What Is a Roof Tear Off? (& How It’s Done)

September 19th, 2023 BY First American Roofing

If your existing roof is very old, has serious damage, or is in bad shape after a bad storm, you’ll likely need to have it replaced. Luckily, roof replacements aren’t all that complicated — although, they typically require a complete roof tear-off.

Roof tear offs may sound intimidating. In fact, you’re probably imagining your home without a roof on top as you read this, but the process is actually a very simple part of the job. Tearing off an existing roof prior to a roof replacement is also the quickest part of the job.

Below we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the roof tear off process.

What Is a Roof Tear Off?

When you need a new roof, one of the first things your roofing contractor will do is determine whether or not the old roofing materials need to go. If the roofing materials aren’t any good, they’ll want to start with a roof tear off — which is exactly what it sounds like.

roofer with a hammer performing a roof tear off

Essentially, a roof tear off entails the contractor and their roofing team tearing off your old roofing materials, section by section. They’ll start with your asphalt shingles or other shingle materials and then work their way down to your roof decking.

From there, they’ll likely tear off the roofing decking too if it’s too old or in bad condition.

When a Roof Tear Off Is Necessary

A complete roof tear off won’t always be necessary when you’re having a new roof installed. In lieu of a tear-off, your roofer may suggest a roof overlay.

Your roofer will likely suggest a complete tear-off when:

A roof overlay, on the other hand, can be more affordable and quicker to install; however, having a roof overlay:

Ultimately, it’s a much better investment to opt for a complete tear off compared to a roof overlay.

shingles after being torn off the roof

The Steps to Tearing Off a Roof

As mentioned earlier, the roof tear off is the first and quickest part of the roof replacement process. The roof tear-off process is carried out in four steps:

Step 1: Preparation

First, your roofing contractor will prepare for the roof tear-off by taking the proper measures to protect your home and the rest of your property. This typically includes putting down protective tarps and placing an industrial trash container in the appropriate spot. This step is incredibly important as you’ll want to ensure that no damage is done to your home or landscaping by falling debris.

Step 2: Tear Off

Once your home and property are prepped, your roofer will begin the tear-off process. They’ll start by removing the shingles using shingle rakes (or regular pitchforks). From there, they’ll start removing the flashing, underlayment, and roof decking. They’ll work in sections to ensure that all of the roofing materials they tear off either go directly into the trash container or land on the protective tarp they’ve laid out.

Step 3: Clean Up

Once all of the roofing materials are torn off, there will likely be some roofing debris created in the process, like granules and nails from the decking. Your roofer will ensure that your gutter system, landscaping, and the rest of your property are clear from any of these things.

Step 4: Installing the New Roof

The last step of the roof tear-off process is installing all of the new roofing materials. In some instances, you may not need new roof decking, so your roofer may simply clean it up and install the rest of the new roofing materials on top of it. Installing a new roof can take anywhere from a few hours to a week, depending on the type of roofing materials you choose and the weather forecast, which makes it the lengthier part of the process.

What to Expect From the Rest of the Roof Replacement Process

When you invest in a high-quality roof replacement, the tear-off is just the beginning. As mentioned above, the installation of your new roofing materials is the longer and more difficult part of the process, as it requires focus, experience, and excellent craftsmanship. As far as what you can expect, it’ll all depend on the roofing company you hire for the job.

First American Roofing & Siding offers a full suite of roofing services, including roof replacements. Our team will walk you through all of your options regarding roofing materials and more, so you’ll know what to expect each step of the way, and you’ll be able to make a more informed decision to boost your home’s curb appeal as well as its value.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we can offer you and to schedule your free roofing inspection!