I was helping a relative shingle his shed roof last summer, but he wasn’t sure how to use his shingles on the ridge of his shed. He didn’t know that there are ridge cap shingles that are specifically used only for roofing a ridge.
Ridge cap shingles are shingles specially designed to fit over the ridge of a roof. They are often pre-bent and thicker than regular roof shingles. Ridge cap shingles resemble a single “tab” from a standard roof shingle and install by overlapping one another from one end of the ridge to the other.
Most shingle manufacturers make ridge cap shingles to go with their standard shingles. While these shingles are commonly found in asphalt roofing applications, they also exist for other types of roofing materials, such as metal, rubber, tile, and more.
In this article, we’ll cover what ridge shingles do, where they go on a roof, and how they differ from standard shingles in terms of look and installation.
- What Are Ridge Cap Shingles?
- Types of Ridge Cap Shingles
- How to Install Hip and Ridge Shingles
- How To End Ridge Cap Shingles
- How to Repair or Replace Ridge Cap Shingles
What Are Ridge Cap Shingles?
A ridge cap shingle is a specifically shaped shingle designed to fit a roof ridge or hip. Many come with a bend and extra material to fit tightly around the ridge. Hip and ridge shingles can be bought in conjunction with any standard roof shingle, regardless of the material.
Ridge cap – or roof peak – shingles for standard asphalt shingles, whether standard 3-tab or architectural, are usually around 12×12 inches in size. Often the top of the shingle, which is the part that is not visible, is tapered so that it is completely covered by the previous roof peak shingle.
Just as a roof ridge joins two sides of your roof, the ridge cap shingles overlap the last layer of standard shingles on either side of the ridge. The ridge shingles overlap one another, starting from one end. They also have nailing strips just like standard shingles, making the installation of these shingles almost identical to regular shingles.
Regular 3 or 4-tab shingles often don’t have specific ridge cap shingles. Instead, roofers will make ridge cap shingles from one of the tabs on the standard shingle. This is common practice in the roofing industry and will work if done properly – more on making your own roof ridge shingles below.
Finally, why do you need ridge shingles? For one, they are thicker. Typical asphalt shingle cannot just bend over a roof ridge because it’ll crack or push through the nails and come loose, particularly for steeply pitched roofs.
They also provide a finished appearance to the top of your roof. Ridge shingles can also be used to fit over ridge vents to overlap each end of the ridge vent slightly.
Hip and ridge shingles make finishing a roof much easier. You’ll need longer nails for ridge shingles, but the same overlapping method of installation for standard asphalt shingles also applies to ridge shingles.
Types of Ridge Cap Shingles
A ridge cap shingle is a square, or nearly square, piece of shingle that is the same material as the rest of your roofing. If you have asphalt shingles, then you’ll have asphalt ridge caps, and so on.
Other types of roofing materials beyond asphalt will have their own ridge caps of varying types, but in this article will be looking at asphalt shingles and asphalt ridge shingles.
Let’s take a look at the different types of roof peak shingles available and the differences between each.
Standard 3-tab and 4- tab
Formerly the most common roofing material around 3 and 4-tab asphalt shingles are found just about everywhere. But many of these shingle manufacturers do not sell specific ridge cap shingles. Instead, roofers cut their own ridge cap shingles from the regular shingle.
While I’ll outline the process below in more detail, the idea is that one “tab” of a standard shingle is the size of a ridge cap shingle. So you will cut a tab off the shingle and taper either side of the end that will be hidden. And that’s it – you’ve got your ridge cap shingle for 3 and 4- tab shingles.
This might not be recommended for roofs with a very steep pitch, as the makeshift ridge shingle could tear when bent in half. In that case, you would have to find specific hip and ridge shingles from another manufacturer and match the color to the existing shingles.
If you have different types of shingles, such as asphalt hexagonal or diamond-shaped, then you can still make your ridge cap shingles with these in the same manner as above. In these cases, the bottom of the tab is simply a different shape, but they can still overlap each other as a single tab.
These types of shingles are thicker and have more layers than a standard 3-tab shingle, and are also more common on new builds than any other type of shingle. The design of these shingles also varies, as the tabs are not uniform, and, depending on the manufacturer, the “tabs” may be angled or straight.
While the aesthetic for these shingles may be pleasing, it does not lend itself to creating your own ridge cap shingles. Since the tabs are not uniform, it would be impossible to cut ridge cap shingles and make them all look the same. The tab part of laminated shingles is thicker, which would likely crack when you bend it over the ridge.
One option is to cut the back off the architectural shingle – the non-visible part – and cut it into sections to use as a ridge shingle, since it is not as thick as the visible part. You would get a uniform appearance, but the color wouldn’t match the rest of your roof.
Another option is to use a 3-tab shingle of the same color and cut your ridge cap shingles, which would be somewhat cheaper as ridge cap shingles can be more expensive. However, this may void the warranty for your architectural shingles and you’ll also have a hard time matching exact colors.
The best idea for ridge cap shingles when using laminated/architectural shingles is to buy the specific ridge shingles for that manufacturer. You’ll have a perfect color match and not have to bother cutting and size matching to get a proper DIY ridge shingle.
How to Install Hip and Ridge Shingles
When installing hip and ridge shingles, the first thing you should be aware of is that these shingles will use longer nails than your regular roof shingles. Why? Ridge shingles often have another layer of shingle to nail through.
Also, most manufacturers of ridge shingles make them double-layered for added protection. In the past, they were nearly all single layers but due to the exposed position of ridge cap shingles, they are prone to leaks and wind damage. Therefore, thicker is deemed to be better.
Plus, ridge shingles have the added stress of being bent, therefore you want a more serious fastener to keep it in place. Opt for 2” or 2 ½” roofing nails, which will be sufficient to hold your ridge cap shingles.
Another important consideration is which end to start your ridge cap shingles? If there is a direction that the wind typically comes from, then you’ll want to start in the opposite direction. In other words, you don’t want the wind blowing your ridge cap shingles “up” – you want the nailed end facing the direction of the wind.
Once you’ve chosen a starting point, lay your shingles. Each ridge shingle requires only two nails, although you are better served using four – two on each side. That way you ensure a strong connection as these shingles can be prone to wind damage.
Installing Ridge Cap Shingles from 3 and 4-tab Shingles
The installation of makeshift ridge cap shingles from a standard “tab”-type shingle is just the same as above, but the tricky part can be cutting the shingle to make a ridge shingle.
To cut a ridge cap shingle from a 3 or 4-tab shingle, you’ll use your shingle cutter – a hook-shaped blade placed in your utility knife – to cut apart each tab.
When cutting a tab, you don’t want to make square or rectangular pieces. If you do, it will be difficult to hide the top part of the shingle when you begin to overlap them. Instead, when cutting the top – not visible – part of the shingle for your ridge cap, you’ll want to cut inward about 30 degrees or so to make tapered ends.
To make the tapered ends for a ridge cap shingle, lay a 3-tab shingle right side up flat on the ground with the tabs facing you. Between each tab, you’ll cut a letter “V”, with the point of the “V” at the beginning of the tab. Your cuts will go out and away from you. You’ll also have to cut the ends in the same fashion, but since they are the ends they’ll only need one cut.
A tapered end will ensure that the back ends of your DIY ridge cap shingles are hidden. Avoid cutting too great of an angle on your ridge shingles because the hidden portion of your ridge shingle anchors it securely – with nails – to the roof and the shingle behind it.
Ridge Cap Shingles and Roof Vents
Hip and ridge shingles are designed to work with ridge vents. Roof peak shingles should overhang by ½” to ¾” on either side of the vent.
Keep in mind that some ridge vents have a “finished” design, meaning you don’t put ridge shingles over the top.
If your ridge vent does require ridge cap shingles, then you’ll first install the vent according to manufacturer instructions, using standard roofing nails. Then install the ridge cap shingles on top of the vent.
When installing the roof peak shingles on a ridge vent, use 2 ½” roofing nails to ensure the fasteners embed into the roof sheathing. There is a nail line on ridge vents that will indicate where you can nail your ridge cap shingles through the vent.
How To End Ridge Cap Shingles
One of the biggest questions for DIY ridge cap installers is how to terminate a row of ridge cap shingles. Know that you will not be able to avoid having a few visible nail heads at the end of your row of roof peak shingles. But the good news is there will only be a few.
To end a row of ridge cap shingles, trim your last shingle to fit the roofline. Then cut a new ridge shingle to fit over the last one. Make sure you use only the part of the shingle that is meant to be visible. Nail and then cover nail heads with roofing cement.
The last shingle that you nail will be a ridge cap shingle without the tar strip. Some prefer to use four nails for the last roof peak shingle, which is a good idea as it is the most exposed shingle since there isn’t another covering it.
That last shingle that you cut to fit on end will then be nailed twice. Cover the nail heads with dabs of roofing cement.
How to Repair or Replace Ridge Cap Shingles
To replace a ridge cap shingle, gently pry the ridge cap shingle just above the damaged one using a flathead pry bar. Then remove nails from the damaged shingle using the same pry bar while holding the first shingle up and out of the way. Install the new shingle and lower the undamaged shingle.
When replacing the shingle, use roofing cement over all the nail heads you come in contact with as the shingles’ movement will cause nails to move, resulting in larger nail holes that could allow moisture in.
Repairing a ridge cap shingle requires you to pry the shingle above the damaged shingle up with a flat pry bar or long flathead screwdriver. Once you have space, either install a new nail or roofing cement as needed, then lower the first shingle, secure nails, use roofing cement, and you are done.
A ridge roofing shingle, particularly those that are made from standard 3-tab shingles, are already under stress from being bent in ways they weren’t meant to be. Therefore, you must handle these shingles carefully when fixing or replacing them, as they can crack very easily.
A roof is your first line of defense against the elements and also one of the most visible parts of your home, which means you do not want to cut corners on materials or installation.
Ridge cap shingles will cost more than if you make your own from 3 or 4-tab shingles. However, you’ll be able to match the exact look of your shingles and get the added protection of the more layered ridge shingles.
Finally, when installing your roof peak shingles, be sure to use longer roofing nails and pay attention to the direction you nail the ridge shingles. Careful planning will ensure your ridge caps will stay fastened for a long time.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful. I wish you the best of luck during your next roofing project. Remember to work safely and measure twice!