How to Repair or Replace Damaged Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are among the best protection a homeowner can provide to the roof over his or her head, and properly installed wood shingles can provide a full three layers of protection from the elements. The problem, of course, is what to do when one or more of these wood shingles cracks or splits. If you are unlucky enough to have the crack or split occur over a roof joint, you may well have a leak on your hand. Repairing those shingles and the leaking roof promptly is essential if you are to prevent further damage from occurring.

Any needed repair to a roof should be considered an emergency repair, since a even a small roof leak, left untreated, can lead to serious water damage or even pose a threat to the structural integrity of the home. Repairing any cracked or broken wood shingles right away is one of the easiest ways to avoid such problems.

Get Ready for the Repair

The first step in making a repair to any roof is to gather all the equipment you will need, and to take all the necessary safety precautions that are required when working on and around a roof. Never work on a wet roof, for instance, especially a wood shingled roof. Those wood shingles can become very slippery in damp weather.

Before working on any roof, it is important to position the ladder properly. Begin by positioning an extension ladder so that the bottom of the ladder is about one quarter the distance from the ground to the edge of the roof. The top of the extension ladder should extend several feet above the edge of the roof.

A roof ladder should be hooked over the edge of the roof, and a rope used to secure the top of the ladder to a solid anchor point, such as a tree or deck railing on the opposite side of the house.

Replacing the Wood Shingles

The steps needed to replace any cracked, broken or otherwise damaged wood shingles are as follows:

  1. Use a hammer and chisel to split the cracked or broken wood shingle into several pieces. After the shingle has been broken up, move the split pieces of shingle back and forth until you can pull them out easily. Saw off any nails that had been used to secure the shingle in place.

  2. Measure the width of the gap you will need to fill. Cut a replacement wood shingle approximately 3/8" narrower than the measurement. This will allow room for expansion as the shingles get wet.

  3. Using a tapping tool, gently tap the new wood shingle into place until it hits the nails. You will be able to tell when to stop tapping when a dent appears at the nail. Then measure how much further the shingle has to go to align with the rest of the shingles on the roof. Pull the shingle out and cut slots equal to this measurement at each dent, using a utility knife or hand saw.

  4. Finally, tap the shingle to within half an inch of its desired position. Then drive two shingle nails into the new shingle at a 45 degree angle. Lastly, use a nail set to complete nailing the new wood shingle into place. Then drive the replacement shingle up a half inch, using a hammer and a wood block.