How to Shingle Roof – The Racking Method
Running your shingles straight up the roof in columns, is called “racking”. It has been around as long as there have been three-tabs, which were designed to be lined up nice and straight. When they’re not, they look just awful and you don’t have to be an expert to notice it. Even your neighbor, (who doesn’t know anything about roofing), knows those tabs are supposed to be straight!
Racking is the best way to keep them straight. When a shingle is out of alignment, it is easy to spot and can be corrected on the very next column.
But manufacturers’ don’t like racking. This goes back to the days when quality control of the granule colors wasn’t as good as it is now. Slight variations in shading were less apparent when the stair step method was used, so that is what they specified then, and they still do,
Although racking is a common trade practice, it occasionally becomes an issue. Since the manufacturers’ installation instructions specify the stair step method, some inspectors demand that they be installed that way. That can be a real problem after the new roof is installed!
Your best bet is check first with your roofing inspector first to see if you can rack them, or just use the stair-step method.
How to Shingle Roof – The Stair Step Method
The problem is that it’s tough to keep three-tabs in alignment using the stair step method. Perhaps the best solution is to upgrade to an architectural shingle. Sometimes called “dimensional” or “laminated”, these were designed to be installed with the stair step method. There is no fussy vertical alignment to contend with.
And when you consider that architectural shingles are typically larger than the three-tab variety, they are much faster to install. They also last longer because they don’t have the side gaps, which are the “Achilles Heal” of three-tabs. That’s the first place they wear out.
But just because there is no fussy vertical alignment with the architectural type, it doesn’t mean you can install them any which way. Follow the directions on the wrapper when creating the steps rather than making your cuts in a random manner. And be sure to watch your nail placement. You don’t want any seams to fall within three inches of the nails in the course below.