Useful Tips: Installing Asphalt Shingles

So you’ve decided to try your hand at roofing. Awesome! Before you get started, please take a few minutes to go over the main steps involved in the process and a few things to look out for.

This article gives an overview of the important points to consider when installing shingles. For detailed instructions please check our installation guide (EAST / WEST).

Step 1: Get Ready

Before you start, make sure you have all the tools and equipment needed to properly install your BP asphalt shingles – listed below.

Tools required to install asphalt shingles:

  • Roofer’s hatchet or pneumatic nail gun
  • Utility knife, for cutting felts and roofing roll
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Tin snips, for cutting metal flashing and shingles
  • Square shovel, for removing old shingles
  • Caulking gun
  • Notched trowel 

Material required for the installation of asphalt shingles:

  • Shingles
  • Galvanized roofing nails of appropriate length
  • Asphalt plastic cement
  • Eave protection (smooth or slate surface roofing roll)
  • Underlayment 
  • Valley and flashing treatment (smooth or slate surface roofing roll)
  • Roof ventilators

Step 2: Determine the slope and ventilation requirements of the roof


In order to determine the slope of the roof, simply place a ruler perpendicular to a staright level on the 30.5 cm (12 in) mark. The distance measured on the ruler between the roof and the level corresponds to the slope of the roof.
Refer to the diagram above for a detailed representation of the instructions.

  • Low slopes are slopes between 5 cm (2 in) and 10 cm (4 in): installing an eave protection and an underlayment is mandatory.
  • Standard slopes are slopes between 10 cm (4 in) and 20 cm (8 in): installing an eave protection is mandatory while installing an underlayment is recommended.
  • Strong slopes and sloping ceilings have a slope of over 20 cm (8 in): installing an eave protection and an underlayment is recommended.

WARNING: Asphalt shingles must never be installed on roofs where the slope is less than 5 cm (2 in) in installation.

Another important factor to consider before proceeding with the installation: ventilation!
All roof structures must have vents to allow air to flow through. This is done in order to prevent the accumulation of moisture-laden air under the roof support. Required ratio is 1/300 for standard-sloped roofs.

In the case of low-sloped roofs and cathedral ceilings, the required ventilation ratio is at least 1/150. The ventilation holes should be distributed as follows: 55% in the lower part of the roof (in the soffits) to allow the entry of air, and 45% in the upper part so that the air can come out.

For more details on proper ventilation, please read our installation guide (EAST / WEST).

Step 3: Have at it!

Installing a roof consists of installing the following components, in order:

  1. Eave Protection
  2. Underlayment
  3. Starter Shingles
  4. Asphalt Shingles
  5. Hip and Ridge

Above all, never compromise on safety!

Like any construction work, installing shingles can be dangerous. In order to avoid unfortunate accidents, make sure you respect the following rules:

  • Falling is the primary, and most obvious, danger. If walking on the roof is difficult, it’s probably because the slope is too steep for you to do your roofing work safely.
  • Wearing a well-anchored safety harness is essential to prevent falls.
  • Avoid working on a ladder. Use a platform or scaffolding instead. They will ensure your stability while you work.
  • To avoid electrocution, keep your ladder and all metal objects away from electrical wire and make sure you never touch these wires.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment: protective glasses, work gloves, work shoes or boots with rubber soles and steel toes, long-sleeved work shirt or sweater, etc.

You have now gathered all the tools and all the necessary equipment and are ready to go on your roof, equipped with the necessary information to optimally install your shingles.

Are you really ready?

Not quite. Before you start, here is some more information to further prepare you:

  • Self-adhesive shingles have adhesive tape that must be exposed to a temperature high enough to be activated. If the weather is too cool during installation, shingles should be glued manually by placing a small dab of plastic asphalt cement under each shingle.
  • On very steep roofs, use six nails per shingle rather than four, and make sure you are nailing in the middle of the central double lamination.
  • Do not remove protective tape from the back of shingles. The purpose of this tape is to prevent shingles from sticking together inside a bundle. It does not affect shingle installation or efficiency.
  • If you are installing new shingles over old shingles, make sure that the weight of the roof does not exceed load capacities of the structure.

There you have it! Our roofing guidelines! You are now ready to get up on that roof and start working! However, if you prefer to entrust your work to a professional, click HERE to check our network of certified experts.