Table of Contents

Introduction: Shingle Installation for New Walls

  • Surface Preparation

Construction Information

  • Fastener Guidelines
  • Single Course Installation
  • Double Course Installation
  • Corners

Decorative Options

  • Staggered Butt Coursing
  • Ribbon Coursing

Construction Information

Fastener Guidelines

All fasteners should penetrate at least 3/4" into the sheathing, or all the way through. Fasteners should be driven flush with the surface of the shingle or shake. When using staples, they should always be concealed by the course above. In sidewall applications with exposed fasteners, nails are preferred for aesthetic reasons.

We recommend stainless steel nails and fasteners between 1-¼” and 2” long. Double-dipped galvanized are adequate, too, except in areas near salt water or in severe winds. We recommend stainless-steel nails and air staples made by Maze Nails of Peru, Illinois, which are especially made only for cedar shingles.

Cheaper fasteners can lead to premature failure of your project. Inexpensive fasteners simply don’t hold up under stress, and nails that are not of the best quality will bleed a rust line down your beautiful shingle wall or roof. When it comes to fasteners, do not trade quality for some false bargain.

Fastening Tip: If you use air tools to fasten your shingles, avoid any countersinking of the nail or staple from excess air pressure. Similarly, if you are hand-nailing: don’t put the head of the nail into the shingle. Cedar shingles are made of organic stuff, wood fiber. If you leave some room, when the shingle expands or contracts with moisture variations, it won’t split.

Caution: Do not use electrogalvanized fasteners as they will cause staining.


Each True North Cedar shingle or shake should be fastened with two corrosion-resistant fasteners. We recommend hot-dipped zinc coated nails, however stainless steel (type 304 or 316), and aluminum nails as well as other fasteners are acceptable.

Minimum nail lengths are shown in the fastener chart below.

In double course applications, face nail the exposed shingle or shake with two galvanized or stainless steel casing nails. Nails should be driven 2" above the butt line, and 3/4" from each edge. Shingles that are wider than 10" should receive two additional nails near the center of the shingle driven approximately 1" apart.


Use only 16 gauge aluminum or stainless steel staples (type 304 or 316, or 007). Staples should be driven in the same location as nails relative to the sides and overlapping butt line. As with installations using nails, shingles wider than 10" should receive two additional staples driven approximately 1" apart near the center of the shingle.

Important Note: Underdriving or overdriving any fastener will affect the integrity of the True North Cedar Shingle or Shake.

Single Course Installation

single course

Figure 3. Single course installation.

Single course detail

Figure 3a. Single course detail.

First apply 30# felt underlayment to the wall. Next at the base of the wall, lay a double starting course of True North Cedar shingles or shakes. (Figure 3). Install shingles with a 1/8" to 1/4" space between each shingle.

Offset the side joints of each course at least 1 1/2" over the joints of the course below.

Use a story-pole to establish the butt line for each course. Nail a straight edge lightly to the wall along the butt line, or simply string a line on the butt line (to keep courses straight and level). Every 3 or 4 courses, be sure to check for level.

Nails should be driven 1" above the butt line of the overlapping course, and 3/4" from each edge. Shingles that are wider than 10" should receive two additional nails near the center of the shingle driven approximately 1" apart. Because shingles vary in width you can  minimize waste. At the corners, and around doors and windows, you may need to trim a selected shingle slightly. (This could be an opportunity to trim one of the very few defects which might have slipped past our True North Cedar graders!)

single course

Figure 4. Double course installation.

Double Course Install

To create an attractive wall siding with wide weather exposures and deep shadow lines, True North Cedar shingles can be applied double coursed. This can offer some economy due to the use of less expensive True North Cedar Grade D shingles for the undercourse and the wide exposures of the outer course (Figure 4).

When applying a double course installation to a wall, the starter course is laid triple with two undercourse shingles or by applying one undercourse shingle over a strip of wood lath and then applying the outer course. This technique will give the bottom course the same angle of slant as the succeeding courses. All outer courses should be applied 1/2" lower than the undercourse (Figure 4). Using a straight edge can help alignment and nailing of both the undercourse and exposed courses. True North Cedar Grade D shingles are fastened at the top with one nail or staple in the center to create the undercourse. The exposed course of True North Grade A, B, or Roof or Wall grade shingles, should be face-nailed with two casing-type nails per shingle, driven approximately 2" above the butt line, and 3/4" from each edge. Fasten shingles wider than 10" with two additional nails approximately 1" apart near the center of the shingle 

single course

Figure 5. Corners. View enlarged image.


Lace Corners

It is easy to create neat, tight fitting inside or outside corners. One traditional style of finishing corners is to lace the outside corners (Figure 5e). This method requires small nails near the shingle butts to hold the lapped corners tightly. In double course applications, the exposed shingle should be face-nailed with two steel casing nails, approximately 2” above the buttline, and 3/4” from each edge. Shingles that are wider than 10" should receive two additional nails near the center of the shingle driven approximately 1" apart.

Corner Boards 

Corner boards create a clean easy to install corner detail. Nail a 1 x 4 cedar board to a 1 x 3 cedar board, (We keep these boards in stock to ship with your shingle order from True North Cedar). You can then attach the pre-assembled corner to the building (Figure 5b).

Inside Corners

One should always use flashing behind shingles or shakes at all inside corners. Shingles may be butted against a square wood strip (Figure 5a), or they can be fitted directly one course to the other (Figure 5c, 5d). When using the latter method, courses should be completed on each wall progressively. They are  most easily fitted by working from the corners.

next page: Decorative Options

P.O. Box 16065       Duluth, MN 55816     Ph: 218-727-2145