Roofing Tear Off: How To Tear Off Your Old Roofing [2023]
Free Quote
Fill out our form to start your free quote.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Roof Removal: How To Quickly (And Safely) Remove Roofing Shingles For Replacement

Posted by Northface Construction

Did you know people sometimes install new roof shingles on top of the old ones? That’s a big no-no and a quick way to ruin your new roof.

Tearing off your old roofing shingles to replace them with new ones is a daunting but necessary task. It can be an unpleasant and dangerous job, but if you follow these simple steps, you’ll quickly (and safely) tear off your old roofing shingles for replacement.

Tools Required for a Roof Tear Off

Here is a list of essential tools to get you started on your roofing tear-off project. In addition, we’ve included links to some of the highest-rated tools on Home Depot.

If you don’t have or can’t purchase all of these tools, make sure to have the safety equipment, a sturdy extension ladder, a roofing shovel or pry bar, and a nail puller.

roofing shovel

Safety Tips for Tearing Off Your Shingles

Tearing off your old roofing shingles is quite the undertaking, and you need to make sure it’s done safely, especially if you’re doing it yourself! But you should definitely ask a friend or family member for help with this project, particularly ones with some home improvement experience.

Here are some tips to keep you and everyone safe during the tear-off:

How to Prep for Tear-Off Day

Before you start tearing off your old roofing shingles, make sure to do the following:

  1. Clear out any debris lying around the area, both on the roof or on the ground. It’s not safe for you or anyone else if there are tripping hazards around your work area.
  2. Create a work zone and keep all tools (like extension ladders) within it.
  3. Don’t mow or water the lawn before you tear off your roofing shingles, as this can cause your ladder to slide.
  4. Cover your landscaping with tarps to protect them from falling debris.
  5. Rent your dumpster early on and ensure it gets delivered before you want to begin. Get it placed near the roof for easy dumping of debris during tear-off.
  6. Purchase all of your safety equipment and tools—check off the list before day one.
  7. Have your new roofing shingles ready to be installed after tear-off, or ensure you have tarps and the proper materials to cover your roof and keep it safe from rain or other elements.
  8. Make sure you have a team of friends, family, or professionals organized to be there on the day. Make sure they also have safety equipment and know the plan before you get started. Then things should go off without a hitch.

roofing tear off

Simple Steps for Your Roofing Tear Off

Now the fun part—tear-off day! You’ve prepped for tearing off your old roof, collected all of the proper materials and tools, and you’ve double-checked your safety equipment: let’s get started.

Here are some simple, but thorough, steps for tearing off your old roof shingles to get ready for the new.

Step 1—Prep and safety.

We covered much of step 1 above, which is just prepping for the day. It’s essential to have everything in order before the day comes to begin your roofing tear-off. Refer to the steps above to get things in order.

Step 2—Secure the roofing jack and scaffolding board in place.

Your roofing jack will hold a board in place to capture any debris as you work your way down. It can also act as an added security measure or place to secure your footing while you work.

Step 3—Start at the peak and tear off the first shingles.

You’ll want to start your tear off at the peak of the roof. You’ll work down the line of the peak, then go row by row from there. Just don’t try to do too much at once, or you may find yourself in over your head with too much debris on the roof, creating hazards and risk damaging the underlayment below the shingles.

roofing removal

Step 4—Start filling the dumpster.

To save time, you don’t have to toss all of the debris in the dumpster as you go. That’s why the roofing jack and scaffolding are there, to help catch torn-off shingles so you can toss them at once into the dumpster. This will save you a ton of time and energy going back and forth the whole time. Tear off a few rows, then do a dump, and so on.

Step 5—Evaluate your exposed flashing.

Once you’ve torn off all the shingles, or the majority of the shingles, take a look at the flashing near the chimney, walls, etc., and make sure it looks good. Flashing is one of the things that may need more frequent repair, and with them exposed without shingles overlapping, it’s a great opportunity to repair or replace them before installing the new shingles.

Step 6—Finish tearing off the edges and valleys of your roof

Carefully use your roofing shovel to pry up the edges and valleys of your roofing shingles and tear them down to the roofing jack. Remove the roofing jacks and carefully lift up the final rows of shingles, allowing them to fall or toss them in the dumpster.

Step 7—Remove valley and pipe boot flashing.

This flashing should always be replaced during a re-roof, so go ahead and tear these off and toss them. They’ll be replaced brand new with the new shingle installation.

Step 8—Clean the roofing area.

Use your push broom and nail puller to make sure everything is clean, and there’s a blank canvas (besides the underlayment or roof decking) to install the new shingles. This is also the time to repair any water damage or other issues revealed during the roof removal. Cover it with a tarp if you aren’t installing the new shingles right away.

roofing tear off debris

Step 9—Final clean up

Once the roof is good to go, clean the grounds and use your magnetic broom to pick up all the loose nails or metal pieces that may have fallen around the grounds and landscaping. Schedule the dumpster pick-up, or keep it if you want to use it during the re-roof as well.

There you have it! A complete step-by-step process to tearing off old roof shingles. To safely and correctly do so, follow these steps laid out, and if this task seems too daunting to DIY, call the pros at Northface Construction. Our team can do roof tear-offs and replace them with a new roof right away. Contact us now for an estimate!


Hip Roof vs Gable Roof (Homeowner's Guide)

When it comes to building or renovating a house, one of the critical decisions homeowners face is choosing the right roof style. ...

Condo Roof Replacement Cost (What to Expect in 2024)

Condo roof replacement is a crucial aspect of property management, ensuring the safety and integrity of the building. Unlike ...

Roof Overhang (Standards, Benefits, Terminology ...)

When it comes to the design and functionality of a house, few elements are as crucial as the roof. However, beyond its primary ...


Improving Your Curbside Appeal Today