How to Replace Damaged Roof Shingles

Two Parts:Removing Damaged ShinglesReplacing Shingles

Damaged shingles can seriously cut into the life of a roof. To keep your house secure, it's important to regularly evaluate and replace damaged shingles to make sure your home is safe and dry. You can learn to properly evaluate, remove, and replace damaged shingles efficiently.

Part 1
Removing Damaged Shingles

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    Use the proper safety precautions. Any time you're getting up on the roof you need to practice roof safety. Wear protective eyewear, heavy-duty gloves, and gripping boots appropriate for walking on the roof. Preferably, you'll also install roof jacks to have something to stand on, and harnesses to protect yourself. Never do roof work alone.
    • How you access the roof will depend upon the roof itself and the location of the damage. Always use a secure, sturdy ladder when you're climbing up on the roof, and have a helper to secure it at the base. When walking on the roof, always walk slowly and secure your footing before taking another step.
    • If you're just trying to assess the damage and replace a few damaged shingles, it might seem like overkill to install roof jacks and harnesses, but depending on the complexity and the height of your roof, it might be the safest option. Roof work isn't something to rush.
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    Assess the damage. Find the damaged area of shingles and determine how many new shingles you'll need and the extent of the damage underneath. Look at the corners on the shingles surrounding the damage. Are they curled and pulled up from the roof?
    • Check the damaged area for damage to the moisture barrier or flashing, and check the damaged area for signs of seepage. If the surrounding shingles aren't doing the work of keeping moisture out, you'll need to replace everything in the square around the damaged area.[1]
    • In some cases, it might be better to remove all the shingles from a roof in urgent need of repairs and re-roof the house instead. If the shingles in the area surrounding the damage are old, brittle, and dry, it’s probably not worth taking the care to re-secure them to the roof.
    • Cracked or split shingles may be repaired without removing them, provided they're still in good condition. You can learn more about securing the shingles in the following section.
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    Remove shingles in cool weather. Asphalt and asphalt sealant will heat up in hot weather, making it moldable and much more difficult to remove. It's a lot easier to remove shingles that are cooled down and slightly more brittle than the moldable, so do the work of removing them first thing in the morning, before the sun has beaten down upon them considerably.
    • Wet shingles to cool them down before removal, if you must work in the heat. Wetting them down with a small amount of water will help them to tighten and firm up, making them much easier to remove, if necessary.
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    Loosen the adhesive under the tabs two rows above the damage. Removing all the shingles on the roof is usually done with a large hayfork , or rake-sized scraper used for removing shingles. Since you're only removing a portion of shingles, though, it's usually better to use a smaller tool. A pry bar, crow-bar, or the claw of a hammer works perfectly at getting under and carefully prying up shingles, separating the adhesive and revealing the nails of the shingles underneath.
    • A good rule of thumb is to remove at least five tabs in the second row above the damaged "3-tab" shingle. Pull up enough shingles to reveal the nails of all the damaged shingles that need removed below.
    • The end seams should be lined-up about a foot off to one side of the damaged one. In other words, you'll want to make sure that you pull off shingles in a radius around the damaged portion, to make sure you get everything.
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    Loosen the exposed nails. Slide your flat pry-bar under the shingles around the damaged portion. Work around the nail, pulling it up. Carefully lift each surrounding tab about 45 to 60 degrees. Go very slowly, but pry firmly, and try not to crack or break them. If the surrounding shingles are in good shape, you can reattach them when you're finished replacing the damaged shingles, saving you money and effort.
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    Continue loosening the adhesive and nails closer to the damaged shingles. Work your way progressively closer to the damage. Lift the tabs in the first row above the damaged shingle and withdraw the loosened nails from that shingle with the pry-bar by using the same process.
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    Loosen and remove the damaged shingles. Loosen the adhesive underneath the tabs of the damaged shingle, then pull them free and discard. If the shingles are severely damaged, don't try to salvage them. Just remove them and replace them with new shingles of a similar style to the rest of the shingles on the roof.
    • Continue removing the damaged shingles until you've cleared out the shingles that will need replaced. It'll be easier to remove everything before you get started replacing them.

Part 2
Replacing Shingles

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    Get the necessary replacement materials. To replace shingles, you'll obviously need shingles to replace the ones you remove and the materials necessary to secure. Most shingles that are in need of replacement are three-tab asphalt shingles. If your roof involves some other variety of shingle, you'll need to match your new shingles to the old. To complete the job properly, you'll need:
    • Replacement shingles. Buy more than you'll need at the home repair store. You should be able to count up how many damaged shingles will need replacement and buy accordingly. It's good to have replacements on hand.
    • Shingle cement or adhesive. Some shingles come with adhesive strips pre-installed, making this unnecessary. If you buy unbacked shingles, though, you might need to purchase additional adhesive to secure them to the roof before nailing them. It's a good idea to buy it to secure other loose shingles anyway.
    • Roofing nails. Most three-tab shingles will be pre-cut with guide holes that will make the installation process very simple. To secure them, you'll need roofing nails, which are heavy-duty, and about two or three inches long.
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    Install the new shingle. Place a new shingle in the same position as the shingle you removed. If the shingles are backed with adhesive strip, remove the covering and push them into place, then nail them to secure them. Most shingles have pre-cut holes for nails, usually three per shingle. Follow the directions of the shingles that you purchase, or use the other shingles on the roof as a guide.
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    Reseal under edges of all three shingles. Lift each tab slightly on the shingles as you install them, and apply a 1" (2.5 cm) diameter spot of shingle cement under each tab. Press tabs down into the cement firmly and secure the shingle into place. Continue installing shingles and securing them with adhesive accordingly, until you've installed all the damaged shingles along the row.
    • After you've finished the damage portion, you can start working your way back up the roof, retailing the loose shingles into place, as long as they're in good shape, and using the adhesive to secure them back onto the roof.
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    Secure other loose shingles while you’re at it. While you're up there working, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for other areas that look like they may become problematic in the future. Keep an eye out for curled or weathered-looking shingles that might allow water to seep in underneath. Using your adhesive, lift the tabs gently and re-secure them.
    • Shingles become damaged when water gets in underneath and starts rotting from beneath. If you rescuer loose or weathered shingles on a regular basis, you'll get a considerable amount more life out of them. Regular touch-ups can extend the life of a roof immensely.
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    Fix cracked or split shingles instead of replacing them. If shingles become cracked or otherwise split, because of falling branches or other types of damage, consider using adhesive to repair them as best you can, instead of removing them completely. Line the crack with a liberal amount of adhesive and stick it back together to repair it. Hold it in place for several seconds and let it seal.</ref>
    • Shingles will always need remove when they're brittle, curled, and difficult to pin back down. If the shingle is crumbling as you work on it, that's a sign that the shingle, most of the shingles in that area, and possibly the rest of the roof may need redone.[2]


  • In cold weather, avoid excessive bending of the shingles as it could cause cracking
  • If you are unsure about anything, don't risk your well-being; please consult a roofing professional.
  • In hot weather, cool shingles with a water hose to allow easy separation of the shingle tabs

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