Home roofs require a mix between proper insulation and a good appearance. People have been achieving that for a long time using the conventional 3-tab shingles, which are basic asphalt roof coverages.
However, dimensional shingles started appearing around the 70s, offering a much better appearance to the roof with the same water insulation properties. The best thing about them is that the installation process isn’t all that different.
Read on to learn more about dimensional shingles, how you can assemble them yourself, and which experts to reach out to if you need professional help.
What Are Dimensional Shingles?
Dimensional shingles, sometimes known as 3D or laminated shingles, are regular asphalt shingles but with two layers of shingle material.
Dimensional shingles offer the same insulation capabilities as regular 3-tap shingles. The only difference they have is their aesthetic value.
These bonded shingle material layers give the illusion that you have actual concrete coverings over your roof for a fraction of the price.
To date, dimensional shingles cost around 20% more than their 3-tap counterparts. Their average lifetime ranges between 25–30 years, and higher-end models can last up to 50 years with proper maintenance.
Pros and Cons of Dimensional Shingles
- Much better aesthetic appeal than 3-tap shingles
- Longer lifespan compared to 3-tap shingles
- They can fit on any roof that regular shingles can fit on
- They do a great job of hiding any roof structural deformities
- They’re more expensive than regular shingles
- The design often contains notches and cracks which, without proper maintenance, could result in mold or mildew
How to Install Dimensional Shingles
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install your dimensional shingles:
1. Get the Proper Tools
The tools you need are simple and easy to gather. Besides your having your shingles of choice, you’ll need the following:
- A shingle remover (required if you are replacing old shingles with newer ones)
- Roof flashing which acts as a framework for your shingles and prevents water from going underneath them
- A tin snip to cut the flashing
- A roofing hammer to remove and replace shingles easily
- Galvanized steel roofing nails which are typically 1–1 ¾ inches in length
- A roofing felt, which is a layer of protective material installed under the shingles
- A shingle cutter/carpet knife which is used for cutting shingles to size
- Some chalk that you’ll use to mark your roof to ensure the shingle rows are straight and evenly spaced
- A waterproof sealant to apply under the shingles to help prevent wind and water damage
2. Install Your Flashing and Seal It
We’ll assume that you’ve already removed any old shingles and cleaned your roof and gutters thoroughly, removing dirt, nails, or debris. The first thing you need to do after that is to install the flashing all around your roof.
This is a straightforward procedure. Just measure your roof, cut the flashing, adapt it around the edges of your roof, then securely nail it down.
Afterward, use your waterproof sealing all over the flashing. This acts as your rubber ring that’ll prevent water seepage.
3. Install your Underlayment
Lay down roofing felt all over the roof and secure it down with the nails.
4. Make a Guide Using Chalk
The measurements of your singles will decide the layering you’ll apply on your roof. For example, if your shingle cuttings are 36 inches high, then you’ll need to mark your roofing felt vertically every 36 inches.
We recommend using one of those metal flashings as your drawing ruler. It’s also helpful to have two people on this job to ensure that all horizontal markings are parallel to each other.
5. Make the Shingle Pyramid
To avoid discovering a mistake later in your work when you’re almost done, start by making a shingle pyramid.
In short, you’ll install the base shingle in the lower left corner of your roof and hammer it down without cutting any piece of it. Then, you’ll cut off eight inches of the next piece and place it over the base piece of the pyramid to build it up.
In the next piece, you’ll cut 16 inches instead. Keep subtracting eight inches with every shingle until you make the pyramid appearance.
Note: don’t discard the small pieces you cut off. They will help you later on while covering the roof ridge.
In the next step, we’ll show you how that pyramid-like appearance can make you discover any measurement mistakes early.
6. Install a Horizontal Shingle Line at the Base of the Pyramid
Now that your pyramid is complete, you’d want to return to that base and keep installing horizontal shingles until you cover the entire width of your roof.
So, you now have a full vertical and horizontal extension of shingles on your roof. If you’ve made an error while measuring or marking, the shingles will deviate from the optimum horizontal or vertical path.
This will allow you to quickly and efficiently fix the mistake.
7. Fill in the Blanks
All you have to do now is to keep installing the remaining shingles until your roof is complete. You’ll then be left with the roof ridge, which we’ll discuss in the next step.
8. Cover the Roof Ridge
Bring the pieces that you kept cutting in step #5 and cut them all down to the same measurement as the initial 8-inch piece.
You should end up with multiple 8-inch pieces that you’ll use to transit over the ridge of your roof.
We recommend leaving the roof ridge until you’re done with all other surfaces of your roof. This will prevent any messy layering.
The Bottom Line
Dimensional shingles give you anything that regular shingles give, but they beautify your roof even more. They may be a bit more expensive than 3-tap shingles, but they can fit on just about any roof.
Installation is also quite simple. Just prepare your roof, install the flashings, apply the sealant, do some measurements, and follow a specific pattern to cut and install the shingles.