Replacing Roofs and Asphalt Shingles

After a severe storm, you may find that your roof has been damaged and needs replacement. In some cases, such as with asphalt shingles, you can do this yourself. However, if your roof is made of tile or metal, it’s best to hire a professional roofer to replace it.

If you’re replacing your roof yourself, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step. We will cover everything you need to know, from removing the old, damaged shingles to replacing them with new ones.

Tools You’ll Need

Because replacing your roof is a big job, you’ll need some specialized tools to get it done. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • A ladder is essential for safely getting on and off your roof. One can also be used to prop up the edge of the tarp if necessary.
  • A pry bar – One will use this to remove the old shingles. Choose 12-18 inches long one for this job.
  • A hammer – You’ll need this for nailing down the new shingles.
  • Roofing nails – These are specially designed for use with asphalt shingles and have a wide flat head to prevent them from slipping out.
  • Roofing cement – This is used to seal the edges of the new shingles and keep them in place.
  • A utility knife – One will use this to cut the new shingles as needed.
  • Chalk line – A chalk line marks a straight line on the roof deck. One will use this to reference where to place the new shingles.

That’s essentially all you’ll need in terms of tools.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Roof Shingles

You may be wondering how you can tell if your roof needs to be replaced. After all, shingles can last for many years, and it’s not always obvious when they need to be replaced.

There are a few signs you can look for. However, that will indicate it’s time to replace your shingles:

  1. Curling edges of shingles – If the edges of your shingles are beginning to curl up, it’s a sign that they’re reaching the end of their lifespan.
  2. Moss or algae growth – If you see moss or algae growing on your shingles, it’s a sign that they’re retaining moisture. This can cause them to deteriorate more quickly.
  3. Asphalt granules in gutters – When you see asphalt granules from the shingles in your gutters, it’s a sign that the shingles are beginning to break down.
  4. An old roof more than 20 years old

How to Remove the Old, Damaged Shingles

Removing the old shingles is the first step in replacing your roof. This can be a messy job, so it’s important to take some precautions to protect yourself and your property.

1. Tear Off the Roof Shingles

The first step is to remove the old shingles. Starting at the roof’s edge and having made sure to remove any gutter guards, use a pry bar to loosen and remove them. Work your way across the roof until all the shingles have been removed.

While you’re doing this, be sure to wear gloves and a dust mask to protect yourself from the debris.

2. Start stripping the roof

Starting at the roof’s peak, use a utility knife to cut through the tar paper and felt. Continue cutting down the length of the roof until all of the tar paper and felt have been removed.

Some nails will still be holding the felt in place. You can remove these by hand or with a pry bar.

3. Work downward

When you get to the bottom of the roof, there may be some shingles still attached. Use a utility knife or pry bar to remove these.

Once the shingles have been removed, you’ll need to dispose of them properly. Check with your local waste management facility to see the best option for disposing of asphalt shingles.

4. Evaluate existing flashing

An important part of your roof is the flashing. This material is used to seal around vents, chimneys, and other protrusions. If the flashing is in good condition, you can reuse it. If it’s damaged, however, you’ll need to replace it.

5. Work around step flashing

The next step is to remove the step flashing. This L-shaped metal is used to seal around protrusions on your roof.

Start by removing the nails that are holding it in place. Once the nails are removed, you can gently pry the flashing away from the surface.

6. Tear-Off Shingles Along with the Edge Using Roofing Tear-Off Tools

Once all of the old shingles and flashing have been removed, you’ll need to remove any nails still in place. Use a pry bar or a claw hammer to remove the nails.

You can also use a nail puller to remove the nails. This is a tool that’s specifically designed for removing nails. This process might take some time, but it’s important to ensure all nails are removed before you install the new shingles.

7. Trash old valley flashing

The next step is to pry the existing flashing out of the valley. This is the “V”-shaped area where two roof planes come together.

Remove any nails holding the flashing in place and then pry it out of the valley. Once it’s removed, you can dispose of it properly.

Replace the valley flashing since you can’t reuse it because it is the same lifespan as the shingles.

8. Remove vent flashing

The vent flashing is the material that’s used to seal around vents. Start by removing the nails that are holding it in place. The seals are damaged and need to be replaced so the new shingles will adhere properly.

9. Clean off the roof

When done with the removal process, it’s time to clean the roof. This will ensure a good bonding surface for the new shingles.

Use a broom or leaf blower to remove any debris from the roof. You can also use a hose to wash the roof down. Be sure to let the roof dry completely before you start installing the new shingles.

10. Clean off the working area

While working, it’s important to keep the area clean, so no nails or other sharp objects are left behind, which can puncture the new shingles.

Ensure you also clean up where you threw away the old shingles and debris.


Replacing your roof is a big job, but it’s one that you can do yourself if you’re up for the challenge. Be sure to follow all of the steps carefully and take your time. If you have any questions, ask a professional for help. With a little effort, you can have a brand-new roof in no time.

Roberta O'Reilly

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