The do it yourself resource for homeowners from home improvement professionals.

How to Remove Roof Shingles

Replacing an old roof starts with tearing off the old shingles. Learning how to remove roof shingles involves manual labor, but a few tricks of the trade speed up the process. Be sure to follow the preparation tips to cut down on time spent on clean-up. You should also observe all safety guidelines because roof work always poses the risk of falling.

A garden fork or tear off spade is an acceptable alternative to a special roofing shovel as they are more commonly-owned items.

How to Remove Roof Shingles Step By Step

Prepare the Area:

  1. Obtain a building permit if required in your area.
  2. Select a time to work when the weather forecast is dry.
  3. Rent a dumpster at least 20 cubic yards in size and have it positioned close to your home if possible.
  4. Spread tarps around the edge of the house to catch nails and debris.
  5. Disconnect power to your air conditioner and cover the top with a board.
  6. Place roof jacks about 3 feet up from the eaves and nail them to rafters below your work area with 16d nails.
  7. Nail 2 x 10 lumber onto the roof jacks
  8. Attach your safety harness to the top ridge of the roof and connect yourself to it.

Removing the Asphalt Shingles:

  1. Using the roofing shovel or garden fork, tear off the ridge cap.
  2. Work the shovel beneath the top course of shingles and felt paper.
  3. Lift up 2 to 3-foot sections at a time.
  4. Let chunks of torn-up shingles slide down to the roof jacks.
  5. Sections that don’t slide down may be carried to the dumpster and tossed in.
  6. Repeat this process as you work downward toward the roof jacks.
  7. When debris builds up along the roof jacks, carry it to the dumpster.
  8. Once you reach the roof jacks, take them out.
  9. Pry up remaining courses of shingles with the shovel but leave them sitting there.
  10. Go to the eaves, and pry shingles and paper up with a pry bar.
  11. All the shingles should be loose now, and you can pull them off the roof.
  12. An ice-and-water barrier along the roof edge that refuses to lift off may be left in place.
  13. Pull out remaining nails on the roof.
  14. Sweep the entire roof clean.

Special how-to notes for roof flashing:

  1. Check condition of flashing along chimneys, skylights, exterior walls, or dormers.
  2. Flashing free of rust, cracks, or excessive tar may be kept.
  3. Carefully pry out nails on flashing.
  4. Tear out shingles and underlayment along flashing.
  5. Always tear out and replace vent flashing and valley flashing.

Tools & Materials

  • Adjustable roof jacks
  • Roof harness
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber-soled shoes/boots
  • Extension ladder
  • Roofing shovel
  • Cat's paw nail puller
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Push broom

Get Help From Our Professional Roofers

Speed matters when you tear off a roof because wet weather could come in suddenly and cause issues. The professional roofers at PJ Fitzpatrick can tear off and install new asphalt shingles quickly for homeowners throughout the Delaware Valley. Before you learn how to remove roof shingles, consider the benefits of hiring us for the job. Ask us for a roofing estimate today.

Need help with this project?

We have trained professionals that can help. Contact us today. 1-877-246-4354

Get Free Estimate