Repairing or Replacing the Shingles on Your Roof


A strong and properly cared-for roof is critical to maintaining the quality of a home. A leaking roof allows water into the living quarters, damaging the drywall or other wall and ceiling materials. The wet conditions resulting from a leaking roof can also result in mold growth within the home. This can pose a health hazard for occupants, especially those with impaired immunity or existing respiratory health problems. For more information on why a strong, well-maintained roof is essential and how neglecting it can lead to serious problems, visit

Working on Your Roof

While working on the roof does pose more dangers than many other home improvement projects, it still falls within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers with the proper skills and abilities.

Homeowners who intend to work on their roofs should have a stable ladder capable of extending above the roof level. Roofs with extreme slopes may require additional scaffolding to create a safe working location.

Repairing a Broken Shingle or Tile

Once on the roof and at the location of the problem it is time to assess the problem. In some situations, damage is limited to a single tile or shingle. Replacing the broke piece can solve the problem. Use a flat pry bar to lift the damaged tile or shingle as well as the piece directly above it on the slope of the roof. Work especially carefully with the tiles or shingles above the damaged piece. These will remain in place and must not be broken.
Once the broken piece is free, slide it away and discard it. Cut another tile or shingle to fit the newly created gap and slide it into place. Use nails, if you can reach the proper nailing positions under the other tiles, or glue the tile or shingle in place with roofing tar. Flatten the upper shingles or tiles into place and also cement in place with roofing tar.

damaged shingles

Single shingle or tile repair projects commonly result from some sort of accident or isolated material failure. Overall decay of the roof, or storm damage from wind or hail, is often more widespread and may require the removal of the shingles or tiles followed by replacement with new materials.

Replacing Your Entire Roof

Removing a roof is a big task and can be a challenging home improvement project requiring some preparation.

Start by placing ladders and scaffolding on the segment of roof where the shingles will be removed. Removing a large roof can generate tons of waste materials that will need to be hold to a proper disposal location, so place a dumpster or other large waste material receptacle under and adjacent to the roof. In addition, place tarps or drop cloths over any foundation plantings to limit damage from falling materials.
Start by removing shingles near the peak of the roof. A garden fork works well although specialized shingle removal shovels are also available. Slide the fork or shovel under the shingle and lift to pull it free of the roof boards. Work areas of shingles loose and then shovel or sweep them to the receptacle.

Use pry bars or hammers to remove any nails that remain in the decking. Work to clear the roof segment completely to the bare roof sheathing. This is also the best time to replace any roof sheathing that may have been damaged by the leaking shingles.
Many do-it-yourselfers prefer to work on segments of a roof rather than removing all the shingles at one time. This allows them to remove and replace the shingles from each segment limiting the possibility of rain damaging the home.

Alex Wayne is a full-time home improvement, plumbing and HVAC blogger for

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