Aside from paint, nothing will add more to your dollhouse’s exterior appearance than a good shingle job. As you prepare to put your dollhouse together, it is important to think about what kind of roofing will look best, whether or not you want to dye your shingles, and how to attach them to your dollhouse.
Types of Roofing
Most dollhouse kits already come with all the shingles you need. Unless otherwise specified, they are usually rectangular. If you are looking for a different shape, octagonal shingles can provide a unique look to your dollhouse. Some distributors also carry other shapes, such as square, fishscale, or diamond, and a few even have non-wood roofing materials available: tin or aluminum roofing, adobe or Spanish tiles, and asphalt and slate tiles. However, using the shingles provided in your kit is the most economical option, and the results are usually just as beautiful as any other type of roofing. Note: the instructions for dying and attaching shingles below apply specifically to wooden shingles.
If you do decide to use wooden shingles, you will want to consider purchasing shingle dye. It is inexpensive, and makes a big difference as far as appearance goes. There are two colors available: red-brown and gray. The red-brown dye is rich in color and adds a lot of warmth to your dollhouse exterior. The gray dye is more discreet, and draws less attention to the dollhouse roof.
Shingle dye comes with instructions, but we will also describe the process here. First, be aware that the dying process requires 2-3 days, so be sure to complete it before you want to add the shingles to your dollhouse. Materials you will need include:
- o A large piece of cardboard (for 1000 shingles, you will want at least a 2’x3′ piece), or several smaller pieces
- o Two plastic gallon milk containers
- o A set of rubber gloves (the dye kit comes with one, but you may want to have another one so that you can work with two hands)
When you are ready to dye, place the cardboard in a well-lit working area and have your shingles handy. Cut off the tops of the milk containers so that you will be able to fit your fist inside. Also, you will be pouring the dye from one container to the other, so you might want to make a notch in each milk container. Following the directions on the dye kit, add the dye and water to one of the milk containers. Then, add a handful of shingles to the milk container. After about a minute, pour the dye into the empty container. Then, wearing gloves, place each shingle on the cardboard so that it can dry out. Repeat the process until all the shingles have been dyed; this will usually take 1-2 hours. The drying process will take about 48 hours to complete.
One thing to keep in mind as you are dying: the longer the shingles are immersed in the dye, the richer and darker the color will be. So, if you’d prefer to just tint your shingles, make sure to pour the dye out after about 30 seconds, and spread out the shingles as quickly as possible. If you want the color to be deeper, you can leave the shingles in the dye for an extra minute or so.
Adhering Shingles To Your Dollhouse
Before you attach the shingles, you will want to draw shingle guidelines on all roof surfaces. This will ensure that your shingle rows will be straight. All dollhouse kits will come with specific measurements for the guidelines.
When you are ready to attach the shingles, keep in mind a few principles: shingle from the bottom up, and start every other row with a half shingle so that a good overlapping pattern forms. Rather than putting glue on each shingle, lay down a thin line of glue across the entire row, and attach the shingles one at a time. This prevents clumps of glue from oozing between the cracks, and helps keep your rows straight. Most dollhouses have interesting rooflines–depending on your dollhouse, you may have to work around windows, balconies, chimneys, dormers, corners, or other unique features. Have an X-acto knife ready, and once your shingle row abuts one of these features, cut the next shingle to fit the space available. Often, the entire top row will need to be cut to the right size.
We have found that the best material for attaching shingles is Liquid Nails, a type of glue. It can be found in most stores with other heavy-duty glues. One thing to keep in mind is that you will only need a thin line of glue, so be sure that the hole you poke in the opening of the glue tube is quite small.