Cedar Shingle Installation

motherof3March 29, 2009

Help! My husband and I hired very reputable painters to re-install cedar shingles on one side of our house and also to paint the exterior of our house. I am now regretting our decision to have these painters install the cedar shingles. The painters do general handyman work (carpentry, remodels), but after researching cedar shingle installs, I am getting very nervous that this may be above their skill level. Contracts have been signed and they begin work next week. Are there any questions or things I need to stay on top of to make sure the shingles are installed properly? Please help - I am losing sleep over this!

Thanks and please do not chastise me for hiring them!

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Starter course typically has two runs of shingles. You dont want to see seams lined up one course above the other. Proper underlayments/flashings installed coinciding with shingle install. You dont want to see too wide a shingle used as well as too narrow. Any protrusions such as spiquots or electrical outlets need to be addressed properly.

There are many variables to consider. Ask to see a past project where they have installed cedar shingles and go take a look, asking the home owner how they feel about this outfit. If they have nothing to hide and are proud of their work, they will give you addresses to check out. Since you have signed a contract already, I dont know what recourse you have if you discover any negatives about their work. Should have been done that before hand, but could'ves, should'ves is something we can all say is a mistake without foresight.

Here is a link that might be useful: sidewall shingle install

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:22AM
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sierraeast - Thanks for the advice. They took down half of the old shingles today. Our house is a 1970s colonial. I'm surprised that there wasn't any house wrap underneath the shingles, just plywood and backerboard. Should wrap be installed before the new shingles go up? The painter took a sample of the old shingle and said that he would purchase the same shingles to put up. He said that it was a high quality shingle, but he didn't mention anything about the different grades, etc. I know that there are different grades of red cedar shingles. I just hope he purchases the better ones. My husband says I worry too much. I hope he's right.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 4:11PM
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Hi motherof3, Back in the mid eighties I worked on Cape Cod shingling roofs and walls with cedar, red on roofs, white on walls, We always used #1 Grade shingle for the simple reason that they were clear grained and typically cut square at the manufacturer, so it was less labor intensive than having to square them up onsite. If your crew is competent, they can work with a lesser grade shingle and turn out a nice project. The most important factor regarding wrap or no wrap is that they flash everything properly. In the cape cod days, some were using house wrap, some were just laying it over the plywood sheathing, but in all cases, corners, windows, door opemings,etc were all flashed properly. We used 30# saturated felt as an underlayment. Wraps such as tyvek were just coming into play. My advice would be to use 30# saturated felt, but again, the most important thing is having everything flashed properly.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 9:43PM
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Thank you so much for your response sierraeast. On the side of the house we are re-shingling there are 2 windows and the 2 garage doors. Since they are just replacing the shingles, I am assuming that they will just keep the existing flashing. I see flashing over the garage doors. I don't recall if there were any on the windows. They are wrapping the house as I type. I saw that they purchased the red cedar shingles from Certigrade. I don't see the grade level on the box, but I feel better after reading your response. I really regret our decision to go with these painters. I should have just used them for the painting. I don't know how our minds were sidetracked. I'll keep you updated! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Here in CT we still use red on roofs and white on walls, just like sierra's old CC days.

And we still prefer felt instead of housewraps, One thing we do though is we never install cedar directly over sheathing...we'll use horizontal furring strips and fasten the shingles to those. That gives a bit of an air space between the cedar and the sheathing, which gives a longer lasting installation.

Stainless fasteners too. You can get wood staining when you combine cedar with non-stainless fasteners.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 9:40PM
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MongoCT - Hello neighbor - I am also in CT. Thanks for the advice on the furring strips. They plan to begin installing the shingles tomorrow. I just hope they are planning to use the furring strips. It will be difficult for me to tell them how to do their jobs. What will happen to the shingles if they don't use the furring strips and install directly on the house wrap? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:58PM
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A few shingles were installed today. I have read that the spacing between each shingle should be 1/8". It looks like the shingles have been installed flush to each other with no spacing at all. Is this going to cause buckling when the shingles expand/contract with the weather?

I plan to ask the installers tomorrow. I am hoping to get some advice on this before I speak to them about it. Only a few shingles were put up today because I questioned the nails they were using and held up the work for most of the day. Yikes!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 6:59PM
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In your area the shingles must be gapped as they will swell when they get moisture penetration. You might want to print off pages 4-7 of the link I posted above and run it by your installers. That website doesn't show the furring strip method which is best in order for the shingles to 'breathe" in behind them. We didn't use the furring strip method back in the old days, but I can see where it should be standard practice. Hopefully Mongo will fill you in with further details. He already pointed out something very important concerning fasteners that I missed, Stainless stell ring shank or at least double hot dipped galvanized ring shanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: maze siding nails

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 7:37PM
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Stainless steel fasteners where they are not exposed seems unnecessary and so does furring for shingles on a wall. The weather resistant barrier should be #30 asphalt felt or Typar house wrap since these materials more resistant to the surfactants in cedar (of course, sufficient water must penetrate the shingles for this to be an issue). If you are worried about the back side of the shingles you should have them factory dipped in stain. What will determine the life of the shingles is how they are spaced, how well fungi will grow on them, and how often they are cleaned and restained. I would not paint a wood shingle.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 8:08AM
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Not using furring strips has been the standard and has been succesfull for a long time. I cant speak for the homes where shingles were applied without an underlayment,(wrap, felt), but on an old inn that obviously had been reshingled with underlayment that I helped remodel, there was literally no rot where we stripped the old shingles. This was a late 1700's inn that had been sheathed with 1 x 8's and felt as an underlayment, so obviously it was reshingled before plywood came out. The point being is that it held up fine but the old shingles had run their life, so we replaced all around the exterior. We "skinned" over the 1x8's with exterior grade 1/2" plywood and covered with 30# felt before shingling. All the windows were replaced and flashed as well. The furring method is the ultimate, imo, because not only does it allow for breathing, but if you stagger the strips with drainage ports at the butt ends of the strips, it allows for a moisture build up to escape by running down and out the bottom course. Screen wire or as advised by someone else on one of these forums, ridgevent filter material, needs to cover the gap at the base to keep critters/bugs out of the air spaces.

Shingling over an underlayment directly to the substrate is fine,. As far as gapping, if the shingles were out in a rain and got saturated, then minimizing the gap at install will allow the shingle to shrink when it dries out and obtain the proper gap for when they get wet and swell again after install. If the shingles were dry upon install, then again, in your area they need to be gapped 1/8" to a 1/4".

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:17PM
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Thanks everyone for your input - The installer is now using extra thick coated galvanzined ring shank nails. They look so much skinnier than the roofing nails he was using before. The roofing nails didn't have the rings though.

Also, I read that when the nails are driven into the shingle, it should be flush against the wood. It should not be indented or sticking out at all. The nail gun is indenting the wood a bit. Does this matter? I pointed it out to him and even printed the installation guide, but he said it was fine.

He is not spacing the shingles at all. He is using #1 grade cedar shingles and I read that it needs the 1/8" spacing, but my husband has told me to be quiet. I have been driving around looking at cedar shingle home and see tight installs on new construction and spaced ones on older homes. My husband doesn't want me to say anything to the installer in case we have problems down the road, he can't say that I forced him to space the shingles and he's not responsible....also worried about that with the nails now.

I am so stressed about this project...actually sick to my stomach. My husband is glad he hasn't been home the last few days! I really appreciate all your help.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 2:09PM
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Siding nails should be "box" type with small heads and should not crush the surface of the wood. If he is using an adjustable gun there should not be a problem but if he doesn't install shingles for a living it is unlikely that owns the right equipment.

Are the shingles resquared and rebutted? Are they kiln dried?

Shingle spacing varies according to a shingleâÂÂs moisture content, shape, and the weather conditions. Regular shingles contain 20 to 25% moisture, and kiln-dried or factory-stained shingles contain about 10 to 12% moisture.

Regular shingles will shrink after installation especially if installed in wet weather. Kiln-dried and factory-stained shingles will expand especially if installed in dry weather. Therefore you should normally space regular shingles about 1/16 in. and kiln dried shingles about 1/8 to 3/16 in.

Installing shingles tight together might work if the shingles have a high moisture content and the weather is humid. Some people actually wet the shingles so they can install them without gaps.

I supervised a job where one side of the house was shingled with no gaps before I arrived and a few weeks later it rained and many of the shingles bowed up and had to be replaced on that side of the house.

Any standard specification for shingle installation would cover these issues and it is essential to include such a document in the contract so you will have legal recourse if the work is substandard. Make sure the contractor understands that he will have to replace any shingles that bow. Put a hose on them if necessary. I would hold back a portion of the contract price until after I was satisfied.

The painter might be counting on the stain to keep the shingles from expanding but that would be a foolish and unnecessary gamble.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:01AM
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If they are using Tyvek with "bare wood" shingles over the tyvek, then really should use furring strips. You don't want Tyvek in direct contact with cedar.

If not using furring strips, that's why the recommendation for tar paper. There's no adverse reaction when tar paper and cedar come into contact with one another.

The furring strips allow better drying, which means the shingles lay flatter, less likelihood of cupping. It also result in a longer life for any finish applied, as well as a longer life for the shingles themselves.

If they are going to be stained, we dip them prior to installation so all sides get treated.

As far as gapping them on installation, as the others have mentioned it depends on the moisture content of the shingles you are installing.

I live on the CT coast, so in my area we're prone to high winds and rain traveling sideways. So I always shingle over furring strips and always use stainless fasteners.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:48AM
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Cedar doesn't have an adverse reaction with weather barriers but it does break down the surface tension of water which allows water to pass through otherwise waterproof membranes like non-woven, non-perforated house wraps (Tyvek, Typar & WeatherSmart). Typar performs a bit better than Tyvek when in contact with cedar. The woven/perforated wraps leak so fast that the effect of contact with cedar is irrelevant.

It is difficult to compare the good plastic wraps with asphalt saturated building felt with regard to contact with cedar because the felt is so much less water resistant to start with. There are those who say this is a good feature and those who say it is not. It's unlikely the issue will never be settled.

Here is a link that might be useful: weather barrier info.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:08PM
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THANK YOU SierraEast, MongoCT and MightyAnvil! I just returned from vacation and wanted to make sure you knew how much your feedback was appreciated. Before I left, the painters were finished installing the shingles on the first floor. It looks very good. I am hoping they did a quality, long lasting job. We were away for over 2 weeks. During that time it rained quite a bit. We haven't had any leaking or bowing of the shingles, knock on wood. This week they start the 2nd floor. I am hoping the plywood behind the old shingles are in good shape. Wish me luck.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:48AM
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This is awful.

It is 1 year after our cedar shingle installation and we have buckling shingles! My original post last year shows how concerned I was with our installers. SierraEast, MongoCT and MightyAnvil provided such great advice. I tried my best to tell the installers that a gap is needed between each shingle, even showed them the installation guidelines for the shingles. The installers assured me that the shingles should be installed tight. I emailed a carpenter friend of mine about the installation and he said that he installs shingles tight also. So I sucked it up and prayed that the shingles would hold up.

Well, after several months I saw a little waviness. We just had a huge rain/wind storm and now we are left with 3 large buckling areas. My question is how can this be fixed? Do I need to remove all the shingles from that side of the house or can I just remove the part that has buckled? Now that its 1 year later, should I expect more buckling? We installed last spring. Should I wait until the summer for repairs (after the shingles expand from the rain and dry up from the heat in the summer)?

Please help! Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 10:59PM
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