Roof Repair: How to Replace Cedar Shingles

A home with cedar shingles.
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-40
What You'll Need
Slaters ripper
Wood block
Metal shim

Cedar shingles make attractive roofs that are sturdy and long lasting. They’ve been in use for a few centuries and actually can help to insulate a home. It takes time to install a cedar shingle roof, but that actually makes repairs a great deal easier. As the shingles are applied individually it’s quite possible to replace a single cedar shingle in the event of a problem. The new shingle will weather to blend in with the others.

Step 1 - Make a Quick Fix

Rather than removing cedar shingles, there’s a quick repair you can make to a single shingle. You’ll need a metal shim that’s as long as the shingle and around 2½ inches wide, made of corrosion-free metal. You should bend the corner on the lower edge of the shim under and then slide it under the damaged shingle. Press down on it with the shingle. This isn’t a perfect repair but it will work. However, it doesn’t make for a long-term repair.

Step 2 - Prepare

Be sure to clear off the roof properly before you make any repairs to the cedar shingles. Be aware that if you don’t clear off all the debris, including pine needs. These can end up under the cedar shingles, trapping moisture, and causing eventual leaks.

Step 3 - Loosen Shingles

With the pry bar, loosen the nail holding the damaged cedar shingle in place, but don’t remove it. After you’ve done that you should loosen the nails in the two shingles that sit above the one that needs to be replaced.

With cedar shingles, you should have a tool called a slater’s ripper to remove the nails. Use it to take out the nail in the damaged shingle, being careful not to damage any other shingles. If the nail won’t come out you can use a hacksaw to cut it and then hammer in the point left in the roof. Carefully move the cedar shingle until it comes away from those surrounding it and off the roof. You need to be careful not to damage the surrounding shingles.

Step 4 - Add New Shingles

Before putting the replacement cedar shingle into a place you need to put two nails into it. These should be at 45-degree angles so that when the shingle goes into the roof the nails will aim toward the ridge.

Slide the shingle into place. It should be about ½ inch lower than the other cedar shingles in the same row. Now nail it into place. The angle of the nails will help to push the shingle into place properly on the roof. To complete the alignment, put a wooden block at the bottom of the shingle and hit it lightly with a hammer until the replacement shingle is lined up with the others in the row. To complete the repair you need to hammer the nails in the shingles above the replacement back into place so they’re firm on the roof.