of.Its a regional thing 4-sure.If it was needed I would use it.Now if I lived in say..Winterpeg,I would most definetly use it.If it ain't broke,don't fix it.I've done lots of inspected jobs as well,no drip in specs.

Imo rake drip is a waste as well serves no real purpose unless you reroofing something that needs to be concealed. I dont use it on the low end either but at least there it is designed to support the lower edge. I also dont think you need to put ices shield up the rake edges and hips but manufacturers like to promote all of their products.

So when I come next year to replace the soffit and fascia, I am forced to use a sill trim to conceal the top edge of the aluminum fascia. If I happen to put it even just the tiniest bit higher than the edge of the sheathing, chances are the sill will get damaged or ripped off the next time the roof is torn off.
IMO the drip offers just that little extra protection for the exposed edge of the sheathing. Water and driving rain do very funny things sometimes.

seriously, that doesn't make any sense. You have to have drip to cover the plywood edge and to receive any aluminum fascia, how do you hide the edge of the plywood?

Its wierd to me because we dont have exposed sheathing ever. The fascia boards are set flush with the top of the sheathing. And anytime Im doing siding I put a return on my last bend by the shingles that help support that edge.

so you must have a sub-facsia and then another wood fascia? what supports the plywood when it comes into contact with the wood fascia?

i snap my starter course and the the first course and set them perfect. The i just align my exposures with the tabs but i will start eyeballing it right on the cut out. I will also start racking and cutting all the shingles at the end.

All of my tips seem to involve the long way .

Which means I don't have to go back, either to the side of roof I was just on, or the job period.

To me faster shingling encompasses the whole job.

Typically I will spend a great deal of prep time getting prepped...installing all my drip/rake, I&W, felt/underlay, valley metal, chalking starters/valleys, installing starters. Then I will lay out bundles everywhere. Load my pouch with nails, and set it aside close by so I can move quicker with less drag on my body.

If possible then I have a helper passing me shingles, and he better be damn fast (in this instance he is also carying nails for me, a hammer, and a knife). I always carry a knife regardless. One large enough to double for a hammer for the odd proud nail..

If not I just grab and go myself, this is where the layout of shingles is key, so you are moving as little as possible, and moving things out of the way as little as possible. Go Like Mad! Of course not insane because that would mean my nails are not where they need to be. This is crucial, because if your nails are out of line, then you need to do it again, and thats just slow.

Number 1 tip; NEVER LET GO OF THE GUN!!!!! there is a reason they come with gauges...every time you set the gun down is wasted time IMO.

If I can get away with it (not too hot out) I will leave my cuts till later, with the exception being rakes...I could never seem to get a chalk line to work well here. Valleys chalk em later no biggie. Extra thick cuts use snips.

40 bundles of t-loks on an 8/12 in an hour and a half with a helper once, one of my better days as we managed to crack a 100. Now if the profits had went into my pocket on that job instead of the bosses, that would have been great , but being young and dumb money didnt matter, we were manlier ...kinda like the ol how many bundles can you carry up a ladder at once trick. did three...once. Two a number of times, and nowadays I do my damndest to have them delivered rooftop .

All that fast shingling over the years has kinda hooped my knees though. Spinal realignment therapy is next .

I couldn't believe it when I saw a thread I started in september 2006 still going. A lot has happened since then..... I know I got a lot faster roofing!

Chalk one line to start. If right handed start from left side of roof. After yor starter row or starter roll is in place, start with a full shingle from drip edge over..
Next shingle will be stepped 6.5" if using OC or cert.. (IKO need to be stepped 10", they are a larger shingle that means FASTER/ fewer shingles per sq)
A tip when stepping each shingle use guage on bottom of nail gun to keep steps the same. Cut each shingle as you go along drip edge ( tip use a drip edge that has the over hange built in and that has ribs running down drip that can prevent any water from entering)
Always use stair stepping methed, never set your roof gun down, with roof gun in right hand and shingles on left foot(tip- always use a laminate shingle if possible. Yes I know they cost more but they are bigger, that means faster which evens the price out by what you save in labor.)
Place shingle with left hand on nose of gun that is being held on tab of the shingle below, then line up other side of shingle to the shingle to left, then nail 4 nails, and then do it again, and again, and again. After a few hundred thousand times of that you will get fast.
A few other tips put all cuts neatly in a pile, do not toss every piece off roof in to yard that takes time to clean up later.
That's the basics. O ye one more thing- snape a line when you start to get out. The more you do it, the less lines you will need. Depending on who is nailing near you.

ive been roofing 32 yrs ,my best is 36sq handnailed in 8hrs ,70sq with gun in 9hrs partner did 40sq with 1 laborer,and 15sq 2 bundles in 1hr with a passer ,tore off 100sq in 4hrs it just pealed up but its still my record no prepping done just ripped, ive always tried to find in world records fastest shingler but could never find records

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