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Replacing broken 3-tab roof shingles.

Asphalt Shingle Roof Repair:

Replacing Individual
Roof Shingles

1/3 Of A Shingle Is Removed And Replaced, To Fix A Broken Tab

In This Article:

The nails are removed from around the damaged shingle, part of a new shingle is installed and nails are replaced.

Related Articles:
Skill Level:
2 (Basic)
Time Taken:
About 5-10 Minutes
Project Date:
November 1999
Start >>


High winds can lift up asphalt shingle tabs and break them off. When a windstorm damages a few shingles, they can be replaced easily if suitable  replacement shingles can be found.

It's not even necessary to replace the entire 3-tab shingle if only one tab is broken. In this article I describe how to remove one-third of a 3-tab shingle and replace it with 1/3 of another shingle. Removing and replacing an entire shingle follows the same procedure... there's just more nails to remove.

[See Tools and Materials] [Add your comments below the article]

Important: Read the Tips On Not Dying at the end of this article.


Broken Shingle Tab:
Asphalt roof shingle with broken tab.

This roof had about a dozen broken shingle tabs. Rain or melting snow can penetrate around the exposed nail heads.



Nails To Remove:


The blue lines indicate the edges of the shingle with the broken tab.

The blue X's are the nails that fasten the damaged shingles to the roof.

The red X's are the nails in the row of shingles above... these nails usually need to be removed because they penetrate the top edge of the shingle being replaced. In my case, I only needed to remove the left and middle nails.

Nails that need to be pulled out in order to remove a damaged roof shingle.


How to pry up roof shingle tabs to reach nails below it.
Separating Shingle Tabs:

The first step was to carefully lift the shingle tab above, to separate it from the shingle I need to remove.

The tabs stick to the tar strip on the shingle below.



Separating Shingle Tabs:

Then, I lifted the tab two rows above.

Why? Because this shingle covers the shingle above my target, and that neighboring shingle's nails will penetrate the very top of the shingle I am replacing.

Lifting shingle two rows above shingle to be removed.


Removing Shingle Nails:
Propping up the shingle tab and using a prybar to remove shingle nails.

I used my flat pry bar to prop up the shingle tabs TWO rows above the damaged shingle.

Then I positioned the small bent pry bar at the edge of the nail head, and gave it a tap with a hammer to drive the prybar under the nail head.



Removing Shingle Nails:

The little prybar dug into the shingle a little as it reached under the nail head.

Then I simply pushed down on the handle and the nail popped up.

Prying up a shingle nail with a small prybar.


Removing shingle nail with the claw of a hammer.
Removing Shingle Nails:

Then I used the hammer's claw to pull the nail out completely. I also pulled out the neighboring nail.



Once I got the hang of it, this process became unbelievably easy. I can yank a nail out in about 15 seconds, most of the time.


The Damaged Shingle:

Next, I lifted the tab directly above the broken shingle.

I had just removed some of the nails that held this shingle, so it was fairly loose, and there was less risk of breaking this shingle.

I only removed the nail to the left of the pry bar. The other shingle can stay.

Removing nails from the damaged shingle.


Then I repeated the above step on the next tab to the left.


Cutting out damaged section of old roof shingle.
Cutting Out The Shingle Tab:

With two nails removed, I used tin snips to cut away one-third of the damaged shingle... the section with the broken tab.




Broken Shingle Removal:

I pulled out the upper section of the broken shingle.

Removing part of shingle to replace just one shingle tab.


Replace The Entire Shingle Or Just One Tab?

I could have removed the entire shingle and avoided this cut, but I only had a few replacement shingles available.

There is no law that says the shingles have to be replaced in full strips. Each strip has three tabs. You could conceivably cover an entire roof with single-tab shingles. The three-tab strip shingle is a time-saver, not a requirement.

I used second-hand shingles here, removed from the other side of the roof, because the home owner could not find new shingles that matched. These shingles were mostly gray with splashes of black. We decided to salvage the shingles removed from the back of the house where we installed a saddle. The repairs on the front were done with old (but still in good shape) shingles, while the back slope was repaired with new generic black shingles.

This is a prime example of what happens when a contractor or homeowner throws away the extra shingles after a roofing job. It is absolutely crucial to keep at least one bundle of spare shingles when a roof is installed. Anybody that thinks they will never lose a shingle tab in a wind storm just hasn't been around very long.


Cutting a shingle into thirds, using tin snips.
Cutting Off Just 1 Tab:

I cut a single tab from a replacement shingle. I often use tin snips to cut shingles, especially when the weather is cold.



New Shingle, Just 1 Tab:

I slid the tab into place.

Sliding new shingle into place.


New shingle tab set in place in existing roof.
Aligning The New Shingle:

I aligned the lower edge of the new tab (on the left) with the other shingles...



Nailing The New Shingle:

... and drove in two 1-1/4" roofing nails, one here...

Nailing replacement shingle.


Nails in new shingle used to replace old broken shingle.

... and the second one at the left-hand edge.



A Dab Of Tar:

I used a tube of asphalt roofing tar to coat the nail heads and the gaps between shingles. This also helps hold the new shingle from being pried up by strong winter winds.

Applying roof tar to nail heads and gaps between shingles.


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Dap roofing tar (roof adhesive) in caulk tube.

The roofing adhesive (tar) I used.

It is also available in 1 gallon cans. The tube is the most convenient, although the most expensive per ounce.



After applying the tar, I pressed each shingle down.

Pressing shingle down to spread tar used as adhesive.


Propping up shingles to re-nail them after repair is made to roof.
Replacing Nails:

It is easy to forget about replacing the nails that were removed from the row above. These shingles received a dab of tar, too.



Completed Roof Repair:

The completed repair. It is hard to tell which one was replaced. There is a small hint here... the faint brown dirt mark, second row from the top, from the old torn tab laying upside down on the roof for a long time. Look at the beginning pictures in this article to see what I mean.

asphalt shingle roof after damaged shingle has been replaced.


Notes On Roof Safety Or

Tips On Not Dying:

Working on a roof is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of home improvement. A fall from even 8 or 10 feet can be fatal, or render a person paralyzed.

Working on the edge of a roof is best done from a ladder or scaffolding. Leaning over the edge of a roof, while on the roof, is very dangerous.

The roof slope, measured as units of rise per 12 units of horizontal run, can make a big difference in what safety equipment is needed. The roof in this article had a low pitch of 3:12, meaning that the roof rose 3" in 12" of horizontal travel.

I have worked on a lot of roofs with a 4:12 pitch, and I believe they are quite safe when the weather is dry and not windy. I have also climbed up roofs with a 9:12 pitch and almost fallen off. Certainly a roof with a 9:12 pitch or steeper requires roof jacks and planks to be adequately safe. Roof jacks are metal brackets that are nailed into the roof sheathing and/or rafters, to which 2x8 or 2x10 boards are affixed. The boards become stable surfaces to walk on. Several rows of roof jacks and planks are typically needed. A steep roof may require dozens of roof jacks to safely work on any face.

Even when working on 6:12 roofs, which I can normally walk on without slipping off, I still install one row of roof jacks and planks at the lower edge. This provides security and also a place to park my tools and materials.

In general, any person who is planning to work on a roof should consult someone with a lot of experience, if they are uncertain of their own abilities.

In no way will this author, or, be responsible for any injuries or damages incurred by any person who follows any procedures shown on this web site.

Read our Disclaimer.



More Info:
Tools Used:
  • Hammer
  • Flat Pry Bar
  • Small Mechanic's Pry Bar
  • Tin Snips
  • Caulk Gun
Materials Used:
  • Asphalt Shingles
  • Roofing Nails, 1¼"
  • Roofing Tar (in Caulk Tube)
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