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What is a Roof Tear Off? (And How a Contractor Does It)

May 8th, 2020 | 4 min. read

What is a Roof Tear Off? (And How a Contractor Does It)

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Are you finally ready to replace your leaky roof? If so, your roof proposal should include a line item list of everything that’s going into your roof replacement. But are you confused by the line item that says “old roof tear-off”? 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been providing high-quality roof replacements in the Nashville area since 1990. Giving you and your family peace of mind is our absolute goal. 

Just like explaining whether you should stay home during your replacement, your contractor should go over the roof tear-off process with you. But always looking to educate on the art of roofing, I’m going to break it down for you here. 

By the end of this article, you’ll learn what the roof tear off process looks like. Knowing the 3 steps your roofing contractor takes to tear off your old roof will also prepare you for the rest of the roof replacement process. 

Before we get to the steps it takes to tear off your old roof you need to know what a roof tear off is. 

What is a roof tear off? 

When you invest in a roof replacement, the old roof will need to be torn off. What this means is that your roofing contractor will go section by section removing old roofing materials and tearing off your old shingles from the roof’s decking

The tear-off process is crucial to the replacement process. But what does the process look like? Continue reading to learn the 3 steps your roofing contractor takes to tear off your old roof. 

The 3 steps to tear off your old roof

The tear-off process of your roof replacement looks like complete chaos, but it’s controlled chaos. In this controlled chaos, a roofing contractor protects your property, tears off your old roof, and deals with your roof’s old nails. 

1. Protecting your property 

One of the main jobs of a roofing contractor is protecting your property anytime they’re on your roof. It’s especially true when you’re getting your roof replaced. 

After your contractor decides where the access point is, they’ll begin unrolling protective tarps from the gutter down to the ground. These tarps cover all the landscaping and foliage that surrounds the roofline around the base of your home. 

protecting your property while tearing your off roof

They do this to ensure all the roofing debris that’s coming off your roof gets into the dump trailer or down to the dump tarp and not in your bushes or yard. Once they ensure your property is protected, they’ll begin the actual tear-off process. 

2. Tearing off your old roof 

To tear off an old roof, a roofing contractor uses a tool called a “tear-off” fork. They use these forks because they easily slide under the shingles and lift them right up. 

roof tear off fork

Starting on the end furthest away from the dump trailer, they’ll start using the forks to tear-off your old roof by sections. While one crew is going from section to section tearing off, another crew is making sure the torn off materials end up in the dump trailer or the tarped landing zone in your yard. 

roof tear off

Your roofing contractor should always try to control where the roofing debris goes during the tear-off process of your roof replacement. 

3. Dealing with your roof’s old nails 

After the shingles are removed, something has to be done with your roof’s old nails from your roof’s decking. If it’s an exposed ceiling or exposed overhang, your contractor will pull the nails out. 

If it’s plywood, they’ll knock the nails down to ensure they’re hammered down straight and flush into the decking. This ensures none of the old nail heads are sticking up and they’re out of the way for your new roof to be installed. 

roof decking

What they’re really doing when knocking the nails down is testing the integrity of your roof decking. If the decking can handle the nails being knocked down, then it can handle your new roof. But if the decking’s integrity is compromised then your contractor will have to replace it before installing your new roof.   

After the old roof is torn off, the deck is clean, and one last visual inspection is performed to ensure the nails are knocked down, your new roof is ready to be installed. 

The rest of the roof replacement process 

When you invest in a quality roof replacement, the tear-off process lays the groundwork for proper roof installation.  

While the tearing off your old roof may seem like a small step, it's actually a crucial piece of the entire replacement process. 

The other steps of the process are just as important and some are more important. That's why you need to know the entire roof replacement process.  

Luckily, we already broke it down. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been replacing roofs for the residents in the Nashville area since 1990. We don't rely on tactics to sell to you, we let our history of high-quality workmanship speaks for itself. That's why we're proud to offer a lifetime warranty.  

Check out this article on the 8-step process to replace your roof to know what to expect on the day of your roof replacement. 

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor

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