How To Remove Roof Shingles: A Step By Step Guide

To extend the life of your roof and protect your home from water damage, you need to periodically remove and replace roof shingles. While this is something all homeowners are aware of, we do not usually do it on time because it can be an expensive home maintenance task to complete.

However, replacing shingles as and when they need to be repaired is a cheaper task than a full re-roofing project, so it is worth it if you have the time, and removing them yourself is a way to make things even cheaper.

Whether in the center of Clinton, NJ or elsewhere in the greater Hunterdon County area, you can rely on us to deliver a dumpster as soon as possible (even today) to keep your project moving forward smoothly.

In this guide, we are sharing step by step instructions on how to remove roof shingles yourself so you can protect your home from water damage while also saving money.

What You Need To Remove Roof Shingles

To remove the roof shingles yourself, there are some tools you will need. 

Most of these will be things you already own if you are a homeowner, but they can also be found at your local home improvement store if necessary.

  • Sturdy ladders
  • Hammer (one per person)
  • Hammer tacker (at least two)
  • Roofing nails
  • Staples
  • Pry bar (at least two)
  • Adjustable roof jacks
  • Plywood sheets (enough to lean against roof jacks, plus extra)
  • Chalk line
  • Tarps
  • Garden fork/roofing shovel (one per person)
  • Push brooms (at least two)

You may also want to get roofing felt and an ice/water barrier.

When removing roof shingles, make sure you are wearing the correct safety gear, such as thick-soled boots with good grip, long pants, and work gloves to protect your skin.

Goggles should be worn to protect your eyes as shedding roof shingles causes granules which can be dangerous.

How To Remove Roof Shingles

  • Prep Your Property

When removing shingles from the roof, you will need a reliable waste disposal method like a dumpster from Eagle Dumpster Rental. As well as preparing for the waste, you will need to protect your home when doing this work.

Any shingles that fall from the roof or do not make it to the dumpster can cause damage to your property, so you should be prepared for this. Place plywood sheets over any outside units, such as the air conditioner (after turning the unit off first), against windows, and near the bin. 

Use tarps to cover surrounding shrubs or other landscaping elements that you want to protect around the perimeter of your home. Set up your ladders in a stable and safe place before getting to work, ensuring they will remain in place throughout.

The last step here is to set up roof jacks, which are steel anchors that fasten to the roof and can hold the planks for you to walk on. These are vital for safety, so make sure they are secured properly and that you have used solid planks that can hold your weight.

  • Start Tearing Off Shingles

Start at the peak of the section of your roof that is farthest away from your dumpster and move inwards as your progress.

Using the shovel or fork, work under the ridge caps (the shingles at the peak of the roof) and pry them loose. Once they have become loose, allow them to slide down to the jacks so they can be collected later.

After you have pried the caps, you will need to work down the roof removing shingles in two to three-foot sections. Use the same method on all of the caps, prising your shovel under the shingles and felt paper and allowing them to fall onto the jacks. 

Do not worry if some of the nails remain on the roof, as these will be dealt with later.

  • Toss The Shingles As You Work

When you have worked your way down to the jacks, gather all of the discarded shingles and throw them into the dumpster.

Shingles are heavy, which is why a dumpster is the best solution for this kind of waste. Make sure to collect small groups of shingles to dispose of at a time so you can do it yourself. 

Having a dumpster on site makes it easy to throw away heavy shingles as you work, so they do not become overwhelming to deal with.

  • Evaluate The Flashing

Once the shingles have been removed, you will be able to inspect the flashing. 

Flashing is the thin pieces of material that direct water away from your home, and flashing can become damaged over time or throughout the process of removing shingles. Signs of wear, such as cracks, rust, or holes, will need to be addressed, but flashing without this can be reused with your new shingles.

If you are going to keep your flashing to reuse, take some time to remove the nails that remain. Once this is done, bend it up and back using your crowbar so you can get the shingles underneath.

  • Remove Valley and Vent Flashing

Once you have removed all of the shingles, it is time to remove the flashing that remains.

To do this, start at the top of the valley and pry the flashing loose by pulling up, working your way downwards. Make sure to remove the lashing from all vents too.

  • Repeat On All Sections

To remove all shingles, repeat these steps on each section until the roof is completely bare.

Once the roof is bare, you can move on to replacing the roof shingles as needed. 


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