How to Install Starter Strip on a Shingle Roof

What is a starter strip or starter shingle?

At this time, we’ve already installed our underlayment, drip edge, and ice and water shield, and we’re getting ready to start installing our shingles. Now before we get into shingles, we’re gonna install what’s called the starter strip (or starter shingle). Stater strips are very important as it allows the first layer of shingles to adhere to the edge of the roof. Being that this is a mock roof, we are not going to install starter strip along this edge, but generally you would install it around the entire perimeter of the roof, eves as well as rakes.

This is what a starter shingle generally looks like. This is Owens Corning starter shingles. Some people use shingles that are flipped upside down, we do not recommend that, as it voids manufacturer warranties. If you’re using an Owens Corning product, we always recommend using the underlayment and starter shingle all from the same manufacturer, so you can have brand coherence.

So, this is actually two pieces. What you wanna do is just put it down on the roof, give it a fold this way, and a fold on the opposite side, and it tears by itself, no need to use a knife.

What kind of nails should you use to install starter shingles?

So, we’re ready to start installing these. We’re gonna install these with a metal coil gun. This is the same nail that you used to install your shingles, and you can see here, they’re round capped, electric galvanized and come in coils. We’re using short nails here because generally on your overhangs, you don’t want your nails sticking through.

How to install starter shingles with a staggered pattern

Your first piece of starter shingle, you always wanna make sure you cut, and the reason for this is when you’re installing your shingles, you wanna have a staggered pattern, you don’t want the joint of your shingles and your starter strip to align. I’ll show you that a little bit later on.

We’re gonna be cutting five to six inches off this first piece of starter shingle. When installing the starter strip, you wanna put five nails in each starter strip. Owens Corning recommends 2 to 3 inches back from the edge of the roof. And they recommend five nails, so it’s gonna be one on each end, and then three placed evenly across. You don’t need to use a measuring tape when installing these shingles. You just need to be able to eyeball it. If you’re new to this, maybe measuring it out is a good idea. You wanna come in an inch to two inches on each side and two inches up from the bottom.

Anytime you’re installing nails on either a starter strip or shingles, you always want to make sure that the head of your nail is flush. We over-drove the nail here, to show you what an over-driven nail looks like. You can see that it’s pushing the shingles through and what happens with that is, it’ll pop out easily. As opposed to this nail that is driven properly, it takes a lot more pressure to rip it out. So, you want make sure that your compressor is not put on too high of a volume so that your nails are nice and flush.

There are two important reasons for using a starter shingle:

  1. When we’re installing our regular shingles, you wanna make sure that you have protection underneath. So, when we start installing our shingles, what you’re gonna see here is, there is gonna be a gap. Now, in between these two shingles, if we have water coming through this crack, the starter shingle is what helps them roll off the roof.
  2. The second reason for the starter shingles is you can see that shingles have an adhesive backing here. This edge is the most important area when it comes to wind-proofing your roof, so that wind doesn’t lift up your shingles. Starter shingles have an adhesive strip here. When coupled with the adhesive strip on the back of the shingles, it provides for a very strong bond and high wind ratings. Once the sun heats up, both these adhesive tabs and forms a bond, it’s gonna create a secure surface and secure adhesion for years to come.

How to install starter strip on a drip edge

When installing our starter strip, we like to come up quarter to half an inch from the drip edge. What this does is creates a clean line for us to install our shingles. If we install flush, what will happen is the water will roll onto the drip edge. When you install a quarter to half an inch out, this allows the water to actually roll off your roof and not come and damage your fascia board.

How to install starter shingles at a corner of a roof

When we’re installing a starter strip, anytime we come to a corner, whether it’s a rake-to-wall or a hip like this, the concept is to keep that adhesive strip continuous. So, you can see here, instead of having this starter strip cover up this adhesive strip, we wanna take this off so that we’re exposing the adhesive strip on both sides. So, as you’re installing the starter strip, just make sure to continuously have that adhesive strip all around the perimeter of your roof. Again, this helps a lot with the uplift of shingles and wind rating.

Now, we’ve installed the starter strip all along, remember we’ve got five nails per starter strip. The importance of the starter strip, I can’t emphasize enough. A lot of roofers may try to take short cuts or try to use upside-down shingles, we don’t recommend that at all. Install the starter strip, the same brand as you do your shingles. So, right now we are installing Owens Corning. We’re using all Owens Corning products. Now we’re ready to get started with the single installation. Let’s jump into it in our next video.