Did you know that ripping off shingles is usually recognized as the most challenging part when it comes to re-roofing?

Lucky for you we’ve created a simple step-by-step guide on how to remove shingles safely in 7 simple steps. But first, let’s go over the tools you’ll need to complete the job.

old roof shingle on the roof of house needs replacing; how to remove shingles

Tools Required:

  • Chalk line
  • Hammer
  • Hammer tacker
  • Adjustable roof jacks
  • Broom magnet
  • Extension ladder
  • Work gloves
  • Roof harness
  • Safety glasses
  • Pry bar
  • Push broom
  • Cat’s paw
  • Roofing shovel or garden fork

How To Remove Shingles: 7 Simple Steps

Removal of old roof and replacement with all new shingle being applied home roof construction; how to remove shingles

1. Preparation Process

Checking local building codes and procuring a building permit is critical before you start tearing off shingles. And because weather is inherently unpredictable, you’ll want to make the tear-off process quick so that you can add new shingles as soon as possible.

Moreover, try and wait for a clear forecast of weather before doing that job. Even though the underlayment should keep water out, the felt paper is fragile and can get torn or blown loose, making your home susceptible to water damage.

2. Purchase a Safety Harness

Having a safety harness system is imperative to prevent falling. As attire goes, you’ll want to wear long pants to protect against your skin scraping on the shingles.

safety harness to help remove shingles

You’ll also need a pair of shoes with soft rubber soles because they’ll provide a good grip. Remember roofing, in general, is a dangerous endeavor, so you must take these safety requirements:

  • Procure a safety harness which you can buy for about $150 at roofing and home centers. Using roof jacks, set them and one 2×10 board 3 feet away from the roof’s edge.
  • Be sure to wear long pants to avoid scrapes and bruises on your legs.
  • Wear safety glasses
  • Use rubber-soled shoes for traction
  • Acquire all of the roofing tear-off tools.

3. How to Prep the Roof

You’ll want to begin removing shingles at the section of the roof that is farthest away from the trash can. While you’re at the top, use your garden fork to tear the ridge gaps. Don’t forget to tear away at the top courses of the shingles as well.

The most preferred tool to use when tearing off shingles is the fork because it makes it simpler and easier to remove the shingles without complications.

Loosen the ridge caps by prying under the ridge caps using the fork. They will naturally slide down the roof. If they refuse to slide for some reason, simply take them to the edge of the roof to throw them away in the trash can below.

worker on roof prepping for to remove shingles

4. Work Your Way From Top to Bottom

Once you’ve removed the ridges, take the fork and slide it beneath the felt paper and the shingles. Continue to pull the shingles up using the fork to do so. You are sure to notice that some nails will come along with the shingles, and others will remain on the roof. These nails will be taken care of later in the roofing process, so for now, you can rest easy.

As you’re working down the roof, remember to remove the shingles 2.5 to 3 ft wide section. As the shingles roll up and form a ball after prying them off with the fork, push them down towards the roof’s jack.

You’ll continue removing shingles until you reach the roof jacks. When this happens, begin the process over again until you entirely remove the shingles.

Be attentive to any soft areas that you may walk across. It could be that the sheathing is rotted, making it possible for you to break through it.

man on roof removing shingles with tool; how to remove shingles

5. Debris Disposal

The removed roofing materials will indeed pile up by the roof jacks. Periodically tale the growing pile and throw them down inside of the designated trash can below. You can place a tarp on the ground and throw your waste onto the ground from the roof if you can’t position the trash can properly.

Dispose of the shingles before that pile up on the roof as they can be cumbersome even in a small quantity.

debris from removing shingles

6. Use Roof Tear-Off Tools to Remove Shingles

When you’ve finally stripped the shingles all the way and placed them near the roof jacks—remove all of the roof jacks. Take a fork and take off the remaining courses. Don’t allow the courses to slide off of the roof by prying them completely off.

Loosen the shingles and the eaves. Pull off the shingles with your hands and dispose of them in the designated trash area.

7. Clean-Up

After you’ve wholly stripped a section of shingles, return and pull out all protruding nails from the area. Grab a broom and sweep the roof deck until it’s clean. Be sure to walk cautiously because the asphalt shingle granules cause the sheathing to get slippery. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to remove roof shingles safely and efficiently.

The ends of two dumpsters in the driveway of a house that is having its roof shingles replaced; how to remove shingles

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