I finally had a chance to start adding the shingles to the dollhouse roof.
And when I say “start,” I mean start. As is true with everything related to this project, it took some time. Like way more than I expected. And, as always, it included a few newbie mistakes.
So, here’s what I learned, and here’s how to shingle a dollhouse roof.
Back It Up to the Shingle Lines
A looong while back, I marked the shingle lines. As you recall (or have now read), getting the lines in the right place is exceedingly important. If you don’t place the shingles in the right spot, you’ll end up with, well, a roof that doesn’t work.
Not a good look.
So, I spent a lot of time making sure I got those lines absolutely right. And, I totally did, and it made a huge difference.
How to Shingle a Dollhouse Roof
Step 1: Mark your shingle lines
See above. But, remember, it’s crucial to get it right.
Here’s me checking the lines with the shingles before I glue them down. Think of it as a dry fit:
And what it should look like when I’m done:
A nice, neat, overlapping row of shingles.
Step 2: Choose your glue
I have zero experience with liquid nails but a lot of experience with wood glue. And though Real Good Toys recommends liquid nails for this project, I decided to go with wood glue. Why?
First, like I said, experience. I knew exactly what I was getting into, how quickly the glue would tack and cure, and how runny the glue is. I do not know any of those things when it comes to liquid nails. So, there’s the devil you know and…
Second, the wood glue is already open. Might as well use it up. And, if it turns out I hate the liquid nails, I’m not stuck with an open container of it.
Lastly, as many of you know, tacky glue is my go-to and my favorite (thus far). But, the long tack time made me a little nervous. I was concerned that the tacky glue would take too long to tack (and cure), resulting in shingles slipping and sliding off the roof.
Also, not a good look.
While wood glue has a longish tack time, it’s not nearly as long as tacky glue. And, it has a heck of a bond.
Step 2 1/2: Prep your surface
A long time back, I thought about adding dormers to the roof. Specifically, I was going to cut two holes in the roof to let in more light on the second level. To help make that happen, I created two fake dormer templates and attached them to the roof:
I’ve decided I’m not going that route. It is very dark on the second floor, and if this were a real house, I’d add dormers. But, I’d also hire professionals to add those for me. In this case, I’m the contractor, roofer, tile person, and so on, so… Yeah. I guess it’s possible, but right now, I have neither the skills nor the tools to make this dollhouse kit bash happen. So, for now, there will be a lot of artificial lighting.
That means removing the fake dormers.
Once again, it left tape marks. One day, I’m going to figure out why this keeps happening and how to stop it.
Step 3: Glue the shingles onto the dollhouse roof
In some respects, it really is that simple.
I could have laid a bead line then slapped the shingles onto said bead line. But, because I used wood glue, I’m glad I did not go that route. Wood glue is rather runny, and I sincerely doubt I would have made it from one end of the roof to the other without a major wood glue or shingle mishap.
Instead, I put the glue right on the shingle then attached it to the roof:
Step 4: Repeat across the roof
Yup. Place glue. Add shingle. Repeat.
Come On! Is It Really That Simple?
But, this is me we’re talking about, so it’s never really that simple.
First, glue is sticky
You knew that. So do I. But, man!
It took a lot of effort to get the cap off the wood glue bottle, which I find ironic because it’s a plastic bottle. I ended up getting out a potholder for extra grip.
Here’s what was on the inside of the cap:
Gross, I know, but it’s just dried glue, and it doesn’t even look that sticky.
The key roof corner piece
Much like the tile floor, getting the first shingle and first row correct is paramount to getting the rest of the roof right.
Here’s where I put the first shingle. Don’t mind the fuzz or excess glue:
As you can see, that isn’t perfectly aligned. It might look that way from the top, but the left side and bottom are not lined up. So, I grabbed a different shingle to help push everything into place.
To end up with this:
Then, I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more before laying the next shingle. I wanted to be sure the glue had tacked before I moved on to the next shingle. This was a wise strategy I did not follow later.
Repeat for the third shingle
It looks a little like shingle number three is not lined up correctly, but it is. It just happens to be a little longer than the other two. This doesn’t worry me. That part will be covered by the shingler layer that goes above, and consequently, over it.
How to shingle a dollhouse roof: The rest of the roof
Then it was a simple matter of glue, stick, wait. Glue, stick, wait. What’s interesting is, as I checked back over the first row, I saw that one of the shingles had curled up a bit.
I was able to push it back into place, so it’s fine. But then, as I was checking the rest of the row, I noticed a slight gap between some of them.
I was able to fix a few, but not all of them. The glue had already tacked and, well, that’s that. It’s not like I need these to work in the rain, so I’m going with it.
But that’s when I realized that things didn’t look quite right.
Side to almost side
The first thing I forgot about was that the width of the roof isn’t meant to have an even number of shingles. I panicked like you would not believe when I realized I would have a gap at the end of the roofline.
Then I realized, oh yeah, that’s right (and makes sense). A real roof has overlapping shingles that are offset and doesn’t have straight shingle rows. And when it comes to how to shingle a dollhouse roof, it’s no different.
So, when I got to the end, I grabbed a shingle and some scissors and trimmed until I got the right width. It took a few tries, but I got it eventually.
And now I have a nifty leftover piece that should more or less fit on the other side.
Then, as I was working on things, I realized something didn’t look right at the top of the roof. So, I laid the shingles down and held them with my hand. Here’s what I found:
It’s hard to tell, so here’s a close up:
So, all the other shingles line up and overlap perfectly. But this top row… If you take away the other shingles and hold up one shingle to that last line:
It looks right, maybe?
I checked, and that is right, but I laid them down wrong in that direction. There’s supposed to be a gap. The last layer (or top row) of shingles is a row of sideways shingles cut in half. Like in a real house.
Sigh. Realism. It may kill me.
It took me about an hour to do the first row. That was, in many respects, by design. I wanted to make absolutely sure the first line was solid before starting the second.
Not so flat
As I was prepping to do the second line, I realized I needed to figure out what to do about the glue. On the first row, I did a bead line on the top and the bottom of the shingle to give it some extra staying power. While I could do the same for the second row, I realized that might not work. Here’s why:
I’m holding that with my finger. But, as you can see, there’s a gap because, well, overlapping shingles.
Here’s what happens when I hold the other end:
Still a gap, only worse.
And the thing about wood glue (and a lot of glues, really) is that you have to hold or clamp things down while they tack and possibly cure. I guess there’s a way to do that with painter’s tape, but I decided not to go that route and did a single line of glue on the top of the shingle.
I stand by my choice but…
Picky but not sticky
Here are the first three shingles of the second line
You have no idea how long it took me to get it to that.
I guess I got a little too ambitious or, perhaps, confident in my shingle-laying ability. But, I laid the first shingle, then the second, then the third. I didn’t wait nearly as long as I should have for the glue to tack. As I was laying the third one, the first one popped up or shifted. So, I fixed that one, and the third one got ornery. So, I’d fix that one, and then the second one would say “I wanna play” and slide out of place, and the first one would join, and then I wanted to cry.
This is likely because I A) didn’t add the second line of glue, and B) got impatient and tried to add shingles before the glue had sufficiently tacked.
So, the second row was very, very, very slow. Like, a total of two hours slow.
Totally worth it, though.
The Finished Results
So, three hours later, here’s what I had:
Yup. That looks awesome if I do say so myself.
There’s still a ways to go on this, but it’s an easy project (compared to everything else to this point) and something I can do while doing something else (like watching TV).
So, here’s what I would say about how to shingle a dollhouse roof.
Wood glue is awesome and works, but the slow tack and cure time makes it not as ideal as something with a faster tack and cure time (like, maybe, liquid nails). It depends on how much time and patience you have.
Go slow. You’ll hate yourself if you don’t.
Remember the instructions. Like, you’ll have to cut a few end pieces. Things like that.
Overall, though, my favorite project thus far!
As always, there’s a helpful infographic below for the quick hits. And, if you have any opinions on how to shingle a dollhouse roof, let me know in the comments!