Can you repair or replace shingles on a roof?

Household 3 min read

If the latest windstorm damaged or blew off some of your shingles, it’s important to act quickly to repair the roof. A couple of damaged or missing shingles may not seem like a big deal. However, if your roof deck is exposed, rain or snow can get under the roof, creating an interior leak, which can be a much bigger headache than a simple shingle fix.

If you’re a savvy DIYer, you may be able to repair or replace a couple of shingles, but most homeowners should call in a professional. Repairing a damaged shingle requires precision. If you try to repair one and don’t know what you’re doing, you could cause more damage to the area you’re trying to fix.

When can you repair or replace roof shingles?

Before grabbing your ladder and climbing on top of the roof to repair or replace a damaged or missing shingle, there are some things you need to know. We spoke with Kyle Shirley, owner of Sol Vista Roofing, to get his take on when you might be able to handle the repairs yourself, when you should call in a professional, and how to fix your roof the right way.

Replacing shingles doesn’t require as much precision and may be easier for the DIY homeowner. But it isn’t always possible if the manufacturer discontinued the shingle you need to replace. “In some cases, there’s a good replacement product that’s the same size, but sometimes there’s not,” Shirley says. If you can’t find a product that’s the right size, your best bet is to replace the whole roof. Cutting a wrong-size product to fit your roof is risky because it can cause other shingles to buckle and nails to pop.

You may also need a whole roof replacement if the wood underneath the shingles is rotten or there’s a large volume of work. “If the wind blows off a couple of shingles, we can probably repair [it]. But if the wind blows off 15 or 20 shingles … at that point, it’s probably more cost-effective to replace the whole roof,” Shirley says.

Depending on the cause of the damage, your homeowners insurance may cover a new roof.

How to repair roof shingles

Shirley says that repairing an existing shingle isn’t something he usually advises. However, if you don’t care what your roof looks like and you’re trying to eke out another season because soon you’ll need to replace it, you can use a tar sealant on a shingle or two. That’ll seal it back down for a while, but it’s not a long-term solution. Shirley recommends replacing damaged shingles rather than repairing them.

How to replace roof shingles

If you’re like most homeowners and you have an asphalt shingle roof, here are the steps to replace a damaged roof shingle.

  1. Asphalt shingles seal onto each other, so you need to break the seal.
  2. You can tap it with the back end of a hammer but be careful not to bang too hard.
  3. Gently lift the damaged shingle to break the seal on the shingle above the one you’re replacing.
  4. That’ll give you access to the nails keeping the damaged shingle in place.
  5. Carefully remove the nails from the damaged shingle.
  6. There are usually four to six nails per shingle, and it can take an experienced roofer 30 minutes to get the nails out.
  7. Remove the damaged shingle.
  8. Slide the new shingle into place. Make sure it fits properly.
  9. Fasten the new shingle to the roof using new nails. Be sure not to reuse the old nails.
  10. Re-adhere the shingle above with a spray adhesive or silicone caulking to ensure it sticks back down.

If repairing or replacing roof shingles isn’t the best option, you’ll likely have to replace your entire roof. It’s essential to understand your roof type and how to pick the best shingles.

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