Installing And Removing A Tar And Gravel Roof

What You'll Need
Tear-off roofing shovel
Roofing spudders
Pry bars
Utility knife with carbide roofing blades
Power roofing saw
Heavy duty tarps
Nail magnet
Container for disposal
Ventilator masks
Protective clothing, safety glasses and gloves
Access to potable water

When it comes to roofing projects, removing and installing a tar and gravel roof is a messy undertaking. To complete the job successfully—and safely—you need the correct tools and the right know-how. Here are directions to help you complete this challenging project.

Step 1: Weather Considerations

While a long hot, dry day laboring under the sun may not seem like optimal working conditions, it is actually the best time to tear off a tar and gravel roof. The heat from the sun softens the tar making it easier to remove. Check the weather forcast for rain, because removing a roof is a project that needs to be completed in a single day. You need to finish “drying in” the roof after you have removed the tar and gravel. This can be done by placing heavy-duty waterproof tarps across the roof and securing them in place until you are ready to install a new roof.

Step 2 – Personal Protection

Roofing is one of the most hazardous types of construction because it in addition to walking on slanted surfaces, workers are exposed to materials such as hot tar and gravel, which can be hazardous if not handled properly. Make sure whoever is working on the roof is well prepared with the proper clothing, eyewear, hat with a brim and gloves. Always keep plenty of ice water on hand to prevent dehydration when working under a hot sun. If possible, begin the roofing project as early as you can, according to local building codes. Do not forget to use ventilator masks to prevent inhaling dust and other airborne particles caused when ripping the roof off. All workers need to wear flat-soled shoes with no cleats or deep treads.

Step 3 – The Tear-Off Shovel

Provide each worker with a tear-off shovel, which is a flat shovel with a sharp lip to penetrate the tar and pry it loose as well as to shovel and shave it from the membrane.

Step 4– Use the Saw

Always break up the roofing material before shoveling using a saw with a carbide cutting blade. A carbide blade is important because it will be much stronger that the tar and withstand chewing into gravel. If you are not removing the membrane, cut only as deep as necessary to pull the tar and gravel away. You may consider renting a motorized saw or roof stripper, a lawnmower-type machine that will do the job in a short period of time.

Step 5 – Disposal and Cover

Dispose of all roof waste properly by carting it in a wheelbarrow to the roof edge to toss into a container on the ground. Many municipalities require specific disposal methods so make sure to check with your local building codes. Use a magnet to find all loose nails. Sweep the roof membrane clean. Cover it with heavy duty tarps and secure tightly to keep a waterproof seal until you are ready to install a new roof.