How to replace damaged shingles

July 28, 2015

Clapboard and shingles both give a house a lovely and cozy exterior, but can both be damaged over time. Following this how-to instruction will have your home looking as good as new in no time. 

How to replace damaged shingles

The difference between shakes and shingles

  • Some houses are faced with cedar or redwood shakes or shingles.
  • The main difference between the two is shingles are smooth-cut on both sides, and shakes are left rough on one side.
  • Generally, neither is painted, but sometimes they are treated with semi-transparent or even solid-colour stains.

How to replace a damaged shingle

  • Use a hammer and a wood chisel to split the damaged shingle in several places, being careful not to damage the underlying shingles. Then pull out all the pieces.
  • Slip the blade of a mini-hacksaw under the overlapping shingle and cut off the nails that held the damaged shingle.
  • Measure and saw a replacement shingle's width to fit, allowing a three millimetre (1/8 inch) gap between the new shingle and the shingles on each side.
  • Slide the new shingle under the overlapping shingles to about one centimetre (1/2 inch) below its final position.
  • At one centimetre (1/2 inch) in from each side edge, drive in three rust-resistant shingle nails at a slightly upward angle.
  • Tap the shingle into place with a hammer and a block of scrap wood.
  • The nails will straighten and be hidden under the overlapping shingles.


  • Clapboard, also called lap siding, bevel siding, or weatherboard, comes in a variety of widths and styles.
  • The boards are nailed in overlapping rows to the sheathing behind.
  • If you need to replace a badly damaged section of board, remove the damaged section and take it to a lumberyard to find the closest match.
  • All clapboards are installed and replaced in the same way.

Replacing clapboard

  • Use a combination square to mark cut lines on the section of clapboard you're replacing.
  • Gently lift the bottom edge of the damaged board using a pry bar resting on a wood scrap.
  • Drive shims under the raised edge to separate the damaged board from the board below it.
  • Using a wood scrap to protect the board below, cut along the cut lines with a backsaw.
  • Gently lift the bottom edge of the board overlapping the damaged one, and wedge shims under it. Use a keyhole saw with the teeth pointed outward to complete the cuts at the top of the damaged board.
  • With the shims still in place, slip the blade of a mini-hacksaw under the damaged board, feel for the nails, and cut through them. (If a nail head is exposed, just pull the nail.) Remove the damaged board.
  • Cut the replacement board to size, and treat its sawed edges with wood preservative. Then tap the board into place with a hammer and a piece of scrap wood.
  • Pre-drill nail holes and secure the board with galvanized siding nails. The nails should go through the lower part of the replacement board and into the sheathing above the top of the clapboard below it. (Never nail through the underlying course of siding because this will impede the ability of the wood to expand and contract and may result in cracks that allow moisture to seep in.)
  • Caulk or putty over the nail holes and the seams.
  • Then sand, prime and paint the new board to match.
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