Tearing Off a Shake Roof

roof tear off
March 24, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Tearing off a shake roof is a very dirty job. Today we have a few ideas that may help this job go easier for you.

Most homeowners that attempt it will use a dumpster. Setting the dumpster as close as you can to the house is the best, so the roofing debris can be tossed into the dumpster from the roof. This will save handling the roofing debris twice, because of dropping the roof tear off to the grown, then gathered it up and walking it out to the dumpster parked on the street.

spaced sheeting on a rooofWhen removing a cedar shake roof, the house will typically have a skip sheathing deck that the shakes are attached to, as seen in the picture. Be sure to walk on the sheathing at the rafters so as not to break the sheathing board and step through the ceiling. There are many different tools used to accomplish this nasty job. Some use a shovel, pitchfork, crowbar or even a hammer to pull and pry the shakes off the roof. Since I have been in this trade, I like to use a leaf spring from a smaller car. A narrow leaf works the best. Grinning off the shackle on one end and sharpen it up a little make a great tear-off the bar for shakes.

As you can see in the red circle, the narrow bar fits between the sheathing boards and helps the workers roll the felt up with the shakes, making this a helpful tool. The guys tearing off the roof, can carry a roll to the dumpster or tear off the truck and toss the roll into it. Tearing off a roof is better left to the professionals!

Using a cloth debris tarp on the ground helps with the cleanup. Plastic will work also but should not be left long on the yard because it will cause too much heat and damage the lawn. Prior to the roof tear off it is a good idea to cover up things in the garage with a tarp-like your washer/dryer, tool bench, etc that you want to be protected. On an average 24 square roof with shakes, there could be over ten thousand nails or fasteners used. Some of these will fall into the attic, garage or landscaping. Using a large magnet to drag along these surfaces will help pick up the hard to see nails.

This photo was taken in 1988 was of my tear-off crew and fall protection was not always used back then. Remember when exposing anyone to a fall greater than 6.5 feet you must now provide personal fall protection, guard rails or nets. A tear-off job really should be left for a professional to do.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on AskARoofer.com or information sent by emails is the opinion of the writers. It is the responsibility of the reader to check for accuracy in one's own jurisdiction, as there are different codes and restrictions for different parts of the country. AskARoofer.com does not accept any liability for the use of information on this website or email. AskARoofer.com has no controls over product failures, installation, or climate conditions that may change the roofing process in your area. Our information is in general to our area and cannot be the same as your local town or state. It is advised to seek the local Building Department, Licensed Contractor and local Product Representative for proper installation requirements and code enforcement when installing a new roof.

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