Removing slate shingles is usually done for one of two reasons. You may be replacing an entire slate roof or simply repairing damaged shingles. In either case, it's a job you can do yourself with a little planning and know-how.
Identify the Area
If you are replacing the entire roof you can skip this step. To replace or repair damaged shingles, you will first want to mark out the exact area of the roof you will be replacing. Marking the area will tell you exactly where to stop when actually removing the shingles.
Have Replacement Shingles Available
This step is critical if you are replacing individual slate shingles. Removing and replacing shingles should be viewed as a single project to be completed in a single day. While you may be removing multiple shingles before replacing them, have the replacements at hand so you can install the new ones as soon as you've removed the old ones. Leaving your roof exposed opens your home to a multitude of vulnerabilities.
Remove the Nails
You will need a nail remover to pry the nails out. When removing multiple shingles, roof spades are usually the tool of choice while a nail ripper may be the suitable for spot jobs. Find the tool that you are most comfortable with that is appropriate for the size of the job. In some cases, you will need to remove the nail completely before pulling up the shingle, but most of the time you can just loosen the nail enough to allow you to yank the shingle up and the nail will follow. You simply need to get the nail started with the nail ripper.
Toss the Shingles
Tossing the shingles safely is actually an important step in removing slate shingles. Removing shingles involves moving nails. You do not want these nails to stay on the roof nor do you want to leave them scattered around your yard. If you are working on a large roofing project, place a dumpster on the side of your house and toss all nails and shingles into this receptacle. If you are working on a small project, consider using a small plastic bucket to carry on the roof with you, collecting shingles and nails as you go.