Tools to Remove Roof Shingles & Nails

The leak from beneath a single faulty shingle can cause costly structural damage, contribute to growth of interior mold and mildew and lead to larger, more costly roof repairs.

Garden Fork

Although unorthodox, the garden fork provides an effective method of removing both roofing shingles and nails.Although unorthodox, the garden fork provides an effective method of removing both roofing shingles and nails.
Replacement of damaged roof coverings prevents a tiny drip from growing into a huge project and, fortunately for the do-it-yourselfer, roof shingle and nail removal requires only basic hand tools. Whether you’re replacing a single shingle or entire roof, learn about the tools of the professionals and choose the ones that suit your project.

Originally intended for agricultural work, the long, thin tines of this common garden tool slide beneath shingles and allow a roofer to pry both shingle and nail from roof sheathing. Like an oversized version of the dinner fork, the garden fork features three to five skinny, flat tines which taper to a pointed tip. Placed nearly flat against a roof’s surface, the tool’s fork-like tines slip under roofing paper, shingle and nails without damaging roof sheathing.

Roofing Shovel

Specifically designed for removing roof shingles, the roofing shovel features notches along its front edge and a molded, metal pivot point along its rear. When pushed beneath a shingle, the tool’s V-shaped notches catch and stop against roofing fasteners. The shovel’s pivot point, typically located below the blade’s attachment to the handle, looks roughly like a welded, metal wedge. The shovel’s pivot point acts as a fulcrum, providing leverage and increased prying power.

Pry Bar

The pry bar, a miniature, thin-bladed version of the crowbar, removes single shingles and nails. Typically 2 inches to 3 inches wide and ¼ inch to ½ inch thick, the pry bar easily slides beneath stubborn shingles. Like a crowbar, one of the pry bar’s ends curves at a 90-degree angle. The ends of a pry bar often feature a V-shaped, nail-catching notch. To use a pry bar, a roofer slips the tool’s flat side beneath a shingle, pushes until the tool’s notch catches a nail and gently pries the nail free from the roof sheathing. Additionally, the pry bar’s curved end provides increased leverage, perfect for removing stubborn or stuck roofing nails. The “cat’s claw,” an alternative version of the pry bar, features rounded, wedge-shaped ends.

Utility Knife

Essentially a heavy-duty box cutter, this tool’s sharpened blade scores shingles and cuts roofing paper during the roofing demolition process. Half of the utility knife’s trapezoidal blade protrudes from a palm-sized, roughly rectangular casing. Specially designed utility knife blades, called “roofing blades,” feature a hooked rather than pointed tip. Roofing blades easily score and tear through composition shingles.

About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.