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How to Remove Roof Shingles

When replacing or repairing a single damaged shingle, a flat pry bar is all that you’ll need to break the seal and lift the worn component out of its place. However, if you want to tear down your roof because it’s reached the end of its lifespan, you’ll need to know how to remove multiple roof shingles at once. The right technique will make this a far less labor-intensive process, even as it keeps the roof decking protected from unintentional damage. Keep in mind, however, that shingle removal is not the sole part of a roof tear-down project. You’ll also need a solid plan for debris collection and removal, nail spotting, and addressing ice and water barriers. If you’ve got questions or concerns about shingle removal or if the entire project seems daunting, rest assured that professional roofers can complete this work safely, quickly, efficiently, and with absolutely no mess left behind.

Slope, Road surface, Wood, Asphalt, Sidewalk, Urban design

One important question to ask yourself before digging into this project is whether or not your shingles actually need to be removed. Roofers have successfully installed new shingles over existing shingle layers for years. When roofs are well-built and their shingles remain relatively flat, this may be a worthwhile option to consider. However, tearing old shingles off and starting from scratch certainly has its benefits. This will give you the opportunity to examine the roof decking and other underlying components so that any damages in these areas can be addressed as well. It’s also important to note that the limited warranty coverage provided by many shingle manufacturers requires homeowners to have their old shingle layers removed before shingles are installed.

Setting up Your Work Area for Rapid Shingle Removal

The most common motive for DIY shingle removal is to cut the overall costs of a roof replacement project. For homeowners confident and skilled enough to handle this work, shingle removal is frequently followed by efforts to successfully lay new shingles down. How your roof was built will determine just how easy it is to get shingles off and apply new ones without causing damages to the decking. For some homes, shingles have been applied directly to the decking with no tar paper or other protective barrier between them. If you start trying to scrape or pry these shingles up with your shovel, you may end up causing serious structural damages. Understanding how your roof was built is the best way to prevent issues such as these.

Once you’ve securely attached your ladder to the side of your roof, climb up and take a complete survey of all the work that you’ll have to do. Removing shingles often seems like simple, straightforward work until all the nuances of the individual roof are factored in. Bear in mind that you’ll likely be working on sloped surfaces throughout most of these efforts. Moreover, you’ll have to do a thorough job at all valleys or slope intersections, and around all roof features. The other important factor to consider is that tear-down and replacement projects are usually scheduled back-to-back. This is done to ensure that the roof decking is exposed to the outside elements for the shortest possible amount of time. Thus, if you make up the entirety of your work crew, you may have a hard time getting everything done on schedule.

To streamline your work, make sure that you have the materials for your new roof right nearby. This will allow you to transition from shingle removal to shingle installation with minimal breaks. Next, get ready for debris removal. Have a trash can or dumpster near your work area. With the best setup, you should be able to simply slide discarded shingles directly into your bin without leaving the roof. If not, remember that just four to six shingles can weigh up to 20 pounds. Carrying too many at one time can lead to back strain, falls, and other accidents and injuries. Place tarps around your eaves so that all stray shingles and roof nails are caught.

One large part of your debris removal plan is preparing to safely negotiate the roof’s surface as scraps builds up. You’ll have to walk and work around scrap piles without tripping and falling off. Stubborn shingles that don’t easily lift off are another falling hazard to be cognizant of. If your best prying and lifting efforts don’t release these units easily, the force that you exert could cause you to lose your balance.

The best tool for this job is a modified shovel that’s been designed specifically for shingle removal. This is a shovel-like roofing tool with a serrated edge that effectively grips roof nails. It also has a raised foot for extra leverage when prying and tearing shingles away. You can use this to scrape shingles off in rows as you move upward and then across your roof in an organized fashion. As you go, you may run into an ice and snow barrier. This won’t be possible to remove, even with your modified shovel. Instead, you’ll have to decide whether to apply a new ice and snow barrier over the existing one, or replace all of the underlying decking. When your work is done, you might want to use a magnet or metal detector to find stray nails. This will keep your DIY tear-down from damaging your car’s tires.

If you’re planning a roof replacement and want to sidestep the hard labor and countless other challenges that come with removing your own shingles, we can help. Call us today at 913-850-6556.