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Are Asphalt Shingles Easy to Install?

Asphalt roofing shingles can protect your home from wind, snow, hail, and the elements when installed correctly. However, when they're fastened improperly, they leave your home vulnerable to moisture intrusion, storm damage, and many other costly conditions.

Fortunately, asphalt roofing shingles aren't challenging to install. However, shingle installation does require skill, practice, and a thorough knowledge of proper nail driving techniques. Read through the specific roofing shingle installation guidelines below to prepare for your upcoming roof replacement!

What Makes a Good Roofing Nail?

Nails are critical to "get right" when installing asphalt roofing shingles. When selecting nails, keep the following in mind:


Roofing nails can be made of aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized (zinc-coated) steel, or copper. Regardless of which material you choose, it’s important to select corrosion-resistant nails to extend the lifespan of your roofing system.

Galvanized steel nails are the best option for preventing rust. Zinc is corrosion-resistant, so this durable coating deters rust from forming on your roofing system. These nails are commonly used in humid climates or coastal climates with salty air. Copper never disintegrates, but it does develop a green film (patina) as time passes, so you may want to steer clear of copper nails.

Fastener Size

Roofing nails must have a 12-gauge shank and a 3/8-inch head per the International Building Code. However, larger nails are always permitted.


When you nail your roofing shingles, they need to be fastened securely—but not too tightly—for optimal performance. We exclusively install Owens-Corning® asphalt roofing shingles at American Way Exteriors. The manufacturer requires all nails to penetrate the roof decking by a minimum of 3/4 inch or through the decking at a minimum of 1/8 inch.

What Is a Nail Zone—and Why Is It Important?

Finding the correct spot to nail your roofing shingles can be tricky since the requirements vary with each roofing manufacturer. Generally speaking, nails should be placed no closer than one inch from the shingle's edge.

Most asphalt roofing shingles come with a nail zone—a durable, engineered fabric strip on each shingle. Nail zones make it easier to determine where to hammer each nail. Still, they also provide other benefits, like contributing to your roofing system's wind, water, and storm damage resistance.

Owens-Corning offers roofing shingles with double-layer and triple-layer nail zone protection. These shingles have excellent holding power and ensure your shingles won’t rip, tear, or blow away during windy, stormy conditions.

Tips for Installing Your Asphalt Roofing Shingles Correctly

Now that you know the type of nails you need for your roofing shingles (and where to nail them), here are some tips for installing your asphalt roofing shingles correctly:

Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

First and foremost, it's crucial to follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer when installing asphalt roofing shingles. This ensures your roofing system will be under warranty, so if anything goes wrong, it can be quickly repaired at no cost to you.

Install starter shingles and underlayment.

Before adding the asphalt shingles to your roofing system, applying the starter shingles and underlayment is crucial for top-notch performance.

Starter shingles prevent wind from getting beneath your shingles and uplifting your roofing system. Underlayment protects your decking from moisture damage if water seeps beneath your asphalt shingles during a storm.

Since roofing systems with a steep slope shed water efficiently, they only need one layer of underlayment. However, low-slope roofs usually require two layers of underlayment for adequate protection.

Use the right tools.

Roofing nails should be installed using a hammer (by hand) or a nail gun.

However, it's crucial to ensure your nail gun is appropriately adjusted to prevent driving your nails too far (or not far enough) into the roof decking. If the nails aren't added to your shingles correctly, your roof may experience shingle blow-off, seal failure, and nail corrosion.

Fix nailing mistakes immediately.

If you do make a nailing mistake (which isn't uncommon!), it's essential to fix the error immediately to ensure you don't overlook it later.

If you're using a nail gun and the shingle hasn't penetrated the decking enough, you can use a hammer to finish the job. If a nail is overdriven or crooked, the nail should be removed, and the hole filled in with asphalt roofing cement. Then, a new nail should be driven into the asphalt shingle near the filled-in hole. If the shingle is severely damaged from the mistake, it should be replaced with a new one.

Follow the correct nail fastening pattern.

Most manufacturers, including Owens-Corning, require a four-nail fastening pattern for asphalt roofing shingles to deliver optimal performance. If you have a roofing system with a steep slope or live in a region prone to high winds, your manufacturer or local building department may even require a six-nail fastening pattern.

Pay extra attention to the valleys, hips, and ridges.

Shingle roofing systems are more likely to leak at the valleys, hips, and ridges. Make sure you're paying extra attention to installing the roofing shingles properly in these places, and always use the proper flashing to prevent water leaks in the future.

Count on American Way Exteriors to Install Your Asphalt Roofing Shingles Correctly

While it may be challenging for an inexperienced homeowner to complete a "do-it-yourself" asphalt shingle installation correctly, it's just another day on the job for an experienced local roofing company like American Way Exteriors.

We use Owens-Corning asphalt shingles to provide the beauty, durability, and longevity you desire in a roofing system. When you work with us, we go above and beyond the manufacturer's guidelines to protect your warranty—they even send referrals to us!

Learn more about our asphalt shingle services, and schedule a consultation with American Way Exteriors when you’re ready to upgrade your home with Owens-Corning roofing shingles!

Read Our Rave Reviews

American Way Exteriors has earned numerous positive reviews for our outstanding service. Read about our customers’ pleasant experiences working with us, then contact us today to learn how we can improve your home with new siding and roofing.

"Jake Preston is amazing! We had wind damage to our roof. Jake assisted us through every step. Making sure we had no unanswered questions. His professionalism and kindness is unmatched. The crew was respectful and detailed oriented. Thank you Jake and American Way!"

Michelle G.

"Replaced the existing siding on my home. Contact and price were discussed thoroughly during the initial discussions. Workers arrived at the scheduled time and were professional in the removal, new installation, cleanup, and onsite conduct. Communication between supervisors, installers and myself was on a daily basis and any issues were addressed immediately. Would not hesitate to use this company again or recommend them."

Beecher R.

"We chose American Way Exteriors to replace our old vinyl siding with Hardie board siding and trim. Throughout the entire process we found the team to be very professional and receptive to our questions about the project. They were constantly in touch with us about when work would start, what to expect each day of the project, and followed up to see if we had concerns. As the project began it was very apparent our house had suffered from poor installation by the builder years ago. The American Way team worked to fix the problems, keeping us well informed along the way. We could not be happier with the finished project both cosmetically and structurally. This is definitely a company we highly recommend exterior projects!"

Kathy G.

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