How to Repair and Replace Wood Shingles

July 27, 2015

What to know before you repair or replace a wooden shingle

Venturing onto the roof to repair a damaged wooden shingle can seem like a daunting task.  These tips will show you the easiest way to get the job done yourself.

How to Repair and Replace Wood Shingles

1. Nailing damaged shingles or shakes

If a wood shingle or shake has split or is curling up, you may be able to nail it back into place.

  • Drill a pilot hole, then drive in roofing nails to make it sit flat.
  • Cover the nail head with roofing cement.
  • If a shingle has developed a hole — as sometimes happens when a knot works loose — slide a piece of metal flashing under the shingle so that it extends at least 10 centimetres (four inches) above the hole.

2. Removing a shingle or shake

  1. To remove a badly worn wood shingle or shake, first split it along the grain using a hammer and chisel. Slide the pieces out by hand. You can hold upper shingles up with wedges of wood while you work.
  2. Do not try to remove the nails that held the old shingle; doing this will only break the shingle above. Instead, use a hacksaw blade to cut the nails flush to the surface. Cut a new shingle so that there will be a 0.5-centimetre (1/4-inch) gap on each side.
  3. Apply roofing cement to the back of the new shingle and to the top of the underlying shingles. Slide the shingle into place; you may need to tap it all the way in with a piece of scrap wood and a hammer at its base.

3. Treating shingles

Wood shingles and shakes are susceptible to damage from fungus and moss growth, especially in humid areas.

  • Moss, algae and mildew can be scraped off or removed with a powerful spray from a garden hose.
  • Prevent them from coming back by spraying on a coat of fungicide.
  • After the roof has been cleaned with a solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water, have a roofer install zinc strips near the ridge of the roof.  Zinc ions, washed down by rain, discourage the growth of fungi.

4. Ladder safety

  • Anytime you're working on your roof or gutters, be sure that the ladder is securely footed on the ground at least a quarter of its length away from the house and that it extends at least 0.6 metres (two feet) above the eaves for maximum stability.
  • Always wear slip-resistant shoes. Never work on a wet or cold roof — it's dangerous for you and can harm the roof.
  • Don't use an aluminum ladder near electrical wires; use a wooden or fibreglass ladder instead.

Following these steps will help you get the job done safely.

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