House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Remove Shingles: 4 Steps (with Pictures)


how-to-remove-shingles__2Shingling a roof is a long, hard, and draining job. You don’t get up in the morning and decide it will be the task of the day. It takes some planning, and it will go much faster and more smoothly if you follow specific steps:

How to Remove Roof Shingles:

1. Plan

measuring roof
Image credit: sandid, Pixabay

Once you have determined that your shingles need to be replaced, measure your roof to determine how many pallets of shingles you’ll need to purchase.

The next step is to look at your calendar and choose the date that you want to work. Roofing isn’t a one-person job. Now it’s time to hit up your family and friends and find a few people to help you. You’ll want someone on the ground if nothing else.

2. Prepare

roof shingles
Image credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere

Once you have measured your roof, determine what kind, and what color, of shingles you want and get them ordered. You may even want to do this before you set your date, so you know they’ll arrive on time.

When you’re ordering your shingles, order a few more than you need in case you need extras. If you ever need to repair a section down the road, it may not be possible to match what you have up there.

Clean-up will be much more efficient if you have a plan for disposing of the shingles as you take them off. The best alternative is to order a dumpster. It’s large enough to hold all the old product, and it has a big enough opening that it’s easy to hit when tossing something down from the rooftop.

Next, head to the store to get any other needed supplies or tools. You’ll need a ladder to get up on the roof, and a roofing shovel to slide under the old shingles to remove them. You’ll also need something to pull nails that are left behind. Roofing hammers or pry bars work nicely.

When working on a roof, traction is essential for safety. You need rubber-soled shoes. You can wear everyday tennis shoes or boots, but make sure that they are relatively new and have a lot of tread left on them to give you the best grip. These aren’t your best bet, though. Some boots and shoes are made specifically for roofing. The tread on them is thinner so that more of it makes contact with the surface of the roof, giving you the best traction possible.

Another good idea when roofing is to put roof jacks near the bottom of the roofline and put two-by-sixes across them. They will give you a chance to stop if you slip. They’ll also catch any nails or loose shingles as they roll down the roof. It’s less of a hassle to pick them up from there instead of from the landscaping, especially the nails.

3. Work

men repairing the roof
Image credit: pointnshoot, Flickr

Get all your tools and supplies together the night before you’ll be working, so you’ll be ready to go when your crew arrives.

Now it’s time to get to work. Ladders always have a certain level of danger to them. When you’re placing one up against your house, make sure that it’s on flat ground and sitting flat and square. You don’t want it to move when you are on it. It’s always wise to have a person at the bottom, holding it steady whenever anyone is on it.

The first thing you need to do is to remove the top cap and the first layer of shingles. Doing this will give you room to get the shovel under the rest of the shingles and strip them off in large sections, instead of one at a time. Start at one end of the building and move along to the other.

Rather than trying to remove the shingles from one side to the other as you did with the cap and top row, it’s more efficient to work in sections from top to bottom. Start in one corner and work, removing a strip of two to three feet. The shingles should come off in big sheets.

You can grab the shingles as they come off, but it’s much quicker to let them fall. Larger pieces will fall to the ground where someone can pick them up and toss them into the dumpster, and smaller pieces will be stopped by the two-by-six.

When you reach the bottom of each section, take the time to throw any loose shingles into the dumpster before going back to the top. Shingles are heavy, and the two-by-six won’t hold up under the weight if you allow them to pile up too much.

When you have all the old shingles removed, you’ll need to go back over the roof and remove any nails that didn’t come out with the shingles.

4. Clean-Up

man cleaning roof
Image credit: Uglyshingles, Wikimedia

Once you have finished removing the old roofing and nails, sweep the roof to get rid of any debris before you begin laying your new moisture barrier. You’ll want a push broom to make this job go faster.

Though a regular brush can be used to get all the loose nails into one pile to scoop up, it’s more efficient to have a magnetic broom. These are magnets on wheels that you roll over the surface to collect any metal items left behind. They can be as simple as a magnet on wheels, or they can have a brush, magnet, and vacuum. They are handy on rooftops, but excellent to roll over the ground. They’ll pick up nails you may not be able to see that are down in your grass.

Once you have finished, find a dry place to store your extra shingles for later use. Make sure that they lay flat, so they don’t become misshapen. They won’t be any use to you in the future if they aren’t flat.

Last, but not least, put your tools and extra supplies away, then go in and get off your feet. You deserve some relaxation time.

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools