Contractors learn about installing shingles from a variety of sources, including on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs, manufacturer-sponsored seminars and educational opportunities at industry trade shows.

Manufacturers are an excellent resource for contractors looking for application advice. TAMKO Building Products Inc. details installation methods designed to help reduce waste at the jobsite and make application quicker and easier.

Contractors learn about installing shingles from a variety of sources, including on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs, manufacturer-sponsored seminars and educational opportunities at industry trade shows. Many roofing contractors utilize their own ideas when installing residential shingles, while others learn about new technology from trade publications, industry associations, manufacturers, distributors and even the competition - it’s just some tips are more useful than others.

Jim Chorak is an Owens Corning “Preferred Contractor” with George’s Roofing in Elyria, Ohio. He said the company frowns on taking shortcuts in the installation process and flashing details “are never cheated on.”

Erasmo Fuentes, CARE Eastern Region Bilingual Training Manager, teaches GAF Certified Contractors the finer points of shingle installation at the GAF Savannah, Ga. shingle manufacturing plant.

“We have been using a synthetic felt paper for well over six years now and have cut our costs down on accidental leaking when a thunderstorm comes in,” said Chorak, who has been in the roofing industry for 39 years. “Old organic felts are not nearly as strong when they get wet.”

George’s Roofing does not flash any chimneys with aluminum; instead they grind out all mortar joints and line the chimneys with ice guard and double caulk chimney flashings.

“We love installing the new Duration shingle by Owens Corning,” he said. “It just came on the marketplace in early 2007, and quickly became my No. 1 seller in just a few months.”

Chorak said since the advent of the “Snow Proof” ridge vent back in the 1990s, George’s Roofing has never installed a roof without a proper ridge vent.

“We always cut out the decking during the tear-off process so no sawdust is left on the roof surface,” he said. “Soffit venting is always considered, and I am still a believer in power fans along with ridge venting.”

Chorak is also proud that they always follow OSHA regulations and use proper fall protection systems to make each job safe. He notes the company is a full-service contractor that can always be reached at the office during normal business hours. “We are not a cell phone and a pickup company,” he said. “After 70 years in the roofing business, we truly understand that we are as good as our last customer.”

GAF Senior National Bilingual trainer, John Arellano, trains a group of Spanish-speaking professionals on how to install shingles on a roof.

Certified Contractor Program

At GAF-Elk, Chris Mooney, Director of Customer Training and Director of CARE® (Center For The Advancement of Roofing Excellence), said through its Certified Contractor Program, Master Elite-level contractors install a roof system that is inspected by GAF-Elk’s Roof Protection Services Team for a special warranty.

“This is the largest field inspection division in the roofing industry,” Mooney said. “These 50 full-time quality assurance representatives simply inspect more roofs than anyone in the business.”

Mooney suggested some details that many contractors skip. They include:

Right: TAMKO Building Products Inc. provides several application tips in the company’s literature, including the Heritage Shingle Course Application Method, which includes a unique “3 shingle/2 cut/5 course/no waste method” that provides a random pattern with less cutting and no waste.

  • Extend shingles over drip edge at eaves 1/4 inch. “This basically extends the roof out away from the house,” Mooney said. “Many speed-based installers will say, ‘One-quarter? What difference does that make?’ Our inspectors found that many leaks in through a home’s siding and windows happened because water was running off the roof directly into homes. This 1/4 inch can make all the difference in those instances.”
  • Make sure capping matches shingles. “This is possibly the biggest rip-off in roofing,” Mooney said. “Consumers buy the look and warranty of a 30-year lifetime warranted shingle, and speed-based installers install a 20-year cap to save a few bucks. Real pros always install a complete roof, right to the ridge.”
  • Use precut starters. “These time-saving starters already have the sealant strip aligned with the edges of the roof,” Mooney said. “This is a rare instance where speed and quality go together.”

Application Tips

At TAMKO Building Products Inc., several installation tips are provided in the company’s published application instructions and printed materials.

Neil Robinson, Creative Director of Marketing, said TAMKO has been producing asphalt shingles since 1944 when it first began producing three-tab shingles, organic-based felts and roll roofing products.

TAMKO offers a full line of residential and commercial roofing products, including Heritage laminated asphalt shingles, MetalWorks steel shingles, Lamarite composite shingles, Moisture Guard Plus self-adhering underlayment, and Awaplan SBS modified.

“TAMKO strives to identify and promote application methods and product features that reduce waste, enhance performance, and make application faster and easier for the contractor,” Robinson said.

Application methods like the Heritage Shingle Course Application Method, Heritage Flip Application Method, and Heritage Valley Application Method can all be used to help reduce waste and make application quicker and easier.

“Reducing material waste is even more important in today’s business environment due to the costs and shortage or materials, increased freight costs in getting material to the job, costs to haul away wasted material and landfill charges,” he said. “And with today’s labor shortages, smart contractors can use these methods to reduce installation time.”

Many shingle course application methods call for the shingle to hang over the rake edge in various proportions, and the edges are then cut off and usually drop to the ground into the homeowner’s flower garden as waste. According to Robinson, TAMKO’s Heritage Shingle Course Application Method includes a unique “3 shingle/2 cut/5 course/no waste method” that provides a random laying pattern with less cutting and no waste.

After installing the underlayment and starter course shingles, the installer begins the Heritage shingle application by starting the first course with a full-size shingle and overhanging the rake edge 1/4 inch. The next step is to cut 93/4 inches from a full shingle to form a shingle 29 inches long.

“Use this to start the second course,” Robinson said. “Cut a 23-inch long shingle to start the third course. Use the remaining 153/4-inch piece of shingle to start the fourth course and use the remaining 93/4-inch piece to begin the fifth course. Continue up the rake in as many rows as necessary using the same formula as outlined above.”

“The Heritage application method uses 100 percent of the first three shingles in its shingle course application method with no waste,” he continued. “Other methods call for large portions of the shingle to be cut off, which usually results in this material being trimmed off and wasted, which will later need to be picked up at the end of the day and will end up in the landfill.”

Consistent Installation

At Jim Fisher Roofing & Construction Inc. of Sherwood, Ore., co-owners Michael Pender and Michael Hampton said the company aims for consistent quality in shingle installation. 

“We strive to raise a higher standard throughout the roofing industry,” Pender said. “We strive to respond to all customers needs: big or small. We have roofed both doghouses and mansions. Our salespeople are project managers. They sell the job, start the job, check the job during the progress, and are responsible for the quality inspection. So customer concerns do not get lost between the sale and the project.”

Jim Fisher Roofing provides extensive safety training for all new employees. “We meet weekly to discuss and train in relevant safety and production issues,” Pender said. “We do extensive safety training with new employees. They are paired up with a seasoned employee, and there is usually a meeting between the new employee and the foreman identifying roles and responsibilities. We also do on-site and follow-up training for employees.”

Jim Fisher Roofing values integrity. “We are dedicated to doing as we say and following through,” Pender said. “If there is a problem on a job, it is priority one to correct the problem.”

In Oregon, Jim Fisher Roofing deals with a lot of houses with stone and brick placed directly on the roof. “We are big on educating and working with builders to identify these areas before the roof goes on, so that we can have a stone/brick counter flashing detail installed,” Pender said. “In 20 or 30 years when the roof will be replaced the rock directly on the roof is going to create problems.”

During tear-off projects, reviewing the current ventilation system is a must. “We find with a lot of homes that the ventilation is inadequate,” Pender said. “Often vaulted ceiling areas were never properly vented to begin with. On new construction projects, walking the job with the builder before the roof goes on to check for proper ventilation can save future problems.”

As an example of Jim Fisher Roofing’s commitment, one project in Oregon was featured on ABC’s “Extreme Home Makeover.”

“The best part was having 25 employees working together with floodlights to start and finish this roof in record time,” Pender said. “We have a great team atmosphere here. And I love working next to people that enjoy their jobs and take pride in the workmanship.”

And that’s not all Jim Fisher Roofing takes into account, including this one final tip. “Keep the quality up, listen to homeowners’ concerns, and meet the foreman on the jobsites at the beginning of the project,” Pender concluded. “Communicate with builders; get to know the framers, plumbers, and siders. Work together to make a great home.”

Shingle Applicator's Manual

At CertainTeed, senior marketing manager Jay Butch said his company publishes the Shingle Applicator’s Manual, which Butch calls “the most comprehensive roofing installation manual available.”

“CertainTeed offers contractors the largest variety of education-based materials to help them with sales, installation and business training, including Making Business Better seminars, advisory councils, meaningful credentials, and the Business Resources Catalog,” Butch said. “Utilizing the good-better-best sales approach as detailed in CT’s Shingle Technology Manual has been proven time and again over the years to deliver improved financial results.”

Training Tips

Most contractors have training tip manuals or training teams to help the process of installation. GAF-Elk has a full time Training Team for roofing installations. The seven-person team trains 15,000 roofing professionals every year in both English and Spanish.

According to Chris Mooney, GAF-Elk focuses on two areas when training installers:

1. Always give a ‘why’ with a ‘what.’ The construction industry is full of installation instructions that just tell installers what to do, Mooney said, such as, “Install the nail in the nail guide line.” “Any intelligent, self-made roofer would say, ‘OK, but why?’” said Mooney. “Most instructions end right there. The CARE program always trains by saying, ‘Install the nail in the nail guide line so that the nail has maximum wind resistance over the entire shingle.”

2. Focus on the most common mistakes. “It makes roofing easier to digest, breaking major information down to what goes wrong most often,” Mooney said. “These methods have helped thousands of GAF-Elk trained roofing installers avoid major headaches.”

According to Mooney, contractors should explain to customers what the most common mistakes are. “Our quality assurance reps created a top mistakes list based on several thousand roof inspections,” Mooney said. “These inspections were of GAF installations and others. Most were warranty claims called in on installations from non GAF-Elk Certified Contractors.”

Here is a sampling of some of the most common mistakes made by installers, according to Mooney:

  • Ridge caps installed do not match warranty of shingle installed.
  • High nailing.
  • Valleys not fully sealed.
  • Valley shingle corners not clipped.
  • Exposed fasteners at pipe flashings.
  • Leak barriers not installed at all recommended locations.
  • Lack of adequate intake ventilation.
  • Ridge vent not run the full length of the ridgeline.
  • Starter courses installed without sealant aligned to roof edges.
  • No cricket behind chimneys.

Final Considerations

Most contractors agree safety is the most important consideration of all. The experts we spoke with agree that starting each day with a safety meeting is the way to go.

“Who cares how good the roof is if someone got hurt getting it done?” Mooney said.

Other suggestions from Mooney include:

  • Never stop learning. “If the last time you took a class on roofing was when you started get back into some classes. Materials, methods and technology are always changing.”
  • Never drop quality for speed. “Why rush while building something that will last 30 to 50 or more years? I hate the trend of same-day roofs being advertised.”
  • Take time to teach the next generation that safety and quality are the foundation of good craftsmanship. “Teach them the pride of doing the job right. Teach them that this is a fantastic, steady industry with a brilliant future that will take care of them if they take care of it.”