Tearing Off Old Shingles

How to remove asphalt shingles from a roof and remove the resulting waste.


Stripping asphalt shingles from a roof is quicker and easier than you might expect -- the hard part is the waste removal. Gathering and carting off old shingles is a dirty, tiring job. It is well worth planning your project carefully.

Find a disposal company that will haul away old roofing. Call around for the best price. If you tell the salesperson how large the roof is, he or she should be able to estimate the size of trash container you will need. If you need two containers, have them delivered the same day so your house does not sit partially unprotected overnight.

It's easiest to shovel and sweep downward, so place the trash container beneath the largest portion of the roof if possible. Or you can lay a large tarp on the ground and shovel trash onto it. However, you will have to pick up the debris and transport it to the trash container in wheelbarrows.


Working with a helper, plan for most of a day to tear shingles and flashing off a 700-square-foot roof, transport it to a trash bin, and clean up the yard.

Roofing shovel or flat pry bar, wide and narrow shovels, pitchfork, hammer, wheelbarrow, broom, nail magnet, tin snips, utility knife

Working safely on heights

Arrange for the trash bin and protect the lawn and plantings with tarps.

Tarps, plywood

Step 1

Start the tear-off at the ridge. Use a roofing shovel (also known as a shingle ripper) or a flat pry bar to pry up and remove the ridgecaps.

Step 2

Working from the top down, slip a roofing shovel under the shingles, push until you encounter a nail, and pry up. Take it easy here: Medium pressure is better than pushing hard.

Step 3

Use the shovel as both a prying tool and a shovel to move the debris. If a trash bin or tarp is below, carefully shovel directly into it. Otherwise stop before the pile gets out of control, pick up the garbage with gloved hands or a large shovel, and carry it away.

Step 4

Use the shovel or a pry bar to pry out all the nails. Do not pound the nails in. Watch for nails embedded sideways in the sheathing or wedged in joints.

Step 5

Remove all vents and pipe flashings. Work carefully when you get close to a pipe, especially if it is plastic. Pry up the nails holding a pipe flashing or a vent and lift it out. Take care not to spill debris down the hole and into the attic.

Step 6

Remove valley and drip-edge flashings. It may be tempting to leave the old flashings in place, but these should be removed so you can install new, reliable flashings along with the new shingles. Also remove the step flashings.

There is one exception: You may choose to retain counterflashings. Counterflashings can often be removed in good enough shape that you can use them as templates for cutting new pieces.

Step 7

Use a push broom to sweep away all debris. Even small pieces of shingles and twigs will create bumps in the underlayment and shingles, so be diligent about cleaning. Check for any overlooked nails by dragging the back of the broom across the sheathing.

Comments (3)
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6/9/2016 01:41:08 PM Report Abuse
woody957 wrote:

Very helpful,,,,,,,Cheers!

1/9/2010 05:43:28 PM Report Abuse
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