They can be made of various materials from birch veneer, cedar or asphalt. They can also come in strips or as individuals in a bag.
The most common miniature shingles are made of two types of wood, birch veneer or cedar. Birch veneer is thin and smooth and is usually used on tab and slot dollhouses. Cedar is thicker and has a “ribbed” surface. These are usually used on cabinet grade dollhouses. Both are applied in the same way.
You can view the Standard Shingling Guide, courtesy of Greenleaf Dollhouses, to get an overview of the shingling process.
If you plan on shingling your roof without templates, always paint your roof in the same color as you plan on painting or staining your shingles, so that you do not see raw wood between them.
If your roof has a lot of angles, you will benefit from applying your shingles using templates. Templates allow for you to cut the shingles for your roof angles easily, quickly and smoothly.
You first need to make the shingle templates from your roof panels. You can make the templates from any type of paper you want but I recommend postal paper because it’s inexpensive, it’s dark colored and it comes in large rolls, so its long lasting.
You can trace your unassembled roof panels, onto paper, before you begin your dollhouse. This is the easiest method but your traced templates will never match up exactly with your assembled roof panels. This is because some panels overlap others entirely and/or their edges may sit on top of other panels. Chimneys, skylights and other architectural features may also be in the way. This will end up in you having to trim or modify your pre-cut paper templates for the perfect fit, just when you thought you had completed them. I find that there is less confusion, if you just wait and make your templates after the dollhouse roof is assembled.
When you make your templates, make sure you carefully mark their front and backs and what panel they are for. That way you do not accidentally shingle the wrong side.
Creating A Paper Template
Lay a piece of paper down on the roof panel and crease it with your fingertips around the edges. Cut with scissors and then dry fit the template, so you’re sure you have the perfect fit.
If your paper rolls up on you, roll it in the opposite direction and hold it that way for awhile, until it lays flat. Your paper does not have to be perfect because it will be hidden underneath shingles, so don’t be afraid of wrinkles or slight damage.
Label each template, so you know what panel it belongs to and which side is the front.
Draw shingle lines on your templates with a pencil. These will be the guide marks on where to position your row of shingles. Shingles are applied staggered and each row overlaps the bottom row. The width of the shingle lines are completely up to you and your preferred look. The general rule of thumb is that your guidelines should be no less than one half the length of one shingle or approximately 3/4″ of an inch, for birch veneer shingles. A great “ruler” guide is a birch veneer siding strip.
Draw your lines from the bottom of your template to the top. Make sure they are straight and that all of your templates have identical, matching lines, so that your shingles meet evenly at gable joints.
Use hot melt glue to begin applying your shingles from the bottom of the template working your way up, following your guidelines. If you made your guidelines correctly, your first row of shingles overhang the bottom edge of your template.
After the first row is laid down, hot glue the second row of shingles using the pencil lines as a guide. This will make each row of shingles slightly overlap the row underneath, as you move upwards on your panel. You also want to alternately stagger your shingles with each row.
Hot melt glue is the best way to glue down shingles. You can use wood, tacky or white glue as well but it will make the process take unnecessarily longer and water based glues will warp your shingles. This will make drying times long and there’s a possibility that your shingles will shift out of place. Shingles are not holding up any structural parts of your dollhouse, so there is no reason to not use hot melt glue for this process.
Once your panel is complete, rub all the glue “spiderwebs” off of your shingles. I recommend you use a stiff bristle brush for this because you want to make sure your shingled templates are thoroughly clear of these “webs”. They will interfere with the application of stain or paint, so be meticulous in the removal process.
Turn your template over, so the backside is visible and you can see the shingles that are hanging off the edges of your template. Use sharp shears, scissors or a utility knife to cut them flush to the template. You are now left with a perfectly shingled replica of your roof panel. Make sure you don’t cut off the first rows, bottom overhanging edge.
Using the template method will make shingling your roof come out perfect every time, no matter how many angles your roof may have.