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What Is The Purpose Of Roofing Starter Shingles?

The Purpose & Application Of Roofing Starter Shingles

Roofing Is Intended To Be Installed As A Complete System

What Is The Purpose Of Roofing Starter Shingles? Roofing systems achieve the best waterproofing results when installed correctly as a complete system. When having a new roof installed on your home you will need to verify that your roofing contractor has included all of the critical components, other than shingles, of the roofing system in your contract price. Some contractors will offer you a very appealing price but in the end they have removed some of the most critical components of the system in order to provide you with a low price.

Always remember that when it comes to selecting a roofing system that if you cut corners to save a few dollars now you will end up paying for it later as the system begins to fail or needs repair. For more information on what components make up a complete roofing system check out this article I provided for Marcus Anthony Construction, a roofing company in CT.

The Purpose Of Starter Strips

Roofing-Starter-ShinglesStarter shingles (also known as starter strips) are a key component to your new roofing system. A starter strip is an asphalt based shingle utilized to waterproof the eave and rake edges of your home during a re-roof.

Take a look at your roof and you’ll see how the field roofing shingles are overlapped to create seamless flow of water without penetration.  But along the eave line, roofing shingles come to an edge and can’t be overlapped.

To prevent water penetration, we install starter shingles or starter strips.  Where the shingles on the eaves butt up against each other, these starter strips provide the overlap function.  Some designer shingles, like GAF Grand Sequoia are key cut, which leaves gaps along the eave if no starter strip is used.

Starter shingles provide multiple purposes along rakes:

  • Adhesive tar strips help prevent shingle blow-off from harsh winds (along eaves as well).
  • A straight line to properly orient each new row of shingles.
  • Thicken the shingle layers sticking over the rake edge to help prevent drooping.

Without starter strips or starter shingles, water will likely penetrate your roof edge.  A good underlayment, like GAF Tiger Paw synthetic hybrid underlayment goes a long way to reducing damage.  But it is only a secondary layer of protection that functions robustly when the water that reaches it is a low enough quantity.  If a lack of starter strips have caused a real problem of water penetrating your top shingle layer, underlayment or even the more robust WeatherWatch leak barrier will not prevent water penetration forever.

Check out the short video below by Juff’s Roofing Toronto, which illustrates starter strip or starter shingle principal in an easy to understand way.


Installation Tips

  • Make sure the factory adhesive is facing up so it can adhere to the field shingles.
  • The edge of the starter strip should hang over the eave and rake edge 3/4″ in order to create a drip edge. This is required on all Golden Pledge system warranties.
  • Utilize 4 nails per shingle for proper wind rating.

Technical Information About GAF Pro-Start Shingles

As a GAF Master Elite contractor we prefer to use their factory starter strips, like GAF Pro-Start. They save us time on the install and provide a cleaner appearance than cutting up 3 tab shingles. Factory starter is also a part of the GAF complete roofing system and required to qualify the roof for an upgraded warranty.  Here are a few technical points for Pro-Start starter strips (from GAF website):

Product Specifications (Nominal)

  • ICC-ES 1475
  • Dade County Approved
  • Meets ASTM D3462 , D3018
  • UL 790 Class A fire rating
  • Florida Building Code approved

Product Size:

  • (full sheet) 13″ x 38″
  • (half sheet) 6.5″ x 38″

Bundle Count: 19 full sheets (38 individual pieces)

Coverage Per Bundle: Approx. 120.33 linear ft (when split in half)

We’ve installed thousands of complete roofing systems that include these essential starter strips.  But don’t take our word for it, check out what our many enthusiastic customers say!  Call us today ((253) 544-3651) or complete our online estimate form for your free roofing estimate.  We want you to have the peace of mind that comes with one of our beautiful new roofs!

7 thoughts on “What Is The Purpose Of Roofing Starter Shingles?”

  1. We were told that starter strips were not required or recommended for the Pacific Northwest by an installer who is a “Master Elite” contractor. Is this accurate?

    1. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by starter strips, but GAF does require a starter course of shingles. The name of their starter course is Pro-Start. Underneath the starter course is metal flashing that is typically referred to as eaves starter metal. The common stock size is 1” x 3” with a 3/8ths hem. I hope this clarifies.

  2. Thanks for one marvelous posting! I enjoyed reading it; you are a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and may come back someday. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

  3. What are your options if you find out that your contractor did not use a starter strip when replacing your roof post Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fl

    1. Chase Construction North West

      If there are no starter shingles along the perimeter edge, it would be extremely difficult to try to slide starter shingles in under the first course due to the fact the shingles are nailed along the tar line, which is approximately 5.5 to 6 inches above the edge of the shingle. In turn with the shingle being hung into the gutter an inch and a half to two inches, you could be looking at approximately 3 inches from the edge of the back of the gutter to the nail line.

      A most intrusive manner besides tearing off the entire roof would be to remove 2 courses of shingle along the entire perimeter edge, installing eave starter perimeter edge metal, installing starter shingle, then reinstalling the 2 courses that were removed. A least intrusive manner would be to take a peel and stick ice and water shield or a waterproof synthetic hybrid underlayment and slip it underneath the existing bottom course, creating a barrier between the existing plywood and underlayment and the first course of shingle, so if and when the first course leaks between the butted joints, there will be protection all the way down and into the gutter.

      Obviously the least intrusive way is not a manufacturer warranty-able option because it is not installed to manufacturer’s specifications, but it would be an option that is makeshift and would work for the time being. If the home was to be inspected by a home inspector for bank purposes, I would assume it would not pass unless you properly installed starter shingles.

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