Starter Shingles. Cut off tabs, or leave them in place?

Any commentary on whether you should cut the tabs off three tabs when making starter shingles, or just install the whole three tap upside down with the tabs facing the ridge?


Installing starters upside down without cutting off the exposure is the hack way and it’s wrong.

If you are using metric shingles your starters need to be metric also.
Standard size shingles are too small (for a metric roof), even if you cut off the exposure.
By too small I mean that they are neither long enough nor wide enough.

Bought Landmarks, and the Certainteed 3 tab equivalent in a close color.

If you are installing 3 tabs then yes cut them off, and install with the cut off end at the bottom. That way your shingles will have a tar strip at the correct location for your first coarse to seal to. Most times you can actually save those cut off tabs for your top row also.

Oh you are installing Landmarks. In that case don’t cut them because if you do they will be to small, 3 tabs are shorter than archs in both width and height. Plus archs have the tar strip on the back so you don’t need to worry about the tar strip on the starter. If you are gonna use 3 tabs for starters on a landmark roof just put them down. But me personally I just cut a landmark shingle in half and use the top for a starter and the bottom for my top row. No waste plus they are the same length so no need to worry about your splices ending up to close together as long as you start them properly.

Return the 3-tabs for a refund.

You can get premade starters called swiftstart.

Or you can use the field shingles and cut off the exposure, the part that is cut off set off to the side and use it for the very last course at the ridge.

It’s helpful to keep them out of the sun.

Cutting the starters the right way is harder than the easy way

The hard way and the laminated portion of the shingle will be part of the starter, it looks better also.

The easy way is to follow the obvious line on the back of the shingle in which the laminated portion won’t be part of the starter.

The easy way is right if you lower the exposure of the first course, it’s important to maintain a 2" headlap, the closer to the eave you are the more important the headlap is.

so for starters it’s critical.

It’s cheaper to cut them out of field shingles.

I’m sure all that was about as clear as mud…

This week I had to replace about 110 linear feet of decking all along the eves because the “roofer” used a “starter” shingle that was about 3" wide.

If you can swing it, get the Swiftstart as Axiom suggested. It will cost a little more, but will save you piles of valuable time.

Excellent advice. The distributor delivered the shingles and I added the Certainteed starters. Worth every penny in not having to cut anything (other than what’s necessary to stagger the joints).

Thanks for saving me a ton of hassle.