Picture of Dragon Scale Shingles
Years ago I saw a picture on the back of Fine Homebuilding of a backyard building that had a conical roof covered with shingles cut in an organic wavy pattern.  It looked almost thatched or as if it was covered in scales (Dragon Scales?!?).

 At the time I didn't need any roofs for circular buildings but I thought - I could make that and I definitely should if the opportunity arises.  I mentally filed the idea away for future coolness.  Fast forward 15+ years and what do you know?  I've got a circular building that needs a roof!

 The scaly shingle idea wasn't a winner in my wife's mind though.  She never saw the original picture and I guess I wasn't selling my version very well because I never got more than a lukewarm reception to it.  We pondered many ideas for roofing material including used tires or recycled highway signs cut into shingles.   I couldn't shake the vision of that back cover though and in the end the dragon scale idea prevailed.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Ye Olde Materials and Tools Lists

Picture of Ye Olde Materials and Tools Lists
First, you need to calculate the area that you are going to be covering.  If you want, you can be precise and follow the formula in the picture to calculate your roof's can be lazy like me and if there isn't much of a pitch to your roof figure it as a circle and add a bit for height.  (Actually, I just got started and kept buying material as I went)  Because the shingles overlap quite a bit you need to figure on enough material to cover your roof twice at least.  So if you found that you had a roof that was 100 sf you will need roughly 200 sf of roofing material. 

Next, the decision is yours go with real dragon scales or an alternative?  I didn't have any dragons that happened to be shedding available so I chose to go with the next best thing- rolled roofing.  It’s an asphalt material that comes in three foot wide rolls and is one of the cheapest roofing materials per square foot you can use to cover your roof with. You can get it at any big box store.

The only other thing you need is roofing nails.  They are short galvanized nails and you are going to be using a bunch of them.  How many is hard to estimate but you'll get a feel for it as you get into the project.

The tools I used are pretty simple - 

Sheetrock T-square 
Tape measure
Carpenter's pencils- several of these
Tin snips for cutting the roofing
Carpenter's tool belt to hold the nails 

lolson11 year ago
Love it...whether it's dragon scales or 'thatching' it definitely makes it unique and wondrous !
DragonDon1 year ago
Given my nickname, I am obligated to truly appreciate this fine work!
cliqboom1 year ago
Nice, it turned out really cool, and gives me some new ideas for the roof of my Hexa-house design
well done!
Good Explanations and examples. As a builder I've shingled many houses and buildings. But I've yet to have a chance on a round roof though. Like you I'll file this away for a future time and hope my project turns out as kool as this one did!
PitStoP1 year ago
Nice looking roof! Good job!!
How much material did you use and what was the total cost. Thanks for the instructable..
spike3579 (author)  PitStoP1 year ago
it took 10 100 sf rolls @ $50 each so $500 to cover a 600 sf roof.
Spokehedz1 year ago
Oh man, now I want to see this as triangular little cuts, rather than the rolling hills cuts.

Great job, and looks great!
spike3579 (author)  Spokehedz1 year ago
Yeah, triangular cuts could be cool too. I'd love to see other peoples take on this technique.
jack85591 year ago
Wouldn't a utility knife with a hook blade(shingle blade) work better than metal shears? I know that the asphalt on roofing would gum up the cutter after a while and hook blades are cheap... I really like the idea there, nice job.
Another thing, what did you use to build the building out of, is that blocks that you made from adobe or is it something that you bought?
spike3579 (author)  jack85591 year ago
I tried a utility knife with a straight blade at first but the gravel on the roofing dulled the blade very quickly. The building is made out of papercrete which you can see how I made the blocks here.
stephenf1 year ago
Great roof. What is the building's purpose?
spike3579 (author)  stephenf1 year ago
It's going to be a guest house.....someday.
vfx1 year ago
"In addition to cutting the 8′ strips smaller to fit, I found that I also needed to insert small sections of shingle in random spots to add to the pattern and hide wayward nails. Where the ends of the shingles came together I trimmed them so that they were rounded and overlapped them so that the prevailing wind would not peel them off in a storm."

Can you include some photographic representation of this?

Thanks for the cool contribution!
spike3579 (author)  vfx1 year ago
If you look at the detail pictures on the fourth step you can see that the right hand shingles are (generally)overlapping the left hand ones. That's because that is the direction the wind usually comes from.
danzo3211 year ago
Some shingles have glue strips that, when it's hot, glue themselves down. Does roll roofing have these?
spike3579 (author)  danzo3211 year ago
No, I thought I would have to silicone some of the shingle ends down but the nails seem to be enough.
danzo3211 year ago
I don't even know how you built a shallow conical roof!
spike3579 (author)  danzo3211 year ago
A lot of head scratching :-)
It has an inner ring at the top then rafters connecting the ring to the wall. The roof deck (1\2 OSB) holds it all together
mickyra1 year ago
Two slightly different colors would make this even more amazing.
spike3579 (author)  mickyra1 year ago
That's a great idea I had not thought of. It would add even more depth and character to the roof.
Utterly fantastic! Extra points for perseverance!
bob30301 year ago
I think the results are amazing. Beautiful job. Thanks for posting.
Attmos1 year ago
It looks awesome! Did your wife end up liking it?
spike3579 (author)  Attmos1 year ago
Thanks, Yeah she came around once it was done.
mnmama1 year ago
It is a beautiful roof. I could see this looking good on more traditional houses too like the eyebrow windows on Victorian styles, but it's great on your little building.
One thing, could you maybe show the pictures of drawing the lines on the roofing materials a little larger? Couldn't quite follow that part. Would like to see the shape of the strip of shingles you liked best to get this pattern.
All you need is a round door and you could invite a family of Hobbits in! Nice job.