Installing Wood Shingle Siding

Project: Bob's Shingle Style Home, Episode 4, Part 1

Shingle contractor Chris Clark shows how to assess shingle condition, remove damaged shingles and apply new ones. Bob visits Vancouver, British Columbia, to see how high quality red cedar shingles are made. Greg Rochlin points out needed structural changes to the roof to accommodate the new cathedral ceiling in the third floor family room.

Part 1: Installing Wood Shingle Siding
Bob works with contractor Bob Ryley and carpenter Chris Clark installing new wood-shingle siding. Bob demonstrates a few of the pry bars used to remove the old shingles and the tools used to apply the new.
Part 2: Touring the Waldun Forest Products Shingle Factory
Part 3: Redesigning the Third Floor
This project centers around the remodel of Bob Vila's own gracious Shingle Style home in Cambridge, MA. It's a house with a lot of history and beautiful architectural details, many of which were obliterated in remodels of the 50s and the 70s. On the centennial of the house's construction, Bob gets together the best talents in the business to recreate and renew it to its former glory, making some important modifications along the way that will transform this into a dream house for today.

Also from Bob's Shingle Style Home

Hi. I'm Bob Vila. Welcome home again to our shingled cottage here in Cambridge. Today, we're removing some of those shingles. We're gonna be showing you how to make necessary shingle repairs. This is all happening on the south side of the house.

I'm also taking you on a little trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit the factory where the shingles are cut and manufactured. And we'll be here with Riley. We'll be working on restructuring some of the roof members on the top of this house so that we can build some dormers.

Stick around. It's good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's Home Again.

Okay. Let's get started on the south side of the house. Hi Riley.

Hi Bob.

I see you and Jim are working over here on some brand new shingles. You know, this is such a complicated side wall job. And Greg, our architect, has gone through the entire house -- all four elevations. And on the computer, he's cross-hatched every surface that needs to be re-shingled. And here on the south side, it's all of it except for the area where the three windows are here on the left .

Right, it's quite a bit.

Why so much?

Well, this wall happened to take the brunt of the beating over the years.

Of the weather.

Of the weather and everything.

Yeah, yeah, the condition of the shingles up there is pretty bad.


But can't they be just kind of scraped and repaired and nailed down a little bit to hold them better?

Not really, there was a point in time when perhaps it could but that's already been done and tried and now they're all splitting and they're really brittle. So anything you do to 'em is just going to do more damage.

Well, the other thing he was explaining to me is that we're re-roofing the house, we'll be doing a lot of flashing, repairs and changes to the flashing and you can't do that without actually getting rid of the shingles.

Exactly right, yes.


So, what kind of shingles are we using?

These are the red cedars. They have been rebutted, these are about the best you can get.

And that's important I suppose because the the fact is this a very labor intensive job, replacing all of these shingles, even though we're nailing with a power nailer, right?

We're nailing with a power nailer, but there's so much detail on this house and like I said, it's so labor intensive it makes no sense to use anything but the best shingle you can get your hands on. Yeah, now what about the nailing itself? Isn't it better if you hand nailing it all of this?

Not with these pneumatic nailers they have now. We can use stainless steel.

So these are stainless steel annular ring nails, right?

That's correct.


And that's definitely what you want to use with a red cedar shingle...


...Is a stainless steel.

Yeah, 'cause you know, you. can get a thirty-year life out of something like that. But it's true that we have detail here like the corners, which are not only laced but they flare out.

Flares out, right.

Which is a difficult detail to accomplish. Where can we see a little more of that?

Well we have an existing situation right around the corner here that Chris is getting started in on right now.

Alright let's meet Chris Clark who's heading up the team here, hi Chris.

How ya' doing Bob?

I'm good how are you?

Very good, thank you.

Now, you haven't done any of the removal here yet. Do you start at the bottom or at the top?

No, we start at the bottom, Bob. What happens is if you start it at the top and you try to peel the shingle off that's all you get is one shingle. If you start at the bottom, you loosen the bottom one, and then take, consecutively bring the shingles up. with it so you can get your bar in behind it.

It's a quicker job that way.


I see you've got two or three different types of bars here. Which is the best tool?

Well, we would start with the smaller bar to get in underneath here so that we can get them worked out then I get into a little bit larger bar.

So that you get back away from the work, a little more leverage and don't get into the, into the splinters flying.

This is a tool that really helps you get in underneath and pull a nail, which I've seen slate roofers use, but...

Right. What we do for that is, if we're patching in we only want to remove one or two shingles without damaging everything, we drive that up underneath and hook the nail and then drive it back down and pull the nail without damaging anything.

Exactly. Well, let's give you a hand, and I guess we want to be careful that the bottom not to damage what's ever underneath, creating this flare, right?


Here you go, Riley, here's one for you.


Oh boy this. Look at this. I gotta think that these are original hundred-year old shingles.

I believe they are Bob. We 've cleared a couple of the areas off.

One thing I'm looking at right here is you've go creosote. These were originally

dipped in creosote as a preservative.


Then at some later point in time, they stained over to give it that reddish look.


Then the last coat of paint or stain was gray. I'd say they're almost a hundred years

old and they're really brittle.

Yes they are, they're very brittle.


Here we're looking at the original sheet. of the house, which is almost a century old, and it's tongued and grooved dressed pine, that really tells you something. And originally it was covered with this Rosen Paper, which helped to prevent moisture infiltration and stuff, now we use the house wrap product which I'll give you a hand with here. It spun open, kind of thing, which allows moisture that's inside the house to get out, but keeps cold drafts from penetrating.

Now, in order to create a flare, down here at the bottom we've added a ground that we've built up a little bit with a tapered piece and that wants to be a couple of inches out, and there's another one right here. Now Riley, where do you get started? On the corner?

Definitely , yeah, we want to start on the outside corner here, because we're going to be lacing these shingles together, so it gives us more leeway.

Now when you're lacing them you're not really mitering them. You're just butting them.

Butting them but you're making Making sure that the seams are staggered, as you go up.

And, there's no corner about.


Now, Chris, what are you doing over here?

What I'm doing, is I'm setting a ledger board to my first course in a shingle line. We're going to ultimately end up with two courses of shingle on this bottom side for water proofing purposes. So, I'm just plumbing off of a pre-established mark that I had.

Set this in.

And I've got one more leg is gonna be turn around the corner. So that we can keep going, alright, enough of that.


Okay, so when you handling the Shingles at the corner, do you have to also double them up?

Yes, you need to double then up, so that we create a drip edge, we're going to drop them down about three eighths of an inch.

and allow the, allow the water to run off the bottom edge instead of back. And first we have to take the ledger board and lower it.


OK, so this is hand work in the truest sense of the word in that each shingle has to be shaped, and you're just roughing it out right now with the utility knife. But it has to be shaped to take that flare.

Fortunately you only do that for the first several courses and then you're going straight up the wall.

And now to attach it. We have to trim that down little bit?

Yeah, trim it down a little bit more. Makes it a little easier with the plane.

Yeah, 'cause the final step is to take your little plane.

With my block?

And dress it up.

Now you do the same thing on the opposite side, right?

Correct. We're gonna lay another shingle on top here, as we did that one.

Mark it up the back.

Mark it up the back.

Cut it just like you did. And keep on going and going. See? This works. You're going a great job.

We've got to break for messages and when we come back we're actually going to be showing you how these are made. Stick around. We're on the Frazier River, about forty miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, eh.

And we're going to show you how they make shingles today we're visiting the Walden Forest Products Company and our tour guide today will be Jack Davidson, who's manager of the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau. Hi Jack!

Welcome to British Columbia, Bob!

Thank you very much. Good morning.

This is an impressive place, I mean these logs are very sizable affairs, where do they all come from?

These are logged all up and down the west coast of British Columbia from Washington State all the way up to Alaska.

All the way up to Alaska . And it's certainly not a new industry it's been established for many decades?

It's a very old industry. Most of the mills along the river are second, third generation before them , the Indians used cedars for their long houses.

And they've been shipping them down to California and to Washington as well as, I think since the early part of the 1900's all All the way out to the east coast.

All over the west, all over the United States west coast.

Before we get started on taking a tour of the plant I've got to ask you about this little craft back here. Says Walden One, Vancouver BC, what do you call that boat?

This is what we call a log bronc, it's a West Coast winder, it has the propeller in the middle of the boat, the very center. And it spins around any direction he wants that boat to go.

No wonder the guy has to take Dramamine every morning.

He needs his seat belt on.

Well, why don't we get started with the tour?

Up the hill here.

That is one pretty amazing log. Now, this is a red cedar tree that is how old do you suppose?

This particular log is probably a hundred to two hundred years old. It's starting to rot out in the middle like most Cedar does.

And that would obviously tell us that we're looking at virgin growth. This was material that was not planted or farmed but actual virgin growth Canada, right?


So what we're looking at this situation is essentially a cut-off saw?

This is an eight foot, insert a two tungsten tip cut-off saw.

What is the diameter of that blade?

Eight feet.

Eight foot diameter.


And that man is workin' there all day just haulin' away the cut-offs.

Yeah, his job is to clear the saw.

And he better stay clear of the saw.

Okay so all of these logs will be cut into these what, 18 or 24 inch lengths?

Yes, the hydraulic logs on the stake that the operator in the booth here can adjust depending on the grade of the log.

What the defects are in the log he reads and it is 24 inches block for a stake or for an eighteen inch block and a knot or other defects for the shingles.

And then right behind them the next facing is where the mauling operation happens, right?

It's actually called a pentagraph because of the way it moves around the area.


And it's the hydraulic, it actually cuts the block into sizes that a man can physically lift.

So we're making two types shingles here. One is the classic shake and the other one is the formal three-budded shingle.

Yeah the mauling mill is difficult, the other side is shingles. This is the shapeline.

This gentlemen here is the tuberman, and hes making shake blanks, which are just one inch flip pieces of board.

These blanks will then be sawn on the resaw diagonally, making two shapes from each blank.


And then from there where do they go? Is that it? They'll be edge trimmed on the clipper saw. And then they fall down the chute to the packing area, where the packer grades and packs them into the bundle for delivery.

So these are easier to make than the other ones, right?

I think both have their own difficulties. I think that we've seen operators making shingles or tape. Both have to have skill in their own field.

Wow. On this side of the conveyor belt, you've got a different of product being manufactured, right?

On this side is the shingle line. Shingles are more tailored, smoother surface product. Not slick.

They're what you call either re-butts or Perfections, like we're using at my house.


Number one eighteen inch perfection shingles.


Number one quality.

Now is there just the one cutting operation? One...

There's eight machines in a row here. They cut different products. This one's cutting 24 inch Royal "Thats probably its, just awesome!" Right there right next to his hand.

The machines are old, old technology, haven't changed for 50 years. The sawer has to fix the shingles off the head saw with the one hand, transfer them and then trim the edges and square the butts here on the gripper saw on this side. Now we've all been to the butcher where there slicing ham and this isn't quite the same principle. These men have to watch doing all the time.

They really have to be fully concentrated.

All right, and then from here they all drop down to the loading station. His other job he has to and there's four bins here, which our creative one, two, three, and four he does that as well.

Okay then the shingles are all being bundled up How many bundles to a square?

Four of these bundles of shingles cover a hundred square feet. One square.

Okay, and what about the shakes?

On the shake side, remember, there were five bundles because they're a bigger bundles.

Okay. Now I want you to explain to us about the different grades of shingles.

Shingles are graded by where the defects are. Number 4 allows defects anywhere.

And that would be exposed.

Yeah. Number three, six inches clear.


Number two is eleven inches clear.


And number one, like we're putting on your project, are a hundred percent clear, a hundred percent edge grain product.


Thanks for the tour. Perfection.

We gotta break for messages. Don't go away, we'll be back to Cambridge, in a sec! Alright, we're back , and we're up on the third floor now. And we're joined by Gregory Rochlin , the project architect. We've got a real interesting situation up here, hi Riley.

Hi Bob.

You just doing takeoffs, huh? We've got a situation where we're trying to create a thirty by twenty-six foot room, right?

That's right, about that size.

About that size, which will be a family room. And, we've removed a lot of partitions. We're down to a bare roof. We've got collar ties that hold that roof together.

That's right.

But we want to go one step further. We've got on the outside of the house a beautiful set of dormers that serve the second floor, and they're large dormers.

They have shed roofs on them, and if you look at the very first one closest to the street, it has an addition on the top that services the third floor...

That's right.

With a little hip roof
on it. And we want to recreate both of those situations here for the benefit of this room. So, it's complicated framing that we're doing here, right?

There's a number of problems. Originally, this roof was never intended to take a real heavy snow level. Because the house was uninsulated. So, in the turn-of-the-century, the heat just went to the third floor, melted the snow, snow came off the roof.


Now, we're gonna heavily insulate the roof. It's gonna have a big snow load.


We need a stiff roof, because now we're going to plaster the under side of the joist.

That's the other thing. The original situation, you had, small rooms that had flat ceilings with the plaster. Now, if you put the plaster board directly on to this roof, you gotta stiffen it so that it doesn't crack.

And, just to make it even more difficult for us, we're removing most of the roof framing on this side of the roof.

Yeah. This will all be cut out. And how does the structure work? I mean, they're up against each other right now, right?

Well originally, it's like my my fingers are just a group of rafters. They're pushed against each other. Imagine my other fingers of the collar ties and keeping the roof from spreading.

Now we are putting out these, well these are micro lambs right?

That's right.

And so we're creating doubled up situations here. How many of these will we put up?


There you go. Do you need this to persuade it?

Oh, I do.

All right.

And if you look at the behind Greg here we've got already in place. Explain how the load gets transferred down.

Well, this big heavy rafter is now taking, doing the work of all these rafters over here, which are going to get headed off for the dormer. So all the load from this part of the roof comes down to this rafter, and then comes on this, what's called a cripple wall. Which originally brought some of the roof flow down to this floor, and the rest of it went down this gambrel rafter. Now, because we've got a much heavier load, we're going to have to increase the size of this, increase the size of this stud and put a beam underneath the floor to take the additional loads. And with all this additional framing, now the roof will be stiff enough so when you plaster it, your plaster won't crack.

Right . And you got to go to a great deal of trouble. It's an enormous amount of work. The only way to avoid this is don't hire an architect. Just kidding. OK.

So I guess we've got one in place and another one to go on the other side. Now on the other side of the roof itself, you've built some temporary walls. Right?

Well, we're gonna have to increase the depth of all these rafters. One, to make them stiffer, and two, to give us enough room to get insulation in.

So, you 'll sister something on.

We'll sister something on. In order to do that, we have to take this triple wall out so we can slide the rafters up. And so this is two temporary triple walls. One here and one here. It will hold the roof in place so when we take this out, your roof doesn't collapse.

Thanks for doing all the planning work, Greg.

Thank you, Bob.

We gotta break for some messages. Don't go away. Well, I'm afraid we're running out of time for this week. Come home again next time when where gonna be working in the basement.

Actually, we're pouring a two-inch slab throughout the whole basement area, and that includes first putting in some cast iron piping for the plumbing.

Also, we're gonna be framing, putting the finishing touches on framing the dormers that we were just looking at today. And taking you down to Sterling, Georgia, where we're going to visit a plant where they cut down all that framing lumber.

Til then, I'm Bob Vila. It's good to have you home again.



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