All styles of wood shingles -
or Fishscale can be
used to shingle a roof to look like a real wood shake roof. After deciding on the
style of shingle you wish to use, be sure to buy enough packages of shingles to
finish your project.
To determine the number of shingles you will need, first figure the total square
inches of the roof. To calculate square inches, multiply the width by the length
of each roof section, and then add these measurements together. For example, one
section is 12" wide by 6" deep and equals 72" sq., another section is 6" wide by
6" deep and equals 36" sq. Add 72" sq. and 36" sq. for a total of 108" sq.
Next, divide the total square inches of the roof, by the number of square inches
the package of shingles will cover. This total ascertains the number of packages
it will take to shingle the entire roof. If the total contains a fraction, call
it one package. For example: If the total square inches were 528, and a bag of 100
shingles covers 76" sq., you divide 528 by 76. The result is that you will need
6.94 bags for proper coverage. Since the total figure (6.94) ends in a fraction,
you need to round up to 7 bags, which will cover 532" sq. (7 x 76 = 532). However,
when the figure is that close (6.94 to 7), I buy one more package to allow for the
cutting of half shingles and the weaving of valleys. By buying an additional package,
I am assured that there are enough shingles to cover my roof.
Unfinished shingles are the natural color of the wood. With age, they will darken
slightly from exposure to the air. To maintain this natural wood look, apply the
shingles straight from the bag, according to the directions. After they have dried
for 24 hours, carefully varnish with a polyurethane varnish in order to achieve
a finish that can be wiped or dusted with a damp cloth. Also, a polyurethane varnish
protects the shingles from changes in the weather.
If you desire darker shingles, apply an oil base stain. There are several ways to
- Paint each shingle with a brush,
including both sides and the edges.
- Using a pair of tweezers, dip
each shingle in the can of stain.
- Pour stain in an old pan, and
mix the shingles with the stain. Several packages may be done at the same time this
way. Make sure that all surfaces of the shingles are coated. Lift out the shingles
with tweezers, and spread them out on newspaper to dry.
For all of these methods, after applying the stain, lay the shingles on newspaper
to dry. Allow 24 hours to dry.
You might also want to stain the roof pieces so the natural wood color will not
show through. This step is not necessary, but it is an option. If your house is
already painted, be careful not to get the stain on the paint.
Be sure to paint or stain the edges of the roof before you shingle. I always go
up on the top side about 3/8", so that the wood color underneath will not show through.
This step is necessary even though you are going to put trim around the edge. Before
you begin to shingle, I would suggest that you put the trim around the edge of the
If you desire a different color for the roof and wish to use wood shingles, you
may paint the shingles.
This can be done individually before applying them to the roof, or as a whole, after
you have applied them to the roof. If the siding is already painted, be careful
when applying the shingles. If you haven't painted the siding, I suggest that you
shingle first, then apply the paint.
For one of my houses, I stained the house with an aqua color stain, and used an
ivory color paint for the trim. To complete the decor, I stained the edges of the
shingles with the aqua stain, and then painted the remainder of the shingles with
the ivory paint. I had to finish each shingle individually, but it resulted in a
nice scalloped effect.
One of the most important aspects of applying shingles, is to have the proper tools.
Although a chopper may be used to cut the shingles, I prefer to use the German miter
tool. With this tool, I find it easier to cut and apply the shingles. After cutting
a piece of shingle, and discovering that it doesn't fit, you can cut more off, in
minute sections, until the shingle fits. The German miter tool is both hand held,
and very easy to use. Now that I am accustomed to using it, I cannot work without
this tool. It is also great for mitering trim and making picture frames.
To make sure that you apply shingles evenly:
- Start at the bottom edge of
- Measure and mark evenly, starting
from the bottom, and working upward to the top in 1" increments. Repeat this procedure
for the other side of the roof.
- Draw lines between the marks
with a straightedge ruler. This will result in a 1/4" overlap.
For a greater overlap:
- Lay your shingle on the edge
of the roof with a 1/4" overhang.
- Place a shingle on top of the
first shingle, to see how much overlap you desire.
- Mark where both the top of
the first and second shingle lay.
- The measurement between these
two marks is the width between the lines you will draw from the bottom to the top
of the roof.
- If you do change to a greater
overlap, you will probably use more shingles. The area one package will cover is
based on a 1/4" overlap.
- Following the lines that you
have drawn, run a bead of good, thick white glue across the roof and just under
the first line.
- Starting at the left edge with
a whole shingle, place the shingles with the top edge along the line, leaving a
small gap between the shingles, and a 1/4" overhang on the edge. (I put a little
glue at the top of the back side of each shingle as I put it in place.)
- Place a bead of glue across
the next line up.
- Start the second row with a
half shingle (cut lengthwise). This row is offset to cover the gaps. Place the top
of the shingle on the second line over the shingle of the first row and continue
- The third row will start with
a full shingle, like the first row.
- The fourth row will start with
a half shingle, like the second row.
- Continue to the top, alternating
the rows. I usually do 2 to 3 rows, and then let them set for about 15 minutes.
Otherwise, the weight may cause them to slide down. It is a good idea to place a
1/4" x 1/16" piece of strip wood along the edge of the roof before you start. You
can also cut pieces of the shingles about 3/8" and glue along the edge. This protects
the overhang of the first row and will put the first row at the same angle as the
Do all of the flat roof pieces before you do the dormers. Be sure the shingles on
each side of dormers match. Also, the rows of shingles on the dormers should match
the rows on the flat surface.
When the flat surface of the roof comes to a peak, there will also be a valley.
You will have to cut small pieces of shingle to match the rows on each side of the
valley as they meet. This is called "weaving the valley."
Each roof peak must have a ridge row at the top. First, bend or break a shingle
in half, and then glue one half on each side with the centers of the shingles meeting
on the top edge. Start at the front and overlap the shingles on top of each other
until you have covered the ridge. You can also use this method for the main ridge
of the roof. Either start at both ends and work towards the middle, or start at
one end and work across to the other end. Make sure shingles that make up the ridge
all face the same way.
Rather than capping the top main ridge of the roof, you can butt the shingles. Apply
the front row of shingles a little higher than the back row. This allows the back
row to butt under the front row, resulting in a neat ridge.
After shingling, you may add a roof ridge moulding to the top main ridge, instead
of making shingle caps. The design of your dollhouse project will determine which
roof ridge to use. There are fancy roof ridges available that are great for Victorian
Painted Ladies. You may also use corner molding or angle trim as a roof cap.
For shingling difficult areas, such as peaks or facades on Victorian houses, I find
the following method very effective:
- Make a pattern of the area
that is to be shingled. (See the Flooring
- Copy the pattern design on
a piece of light cardboard and cut it out.
- Install the shingles onto the
cardboard, letting them overhang at each end and over all openings.
- Once the panel is covered with
shingles, turn the assembly over. Using your utility or X-Acto knife, trim off all
- Now you have a panel of shingles
which is a perfect fit for the facade.