Flat roofs are not designed to last as long as pitched roofs, so if you own a home with a flat roof – perhaps over your garage or kitchen extensions, then you may well have to remove it at some point so that it can be replaced.
This is not a particularly difficult task for anyone with reasonable DIY skills and the appropriate tools, but you can make it easier - and safer - if you work methodically. Just follow these steps and the job of removing a flat roof will be done quicker than you might think!
Before you start removing a flat roof
Step 1: Set up for safety
Safety is paramount with any demolition job and especially so when removing roofing. It is important to ensure you have safe access throughout the job, either by ladders or scaffold towers on bigger jobs. A roof must be adequately stable if you are going to be walking across it, so you should assess the stability before you begin and reinforce with working boards if you wish to avoid falling through. Rotting timbers are a particular danger as they can give way without warning.
Step 2: Get a skip in advance
Because you are very likely to need a skip to dispose of debris, you would be well advised to get one before you begin and fill it as you go, rather than getting one later and having to do twice as much work to fill it.
How to remove a flat roof
Step 3: Get rid of guttering
Begin by removing the guttering. This is relatively simple if the gutters in question are of the modern plastic types as they unclip with ease. For older types of guttering, the process might be more complicated, but if you are planning to reuse guttering then you will need to store it in good order to make life easier for you later on.
If you don't plan to reuse your guttering then, of course, less care is needed.
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Step 4: Remove fascia boards and gravel
Next, remove the fascia boards. If your roof is covered with chippings (usually used as ballast for the roofing material), you should sweep them up into rubble sacks for later re-use (if they are to be re-used). Try to avoid overfilling rubble sacks and keep them to a manageable weight, especially if you will need to carry them off of the roof by hand.
Step 5: Take up the roof felt and boarding
With the stones gone, begin taking up the roof felt. Start by prising up the sides, tearing it away and disposing of it directly in the skip. Use the appropriate work gloves, safety goggles and other relevant protective wear during this process.
With the felt off, the board comes next. Various different materials might be used to board a roof, but most types will be removed in a similar way. You will probably have to prise them off of the timber joists using a wrecking bar, being sure to remove any nails as you go.
Step 6: Dismantle timber joists
With the boards off, the timber joists can be brought down next. Depending on the construction method, this will likely require a wrecking bar to achieve. Once the joists are down, if you are going to re-use them, then you will need to detach any furring pieces and protruding nails. The furring pieces are wedge-shaped pieces of wood used to give the upper roofing its required fall.