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Replacing Asphalt Shingles

Before You Begin
It may be interesting to note that shingles are notched in a way that makes them look about smaller than they actually are. Once you lift a shingle up, you'll see that what appears to be three adjacent shingles is actually just one, divided halfway up by slots. Shingles aren't always sold individually, so ask at your local home repair store. If you buy a bundle, it will typically cover just over 33 feet.

The trick to replacing a shingle is not to make the problem worse by damaging adjacent shingles while doing so. This is especially true in cold weather, when shingles can become brittle. Hot weather presents its own problems, since hot shingles are no treat to handle. For these reasons, spring and autumn are the best times to check your roof and to make repairs.

Before you climb onto your roof, think about what you're doing and how you will do it. Wear non-slip shoes (no leather soles!) and, if you have one, use a tool belt to cart up your tools and nails. If you have nothing special, load everything into a bucket. If your roof has a pretty serious pitch, don't rely on anything less than a tool belt or apron, because tools have a way of disappearing over the side. And above all, don't attempt any roof repairs after you've had a few: cocktails may make the job more appealing, but they certainly won't do anything for you once you nail your finger to your chimney, or worse, pitch overboard and break your neck.

Once on the roof, take a good inventory of the shingles. Any that are bald, severely cracked, broken buckled or missing should be replaced.

Removing and Replacing Shingles

1. Start at the area just above the shingles that need to be replaced. Slide a trowel or pry bar to back and forth to gently break the seal between good shingle and bad. Don't rush the job or you'll end up replacing the good shingle too.
2. Use a pry bar or hammer to remove both rows of nails securing the damaged shingle. If you have trouble getting under a nail, try a flat head screwdriver.
3. Work downward releasing all damaged shingles.
4. Clean bare area of dirt, nails and other debris.
5. Being careful not to damage the roofing felt, position the bottom shingle following the pattern on your roof. If you need to separate the shingles, score them across the back with a utility knife and fold them gently until they separate.
6. Nail into place. As you do this, remember that the shingle above each one you replace it meant to cover the nail holes. When you get to the top of your repair, your last shingle may be a challenge to secure. As in the enclosed picture, use your pry bar to hold the shingle above the one you're replacing high enough to position the nail, then tap the pry bar until it drives the nail down far enough to be covered by the upper shingle.
7. If you end up with any exposed nail heads, slather them with roofing cement. Do the same with any damaged areas in the vicinity.

Tip: Your new shingles may sit a bit higher than your old ones while they "cure." The warm rays of the sun will take care of this problem over time.

Replacing Asphalt Shingles Replacing Asphalt Shingles
Replacing Asphalt Shingles

Hammer If you've got some questions about replacing asphalt shingles, head over to our Roofing forums and talk to other DIYers about your roof problems.