How Spending $35 on a Saw Blade Can Save You Hundreds of Dollars on Your Next Roof

Ken Collister

The next time you tear off a multi-layer low sloped roof (5/12 pitch or lower), consider cutting it up into 18×18 inch squares for a more efficient tear off.

Cutting up a shingle roof is fairly straightforward. Follow these steps to do it: 

  • The first thing you want to do is set the blade depth of your saw. (This will involve a couple of short test cuts to make sure you don’t cut into the roof deck to deeply). If you see a very small amount of wood saw dust, that’s okay. 
  • Once you have secured the blade depth, then start making horizontal cuts across the roof in the area you choose to tear off (about 18 inches apart).
  • Next make vertical cuts crossing over your horizontal cuts which makes a checkerboard pattern. It takes about ten minutes to cut up a five square area.
  • Now you are ready to start tearing off. When tearing off a cut, multi layered roof, remember that finesse is better and faster than bruit strength. The best technique is to get your tearing tool under a cut square and maneuver around its edges and pop it up. Once you get the first square up the rest come up easily and you can tear in any direction. 

Discover the advantages of cutting up a multi-layer roof before tearing it off.

  • Once a grid is cut, you can start or stop anywhere on the roof with clean edges. For example, you can tear off the bottom row so that debris does not build up or fall over the roof edge. Also, roof vents and pipe flashings come off much easier with path cut around them.
  • Cap removal is one thing that makes starting a tear off so difficult, especially if there are multi layers of caps and long expanses of hips and ridges. By cutting down the middle of the ridge-hip you eliminate the task of popping both sides of the ridge caps off, to get down to the wood roof deck and start tearing off.
  • Cutting a roof into slices makes for an easier entry point for tear off tools.
  • If the roof is cut into squares, it is much easier to transport the debris to the dumpster and it is easier to collect it off the roof (one prepackaged square of shingles vs. a hodge podge of shingles that must be stacked and carried to the dumpster).
    • Cut squares can be launched from a second story colonial where an unevenly stacked pile won’t make it to the dumpster. 
    • Shingles which have been cut into squares leave less nails behind because they come up with the shingles which saves the time of having to go back and pull them out or pound them down.
  • A cut roof is easier to tear off because there is no need to break through the shingles as you advance down the roof.
  • A cut roof makes a clean ending point if you cannot finish the entire side of the roof that day.

The cost of a Big Blue 5T Heavy-Duty Demolition Blade is $35 and it will cut about 50 squares of the roof area. You may be wondering if the time you spend cutting the roof up is worthwhile. As a roofing contractor myself, we have often cut up roofs with new roofers on the job and their response is always the same. They can’t believe how much faster and cleaner the roofs come off, when its cut into squares.