Tools Needed for Roofing

Timothy Sexton

Tools for installing asphalt or composite shingle roofing include many items that can be found in the average home toolbox or workshop. Most roofing tools are inexpensive and available at any lumberyard, home center or hardware store.

Don't forget the ladder when doing roofing work.

While a few power tools can expedite the project, they aren't essential for tearing off an existing roof or for installing a new one.

Roofing Hammer

A roofing hammer, also known as a roofing hatchet, is a vital roofing tool. This special hammer is equipped with an adjustable gauge that allows for rapid alignment of shingles at the correct exposure. Some versions have magnetic heads for holding nails, allowing one-handing driving.

Roofing Shovel

A roofing shovel simplifies the job of tearing off old roofing material. You can get an idea of what this tool actually does by knowing that its alternative name is "shingle ripper." Much more than a fancy sweeper, a good roofing shovel can actually pry up the shingles as it tears out the nails holding them in place.

Pry Bars

Various designs of pry bars make quick work of pulling roofing nails. A flat pry bar is effective for removing nails, and can also be used for demolishing parts of the roof.

Framing Square

A framing square is a right-angle measuring tool that assists in keeping roof improvements straight and aligned. It's essential for making precision shingle cuts.

Caulking Gun

A caulking gun is used for roofing repairs that require roofing cement or sealant. The caulking gun is usually a better choice for doing this kind of work than a self-contained tube of squeezed caulk because you have better control of the dispensation of the cement when you want to stop it to prevent messes.

Chalk Line

A chalk line is a heavy string wound inside a container filled with powdered chalk. It allows you to mark long, straight lines for cutting or alignment purposes.

Tin Snips

Tin snips are ideal for cutting the thin metal materials found on a roof, such as flashing. Tin snips can also cut through drip edges and gutters and they are available in right- and left-hand orientations.

Hammer Tacker

A hammer tacker is a hammer-like staple gun that drives staples with a quick slap of the tool head onto the material. It's much faster than a standard staple gun for installing building paper on a new roof.

Power Nailer

A power nailer significantly speeds up shingle installation and can make it easy to drive nails in tight spaces. A pneumatic nailer requires an air compressor and long hose. A cordless nail gun, powered by rechargeable batteries, frees you from the burden of the compressor.


Cutting roofing materials means investing in a couple of saws. A circular saw works well for basic cuts in plywood or OSB sheathing and other wood materials. A reciprocating saw is a better choice for rough demolition and cutting in tight spaces.

Cleanup Tools

A lawn rake, a push broom and a large-scoop shovel assist in the cleanup portion of roofing work. Building or repairing roofs results in a large amount of demolition trash that must be cleaned up completely so no one steps on a roofing nail. You might even rent or buy a magnetic sweeper to get as many nails and screws off the ground as possible.