How To Cut Roof Shingles?

Most DIY lovers can agree that shingling the roof sits on the top of their to-do list.

If you haven’t tried it yet, we bet your DIY enthusiast neighbor or friend has already suggested you do the same. But no worries, you can begin right away; there are just some crucial things to keep in mind before you lay hands on the project.

That’s why we’ve compiled this short and quick guide on how to cut shingles. From different tools to the right technique, we have it all.

Now, let’s dive in!

How To Cut Shingles With Different Tools?

In the following sections, we will talk about the various tools and how to cut shingles with them for the best results.

Circular Saw

We’d like to start with circular saws, which can be used to cut straight lines on a stack of shingles in certain situations. Generally, a circular saw is used when users need to trim the edges of several shingles at once, especially for downsizing the pieces to fit along the edge of the roof.

In this case, make sure that the saw has a strong and sharp-toothed blade, like the ones used to cut through old nails. Otherwise, it will wear down in no time, even before you can complete the job. You would want to begin by marking the area with a chalk line for the cut and cut through to trim the entire stack.

However, work quickly to prevent the blade from getting too hot while resting against the shingles. Too much heat can melt the tar on the back, thereby rendering them useless.

Utility Knife

The common utility knife is perhaps the best choice for cutting standalone shingles. These tools feature a removable, razor-sharp blade that can be adjusted to several lengths before locking into place.

As such, a standard utility knife is good enough to cut through the smooth side of the shingle, but it may become dull rather quickly when used on rough surfaces. To avoid the hassle of frequent blade changes, you may equip the knife with a hook blade for better quality and faster cuts.

Like the standard straight blades, these are typically compatible with most utility knives. While you may pull them straight along the edges for quick cuts, achieving precision with curves may be challenging.

Tip Snips

Although tip snips are generally used for cutting through metal, these sharp and powerful scissor-like tools are very effective for complex and precise cuts in shingles. If you’re looking to trim the shingles to fit around small vents or pipes, tip snips are a perfect choice.

As opposed to utility knives, these are easy to control and maneuver for avoiding uneven or jagged edges. You can even cut through the shingles in a swift, continuous motion like you’d do while cutting a paper with scissors. Since they are designed for trimming heavy materials, even a dull blade will do a good job, but you may need to put in some extra effort.

How To Cut Asphalt Shingles At The Edge Of The Roof?

Before we answer how to cut shingles at the edge of the roof, here’s a list of things that you should keep in the vicinity:

  • Yardstick or ruler
  • White chalk
  • Hook blade knife

Precise edging marks will invariably contribute to a clean-looking roof, and the best way to ensure this is to first paste the new shingles and then trim them. This will negate the risk of an unevenly edged roof. That’s why we would strongly recommend using only a hook blade knife as other tools like clippers or saws may lead to jagged edges.

On that note, let’s take a look at the steps:

Step 1

The first step is to inspect the roofline. If it’s straight, then that’s a task done already. However, if there are any irregularities or gaps, you have to cut the shingles to cover the entire thing. This may require extra effort and time.

Step 2

Grab the yardstick or ruler and place it over the shingle ½-inch beyond the roofline. Many users prefer leaving a ½-inch overlap between the shingle and the roofline, instead of cutting the shingle exactly at the edge. Mark this area with blue chalk.

When you cut along the line, you would be making the shingles even to leave a ½-inch overhang where they extend beyond the edge.

Step 3

Make sure you extend the chalk line all the way across the edge. Double-check if necessary.

Step 4

Finally, begin cutting the shingles with the hook blade knife carefully along the chalk line. Take your time with this process until the entire edge has been trimmed. In the case of larger roofs, you may divide the area into small blocks and concentrate on one area at a time for better precision.

Some Additional Tips

Work In A Pattern

If you have ever seen a professional roofing crew at work, you will notice that they start working from the bottom left corner to the right and upward direction (from the eave line to the peak). Furthermore, if you have extra help, you can work simultaneously to fill the eave and field.

Use One Shingle Deck

In the case of using multiple shingle decks, always finish up the first bundle before moving on to the second. This is usually done to reduce the chances of having different colored shingles in the same area.

Use Proper Nails

When securing the shingles to the roof, ensure that the nails are designed for the purpose. Nails made of galvanized steel or corrosion-resistant roofing nails are best suited for this.

Final Words

With that, we hope our efforts have helped you know more about how to cut shingles.

But before we wrap up the guide, here are two pro-tips: first, blue chalk will rinse off easily from the shingles compared to red chalk. Second, don’t throw away the scraps of shingles. They will help with the patchwork in case some get damaged by wind or snow.

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