How to Install 3-Tab Roof Shingles
Learn the techniques and workflow for laying the most common type of shingle, the 3-tab asphalt shingle.
The 3-tab asphalt shingle, also called a composition shingle or fiberglass shingle, is the most common type of roofing shingle. Other composition shingles, such as architectural and random cutouts, are installed using most of the same techniques. Check with your roofing dealer to learn about any installation differences.
Three-tab shingles are usually 36 inches long; each tab is 12 inches. They are designed to be installed with a 5-inch reveal. Some roofers install shingles so the cutout lines describe a slight angle as you look from the bottom to the top of the roof. However, most people prefer the cutout lines to be aligned so they make straight vertical lines.
This step-by-step tutorial shows how to install 3-tab roof shingles using the racking method. A pneumatic nail gun (starting at $119, The Home Depot) makes quick work of fastening shingles. You can install shingles by hand using a roofing hatchet, but the work will go more slowly.
With one or two helpers, you'll be able to shingle a 1,500-square-foot roof in about two days. Before you begin, make sure you're comfortable measuring, laying out a job, driving nails, and cutting with a knife. Prep the roof by installing underlayment, drip edge, and valley flashing as needed.