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LEGO shingles & roofing techniques

by admin on January 24, 2017

in Building Techniques

Some of the first LEGO sets were houses, which means that besides basic LEGO bricks, standard LEGO slopes are some of the oldest pieces. The 1×2, 2×2, 2×3 and 2×4 stud slopes, the 2×2 convex corner slope (for outer corners), the 2×2 concave corner slope (for inner corners), and the 1×2, 1×2, 1×3 and 1×4 size roof caps have been around since the mid-1950s, and are still heavily used to this date.

Besides basic slope bricks to build roofs, both LEGO designers and LEGO fans have been coming up with a number of other roofing techniques. Some take advantage of newer LEGO pieces, while others use standard LEGO elements in clever ways. The new curved slope pieces, the small 1×1 and 1×2 “cheese” slopes, and even the 1×1 round bricks are popular choices for roofing. Even simple plates and tiles can be angled to create a sloped roof effect. Below I will show you a few interesting roofing techniques that I have run across that you might like. 🙂

LEGO ROOF WITH CURVED SLOPES: This is a technique used in a number of official LEGO sets. The #10243 LEGO Creator Parisian Restaurant is one of the best examples. You can study the instruction manual for this set to learn how to use this technique. One important feature to notice is that the curved slopes are staggered to break up the smoothness of the surface and give it some texture. Otherwise the slopes are too smooth and would look unnatural.

LEGO ROOF WITH PLATES: One of the easiest and most cost-effective way to build a roof is to just use two large plates in an A-frame shape, with studs facing out. You can add a few tiles, cheese slopes, or even some vegetation to make the surface more interesting. A good example is the #71006 LEGO Simpsons House. If you use the large plates with the tubes facing out, you can get a different texture for variety. An interesting technique is to insert yellow or tan minifig hands into the tubes for a straw roof effect as demonstrated by Geneva in the second picture below.

LEGO ROOF WITH GARAGE DOORS: This is quite an unusual technique used in the #70751 LEGO Ninjago Temple of Airjitzu. Because the garage door panels are flexible, you can create pretty much any round shape, by simple fixing the garage doors at the peak of the roof, and then draping them over the rest of the building.

LEGO ROOF SHINGLES WITH TILES: Standard LEGO tiles can be used as roof shingles. However if you just place them flat on a plate, they will look too smooth (like a tile floor). Staggering the plates is one way to make them appear more realistic, or you can also stack them (first image below by Siercon & Coral – video tutorial here). Tilting the plates is another way to break up their smooth surface for a corrugated roof effect (second image by Tim Gould). Another nice technique is to use round tiles, which gives the roof a storybook-like look (third image by Parks and Wrecked Creations).

LEGO ROOF SHINGLES WITH CHEESE SLOPES: 1×1 and 1×2 “cheese” slopes are fairly new pieces, and they are excellent for roofing because of their shape and myriad of color choices. They can be simply attached to an angled plate, or you can use a more advanced technique, as pictured below by The Brick Time Team. This solution works particularly well on medieval buildings and small shacks.

LEGO ROOF SHINGLES WITH MODIFIED SLOPES: This technique was shared by LEGO designer Mark Stafford, using some of the newish 2×2 modified slopes with cutouts. The final result is similar than what you can achieve with the 1×1 cheese-slopes.

LEGO ROOF SHINGLES WITH ROUND BRICKS: This technique is very popular for Asian and Mediterranean style buildings. In an official LEGO set an excellent example is the #10232 LEGO Creator Palace Cinema. Because the round bricks have hollow studs, you can push a rod through them to add more rigidity. And if you want a more curved effect, like on an Asian buildings, you can run a flexible tube through the round bricks, and prop up the bottom rows. (Second image by Paul Trach.) A variation of this technique is to use 1×1 cone pieces instead of round bricks, as demonstrated by o0ger in the third picture below.

LEGO ROOF SHINGLES WITH FLIPPERS: LEGO minifig flippers happen to make great roof shingles, as you can see in the image below by Barney Main. Flippers are particularly great for shacks, cottages and debilitated houses. They come in a number of useful colors like black, light-gray, blue, dark-purple, red, yellow, black, orange and lime, so you have plenty of options for roofing.

LEGO ROOF SUPPORT WITH LADDERS: This technique was shared by LEGO fan Adeel Zubair. It is used with standard LEGO roof pieces, which are quite sturdy on their own, but by adding one-piece staircases under the roof the structure gets additional support, plus the staircases mimic the look of rafters, as demonstrated on the picture below. If you plan to make the inside of an attic visible, this is a great solution.

As you can see, there are many ways to make LEGO roofs, from simple to elaborate, pretty much being able to imitate all real-life roofing styles. The techniques mentioned above are well-established and have been successfully used by a number of LEGO fans. There are also many esoteric methods using pieces in clever ways that I haven’t covered here, and of course you can also experiment on your own.

What do you think? Do you have any favorite LEGO roofing techniques from official LEGO sets or from other LEGO fans? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

PrashBricks January 24, 2017 at 11:53 AM

I like them all, but the palace cinema way is my favorite!

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admin January 24, 2017 at 3:18 PM

Yes, that’s a very nice technique. 🙂

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ryguy3295 January 24, 2017 at 2:59 PM

More content like this please! Really useful article!

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admin January 24, 2017 at 3:21 PM

Okay, sure. And if you have any suggestions/requests on what you would like to see covered, feel free to share! 🙂

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Phil January 24, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Great article, the thing i have come to love as a AFOL is the many different techniques used for building and I find myself wanting to try different techniques when rebuilding the same model.

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jjava January 25, 2017 at 7:04 AM

Roof is definitely one of the hardest thing for me since I don’t want them to all look “essentially the same”. The shingles is also my favorite. I have a couple of ideas in mind but I need to find time to see if I can execute them.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 1:27 PM

That’s a good point. If you are building a large city or medieval town, you don’t want all the roofs to look the same. So having a handful of solid techniques that you mastered is very useful.

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Swiftpaw January 25, 2017 at 12:30 PM

The garage doors for the temple roof is also clever because it gives a similar appearance to the roofing of the era ninjas populated too.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 1:36 PM

Yes, that’s the idea. I have to say though that it is a pretty flimsy construction compared to other roofing techniques, as the garage door is only clipped in at the top, and then just drapes over the top of the walls. You have to make sure that the walls are strong enough to hold themselves up without additional support from the roof. In the Temple set, the market is definitely the weakest building that tends to fall apart easily. The blacksmith’s shop on the other side is much stronger.

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gid617 January 25, 2017 at 1:46 PM

Great article, it’s always neat to see the different techniques developed by builders. There are so many intriguing ways to build roofs… I thought I’d share a couple that might have made the article too long but are still really interesting, like this one using technic pins:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/91596610@N03/17321060264/in/dateposted/
this one using the new shield tiles:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/legols/31204819950/in/dateposted/
or this cathedral with a fantastic dome roof:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/moctown/21891759546/in/faves-82336002@N02/
or the SNOT bricks roof option which works well especially for modern buildings:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gid617/24766688261/in/dateposted/

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admin January 25, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Oh, those are nice! I have seen a gray version of the Technic pin roof, which was interesting, but it looks so much better in black! I also like the one with the shields. Domed roofs could actually make a separate article, as they are even more difficult than regular roofs, and not easy to pull off. Your SNOT roof is great! Interesting that more people don’t use the technique as it is simple and effective. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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gid617 January 25, 2017 at 2:24 PM

Yeah, the shield roof is awesome but it could be tricky to get enough of them! And I really need to try out the technic pin style one of these days.
Thanks! I have seen a few SNOT roofs like that here and there but mine was easiest to find. 😛 And thanks for the shoutout with the hand roof above BTW! 😉
Domed roofs and cone tower roofs can be a tremendous pain to get right! Especially on a small circular tower… I’ve only stumbled on one technique that was practical with my collection and even that used purple bricks so it wouldn’t work too well for most builds!

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admin January 25, 2017 at 2:34 PM

The shields seem to become a staple part that has been appearing in a number of sets and themes, so I’ sure larger quantities for cheaper prices will be available soon enough. The technique looks nice. I put on the list to write an article about curved roofs, but as you said, they are very challenging. Techniques for very large roofs is easier, but for smaller buildings it is definitely a pain. I do remember some good ones, but I never organized my flickr galleries based on roof techniques. It would take me a while to track down some of the best and most reasonable solutions.

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Tom January 26, 2017 at 2:55 AM

There is also an excellent thread on Eurobricks on roofing techniques including some of the ones mentioned above. Link is here

http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?/forums/topic/34961-roof-techniques/#entry2126224

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admin January 26, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Tom, thank for sharing that! Nice discussion! There are a few listed there I haven’t seen before.

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