How to Replace Asphalt Shingles

Do-It-Yourself Shingle Replacement Guide

A team of men install waterproofing material and shingles to create a new roof on a rural building.
Andy Sacks/Stone/Getty Images

Many homes in the United States have asphalt shingle roofs. Asphalt shingles are an attractive option when considering a roof system for your home for a number of reasons. Among these are appearance, expected life span and cost. Another reason that makes asphalt shingles attractive to most homeowners is the ease of repair if minor damages happen. Before getting started, verify whether or not you have an existing warranty on your shingle roof system which may cover either the materials or labor or both.

Tools, Materials and Skills Required

The projects that turn out the best are normally those that you are best prepared for. Repairs to an asphalt shingle roof system require proper preparation for safety and completion of the repair. The following tools, materials and skills are suggested for completion of a quality repair:



  • Shingles in quantity and style to match existing roof
  • Underlayment as necessary
  • Loose roofing nails: 1.5" to 2" long
  • Asphalt mastic in caulk tube


  • No fear of heights
  • Ability to safely utilize the hand tools
  • Ability to set up a ladder safely

Step 1: Safety and Setup

Ladder safety for roof repair work
The base of a straight ladder should be one foot out for every four of height to the point of support. Photo © Jurin Roofing Services, Inc.

The most important aspect of making repairs to your asphalt shingle roof is to complete the repairs in a manner that keeps you safe. Remember that when working on your roof system you are working at elevated heights on roof slopes that may impact your ability to walk safely. If you are in doubt about your ability to safely complete the repair, please contact a roofing professional to complete the repair work for you.

The first step in making a repair to your asphalt shingle roof system is to setup your ladder and surrounding area to create a safe work zone. Set your ladder up so that it maintains a 4:1 ratio in the angle of the ladder. Make sure that the ladder has firm footing and if necessary have someone foot the base of the ladder to prevent it from slipping out. In addition, if you are using an aluminum ladder make sure that you are not setting up the ladder near any power lines entering the home. Finally make sure that the ladder is tied off to the home and that the ladder extends a minimum of 3 feet above the roof edge.

Step 2: Remove the Damaged Shingle

Remove damaged shingle
Step Two -- Remove Damaged Shingle. Photo © Jurin Roofing Services, Inc.

Very rarely do damages occur that remove the entire shingle and the nails. As a result, you need to remove the damaged shingle and the nails around the shingle to allow for the installation of the repair material.

The first part in preparing to remove the damaged roof shingle is to break the sealant strips from around the area to be repaired. To do this, take the flat pry bar and slide it up and under the bottom edge of the shingle with gentle pressure to break the sealant strip free.

After the sealant strip has been separated the nails must be removed. Remember that you must remove the nails not only from the shingle that has been damaged and is being replaced, but also from the surrounding shingles to allow the new shingle to slide into place. Utilize the flat pry bar and access the nails from under the shingle that it penetrates.

Step 3: Install Repair Material

Installation of replacement shingle
Install Shingle. Photo ©

After the original shingle and the nails have been removed assess the area. If the deck or underlayment felt paper has been damaged it is recommended that these layers be repaired before installing new asphalt shingles.

In order to repair the roof deck, you need to remove a sufficient amount of the shingles and underlayment to expose the surface of the plywood that spans a minimum of two rafters. You must remove enough decking to allow a new piece of roof deck to attach to a minimum of two rafters. After the deteriorated deck has been removed, install a new piece of deck that is comparable in thickness to the existing roof deck. Then attach the decking to the rafters using a ​nail or screw type fastener that provides sufficient penetration to secure the new deck to the rafters.

After the deck has been repaired as necessary, overlay the new deck with new underlayment. The underlayment will be required to meet building code requirements. Building code may require asphalt impregnated felt paper or a self-adhering ice and water shield depending upon the location of the building. Contact your local municipality if you are unsure of the current code standards. The underlayment may be attached to the roof deck using staples or roofing nails.

After installing the underlayment, you may install the repair shingles. It may be necessary to cut the repair shingles to size if the damaged shingles were not full size. Once the shingle has been cut to fit and laid in place, attach the shingles with the roofing nails. Make an effort to avoid nailing the shingle into the same hole that the prior shingle was nailed into. Review the material wrapper or manufacturer website for the shingles to determine the required nailing pattern. Remember to refasten the surrounding shingles where you may have removed nails to install the repair shingle.

The final step is to insert a small bead of asphalt mastic below the tabs of the shingles for the new repair shingle as well as any other areas where the shingles were loosened. This mastic provides some attachment in lieu of the sealant strip.