How to Remove Roof Shingles


Broken, curling shingles spell trouble for any homeowner. There may or may not be actual leaks present in the actual roof at the time, but there are sure to be in the future if repairs aren’t made. Roof repair and replacement both start with one major step  –  removing roof shingles.

Those that are really looking to take on this project themselves should first get a detailed set of instructions from the roofing manufacturers. This set of instructions is strictly to get an idea of the process. We are not responsible for any accidents, warranty voids or mishandling. We highly recommend allowing professionals, like ourselves, to replacing your roofs. We offer the best warranties and coverage, aside from manufacturers, for replacement roofs that are available to homeowners in the New England area.

This is one method of removing two layers of shingles from a simple, gabled low-pitched roof measuring about 14 feet by 42 feet on each plane, or just about 1200 square feet. It’s worth noting, though, that projects of this magnitude are beyond the skill level of many homeowners, so it is a good idea to consult with professional contractors before undertaking any roof removal project.

Tools and Materials Needed:001-resized-600

– Flat-Blade Shovel

– Hammer

– Nails

– Pitchfork

– Pry Bar

– Shingle Removal Scraper

– Utility Trailer, Tarps

First, a tool called a shingle scraper will be needed. This is similar to a flat-blade shovel, except it has some very big teeth. A triangular “heel” is welded to the bottom, and this acts as a ramp to pivot the scraper, which then pushes under the shingles and lifts them from the roof. The shingle scraper can also be used to pry up the roofing nails.

Some older roofs will have a strip of sheet metal along the lower edge. Most roofing professionals today recommend that this be taken off. The roof shingle scraper is able to get under the sheet metal’s edge and pry it up.

In the absence of a shingle scraper, a flat-blade garden shovel may also be used to remove roof shingles. A common garden pitchfork may also be useful for removing the top layer of shingles, but it cannot easily be used to take off the bottom layer.

It generally takes four people working all together about two hours to completely remove the shingles off a roof about 1200 square feet in size.

Once the roof shingles come off, they have to somehow be disposed of, and this is one of the most difficult parts of the shingle removing process. Asphalt shingles are heavy. Even the cheapest shingle grades weigh around 225 pounds per 100 square feet. It is helpful to have a large dumpster at the ready to make the roof shingle disposal easier.

Even after the main roof shingles come off, there will be bits of shingle stuck to the wood. There will also be numerous roofing nails that will either need to be removed or pounded down. A rip-claw hammer is a great tool for this task. It can easily remove any remaining roofing debris and pull out nails that are still in the wood. This usually takes about an hour for the whole roof.

It should not be surprising to see many boards that sheathed loose nails. Be sure to hammer down all these nails. Older roofs, especially, will be composed mostly of 1×10 wooden planks. This was common before the widespread use of plywood for roof and floor sheathing.

Follow the roof boards down to where the rafters are. There should be many rusty nails visible at this point.

As a final step, drive in eight-penny nails for securing the roof sheathing boards to the rafters. This will help prepare the roof for the next steps in the repair process. It is recommended that one or two nails be used for each ten-inch-wide board on each rafter.

It would be wise to keep in mind that this is not a project for the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer, or even for someone more experienced without any outside help. Mistakes happen often when nonprofessionals try to do a job like this, and installation mistakes result in voided warranties, making for an incredibly costly error. Homeowners should consult with the professionals at United Home Experts before undertaking any project of this magnitude to get free estimates on home roof repair.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *