Production-minded installers using pneumatic tools aren’t always cautious about where they drive the nails or staples that fasten cedar shingles to a wall. I was asked to strip and reshingle the back of a fairly new home. After only eight years, the white-cedar shingles were badly cupped and curling. The owners thought it was due to poorquality shingles, but when I began stripping the shingles off the wall, the problem was clear. The installers nailed too high. Proper nail height is 1 in. above the overlying shingle butt line. These shingles were nailed 21/2 in. to 31/2 in. above the line. The installers probably nailed high to avoid the shiners that can occur if they nail too low. It’s also easier to nail fast and high than it is to work close to the butt line without going too low.
I’ve tried different ways to keep fasteners at the right level. I’ve used chalklines, gauge blocks, and just plain eyeballing. But the technique that works best is also the easiest. As shown in the drawing, I stick a 1/4-in.-wide strip of white tape to the side of my staple gun’s magazine as a guide. I position the tape 1 in. greater than the shinglecourse exposure measured from the top edge of the shingle-guide strip. I can align the tape strip quickly with the guide strip and fire away.