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How to Tarp a Roof: Step-By-Step Guide

Written by

Leroy Whitt

During severe weather, your roof can experience many kinds of damage, including:

  • Missing shingles
  • Torn or bruised shingles
  • Denting on metal panels
  • Exposed roof decking and underlayment

Left unresolved, these forms of storm damage can spell disaster for the long-term health of your home. Unfortunately, if your area has experienced widespread bad weather, it might take a few days, or even weeks, before your contractor is able to perform emergency repairs on your roof. How can you protect your roof from water damage until then?

Thankfully, knowing how to tarp a roof can help you save your home from further damage until you can access more permanent roof repair options. Keep reading to learn how to perform this temporary fix on your home’s roof.

1. Document the Damage

house roof completely covered with tarp after hurricane

Start with a thorough review of the damaged area. Take as many pictures as you’ll think you need to present as documentation to your insurance company when you submit your damage claim. Do this first so that they can get a clear sense of the full extent of the damage before you perform any work on your roof.

2. Collect Your Tools

If you can, wear the following safety equipment while working on your roof:

  • Goggles or other protective eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Long pants and sleeves
  • Non-slip boots
  • Safety harness

In addition to this wearable safety equipment, ensure that your ladder is sturdy. Have someone around to help you while you’re up on the ladder.

You’ll also need a measuring tape or other measuring tool to figure out the size of the damaged area on your roof. Finally, be prepared to purchase a tarp and several wooden boards once you determine the extent of the damage.

3. Clear Away Debris

Clear debris from the damaged areas of your roof. Remove any branches or roofing materials that came free from your roof during the storm. If your roof is wet, slippery, or steep, use a long-handled tool like a broom or a shovel to reach the debris rather than climbing directly on the roof’s surface.

Before proceeding to the next steps, determine the following things:

  • Whether your roof can still hold weight
  • If you have a break in the weather long enough to tarp your roof
  • If you have the skills and equipment necessary to safely climb on your roof

If you cannot guarantee the above things, stop work immediately and call a roofing professional to help you with tarping your roof. Additionally, avoid tarping during inclement weather, as wind and rain make it incredibly unsafe to be on the surface of your roof. It’s much better to sustain some roof damage than to risk your health and life.

4. Determine the Surface Area of the Damage

large house with missing shingles and covered with tarp

Once the debris is clear, figure out the size of the damaged area. Use a tape measure or other measuring tool to figure out how much surface area you’ll need to cover with your tarp. Plan for several feet of overhang on each side.

It’s completely okay to have excess tarp hanging over the edges of the roof, so err on the side of going too big rather than too small when purchasing your tarp.

5. Purchase Your Tarp

Your local hardware store should be able to supply you with a heavy-duty tarp for use on your roof. You’ll need to choose between buying a regular tarp or an adhesive tarp for your project.

Adhesive tarps get a bad rap, but they can be useful in certain circumstances. These tarps come with adhesive backing, meaning that you can secure them directly to your roof. Note that the adhesive will ruin the shingles underneath, and the tarp’s adhesive may not hold up against very strong winds or heavy rain.

A regular tarp comes without adhesive and will need to be secured to your roof using wood planks as anchor boards. You’ll need to secure these to your roof using long screws or nails. Again, this will likely ruin the shingles underneath the boards, but it’s the only way to secure the tarp to your roof and ensure a watertight seal. This method of roof tarping should hold up against all but the severest storm conditions.

6. Secure the Tarp to Your Roof

At home, get the tarp up on your roof and cover the entirety of the damage. You’ll want to both cover the damaged area and make sure that at least part of the tarp hangs over the peak and down the opposite side of your roof. If you don’t do this, your tarp won’t be as secure as it could be, and it may blow off the roof in future storms.

If you’re using an adhesive tarp, remove the backing and secure the tarp directly to your shingles or other roofing material. Ensure that all sides of the tarp are securely attached to your roof and that the tarp lies flat.

If you’re not using an adhesive tarp, lay the wooden boards around the perimeter of the tarp and in rows along the tarp spaced a few feet apart. Make sure that the tarp is pulled taut underneath the boards, and use nails or screws to secure the wooden boards to your roofing material. Get rid of any gaps or loose spots along the edges of the tarp where water could seep beneath the tarp and cause leaks.

For a Permanent Fix, Call Your Roofing Contractor

professional worker replacing the damaged roof

Now you have the step-by-step instructions you need on how to tarp a roof properly. As long as you use the appropriate safety equipment and securely attach the tarp to your roof, you should be able to avoid additional damage to your home while you wait for a roofing contractor to do your roof repair.

If you’re looking for an experienced roofer in Middle Georgia, look no further than Whitts Roofing. Whether you need storm damage repair or are simply looking to get a new roof for your home, we have what you need to make your project a success.

Ready to get started on your roof repair? Call us today to set up an inspection!

Leroy Whitt

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