30 Nov

Anatomy of a Roof System: Roof Starter Shingles

Starter Shingles? Like Training Wheels On a Bike?

So you’ve heard of shingles, but what in the world are starter shingles? You might be wondering if they’re like training wheels on a bike. Answer: Sort of. Let’s explore.

First, a Definition

Also known as starter strips, these types of shingles have an asphalt, adhesive base and are mostly used to waterproof the eaves and rake edges of your home before the “finish” shingles are installed. You might also think of them as an appetizer before the main course.

What Do They Do?

Without starter shingles, a gust of wind or another type of weatherly element could get under the “top” shingles and blow ‘em right off. These guys do a mighty job because they’re not only used as an anchor for the finish shingles but also cover the joints between the aforementioned shingles, creating a seamless flow for water without penetration. Keeping everything dry inside your attic and home is critical.

Actually, you need them around all the edges of your roof. But that’s not all. 

They also: 

  • Create an overlap along the eaves where the shingles come to an edge and can’t be overlapped.
  • Thicken the shingle layers sticking out over the rake edge to prevent drooping.  
  • Help form a straight line to orient each new row of shingles that are installed properly.

What Do They Look Like?

Starter shingles are a generic rectangle so they can work with any overlapping shingle style. In terms of color, they’re generally covered with natural, darker, uncolored roofing granules, but it doesn’t really matter what color they are—they’re underneath most of the roof, except for rakes and roof gables.

Note: at the rake edges, the starters don’t necessarily cover the joints as they do at the eaves, but they help with your roof’s overall resistance to wind. Once they’re warmed by the sun, this will help seal and protect everything.

Best of all, when you look up at your roof gable ends, you’ll see a nice straight line and not an uneven, ragged mess.

When Do I Need Them?

Mostly, it’s when you’ll be getting a new roof or re-roofing the one you have. They’ll be factored into the overall cost of your roof installation and/or repair.

We’re On Top of Things

Whether you need an entirely new roof or a patch, we’re ready and waiting to help. As a family-run business for decades, we appreciate your time deciding what’s right for your home. If we can be of assistance, whether to just discuss your options or dive right in, all you have to do is reach out.


Be sure to read the next article in our series: Anatomy of a Roof System: Roof Flashing

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