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How to Tarp a Roof Safely and Properly (Step-By-Step)

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Trying to find how to tarp a roof quickly and safely?

If your roof is damaged during a storm, one temporary fix is to tarp it to mitigate further water damage. But it’s not as easy as you might think. It can also be dangerous without the proper safety equipment. So we’re here to help you act fast when the unthinkable happens—and the tarp is your first defense against roof leaks.

If you have serious storm damage and need to tarp your roof fast, check out these steps on how to tarp a roof quickly and safely. But before you start climbing on your roof, remember that your safety is more important than your roof. If you don’t feel confident about tarping your roof, call a roofing professional to do it for you.

how to tarp roof

Step 1: Assess The Roof Damage

When the bad weather has settled, you’ll want to assess the damage to your roof or home’s exterior to see if a tarp is necessary. Signs of roof damage may include:

  • Missing shingles
  • Loose shingles
  • Discoloration
  • Granule loss
  • Interior water leaks
  • Sagging areas of the roof
  • Large debris damage

If you notice any of the above roofing issues, you may be at risk of water leaks. You’ll want to act fast to mitigate any additional damage, and tarping can take care of it immediately. While we don’t recommend this as a permanent solution, it can help buy you time while you schedule a professional roof repair or replacement.

Some tips for assessing the damage to your roof include:

  • Avoid working on a windy or rainy day
  • If you get up on a ladder, wear the proper safety gear (helmet, gloves, boots, harness)
  • Ask a friend or family member to monitor/hold the ladder
  • Don’t step on steeply pitched roofs
  • Carefully clear debris with a broom or gloved hands

After assessing the damage, you may also want to schedule an inspection and start filing an insurance claim. Insurance claims can be tough to navigate, so reach out to a local company like Impact Roofing to help guide you through the process.

Step 2: Measure the Area You Need to Tarp

Grab your tape measure or other measuring tool and measure a large area that goes well beyond the edges of any damage. This is the area you’ll want to tarp over this area to avoid any water being close to the damage and making its way inside.

Now that you know the size of the area you need to cover, it’s time to purchase a tarp. Be sure to get one larger than the area you need—you don’t want it to be too tight or too loose.

Standard tarps can come in a wide array of sizes: from a small 5 x 7-foot tarp to one that covers your entire roof. But for minor damages, you could get by with something closer to 20 x 20 feet. A good rule of thumb is that the tarp should cover your damages, plus 4 feet of excess tarp. Any additional tarp can hang over the roof’s edge.

This ensures it covers the entire damaged area but has enough excess to secure it tightly. You can always cut it smaller if you need to—but you can never add more.

Step 3: Gather Your Materials

In addition to the tarp, you’ll need a few other key materials or tools to get the job done right. Materials needed are:

  • Tarp
  • Sandbags
  • 2 x 4s
  • Hammer + nails
  • Screws + screw gun
  • Tape measure or a laser level
  • Ladder
  • Broom or shop vacuum
  • Safety Gear (Helmet, Gloves, Boots, Harness)

Depending on how you want to secure the tarp, you may use just sandbags—but for a more secure, long-term tarp, you will want to use the 2x4s and screws or nails to adhere it securely to the roof.

This method does damage shingles, and you’ll need to replace those when you do remove the tarp. This is much more applicable to roofers trying to cover a roof due to weather, but this will create more need for repairs.

Step 4: Position the Tarp and Secure It in Place

Before you secure any portion of the tarp, you’ll want to position it perfectly to avoid any blow-offs or revealing any damage underneath. There are a few different ways to place your tarp, but here are some critical tips to make sure you do it right.

  1. For a temporary tarp job (1-2 days), sandbags are the perfect way to secure it in place and prevent it from blowing away. Lay your tarp covering the damage, plus a few feet of excess, and line the edges with sandbags heavy enough to weigh it down but not put added weight on the damaged area.
  2. For long-term coverage (up to 90 days), you can secure the tarp using 2×4 boards and screws or nails to keep it in place. Roll a board inside the tarp’s peak-end, and adhere it to the roof with nails long enough to penetrate through the shingles and roof decking. These holes will need to be repaired when the time comes.
  3. Continue that process on all sides of the peak ends of your tarp, and then sandwich another board over the top, securing that in place so that the tarp is pulled taught and won’t lift up.

Note: This is at least a two-person job—do not try to do it alone.

Underside of fascia on a house with wood and insulation dropping through with the roof covered with a blue tarp in the winter.

Tarps Buy Time, But Repairs Make an Investment

A properly installed tarp can buy you some time until you make the necessary repairs to your roof. But keep in mind, a tarp is not a permanent fix. If the damage is more extensive, or if there’s significant water damage, it’s best to call in a professional to take a look right away or to handle any tarping for you.

However, tarps can also be an extra layer of protection for your home in bad weather. If you have a tarp installed and a storm is coming, secure it well and check on it regularly. Heavy winds or rain can quickly tear a tarp off a roof, leading to more damage.

In the end, the best thing you can do to mitigate water damage from roof leaks is to call Impact Roofing right away. Our expert team of roofers can inspect your roof, pinpoint the issue, and get your repairs done as quickly as possible. The longer you put off roofing issues with a tarp, the worse off they can get. So when disaster strikes, contact Impact Roofing.

What Our Customers Say...

Aaron PorterAaron Porter
16:42 28 Feb 22
I had some damage from recent wind on my roof. I was referred to Impact Roofing by a friend and have been extremely pleased with their service. They were prompt, professional and took care of my repair to avoid further damage. I would HIGHLY recommend this company if you are looking for any roofing help! I will be using them myself when the time comes to replace my roof.
I DurneyI Durney
18:07 08 Nov 21
We were in a bad spot with a leaky roof down at work but being a small business owner I can’t afford to be taken advantage of. So glad we chose PFM. Brad gave us a great deal was professional and fixed everything in a timely manner. What a blessing.
Brandon JohnsonBrandon Johnson
20:04 11 Apr 20
Like many of the homes in the area, we had some shingles blow off after being hit hard by Wednesday evenings storm. There was not an excessive amount of damage, but enough that we needed some minor repairs.I spoke with a couple of different companies on Thursday. While they were friendly, their main objective was to take a deposit to put a tarp on my roof and try to get my insurance company involved.While considering the options I noticed PFM Roofing was completing a job just up the road, so I stopped off to talk with Rusty and his crew. They were happy to speak with me and look over some photos I had taken of the damage. After a short conversation he quoted me a reasonable amount to complete the repairs, and even better told me he could have it done the next day. Sure enough, today they showed up to replace the missing shingles and nail down any other shingles that had been raised by the storm.Overall it was a great experience. If you are in the same boat and have some roof damage that needs worked on it is worth your time to give these guys a call!
David GrovesDavid Groves
17:56 06 Jan 20
We called PFM to come repair the repair made by a less reputable company. I had some questions so the owner promptly reached out to me and took plenty of time to address them one by one. I could tell he takes great pride in his company's work and wants his customers to be 100% satisfied. Would highly recommend to anyone in need of professional roofing services.
Informed ConsumerInformed Consumer
21:26 23 Jun 19
PFM Roofing did a whole new roof for me. Competitive Price, Excellent Team, No problems, great people. Professional, respectful, courteous. On-time, kept me informed throughout the whole process. Well-spoken. Top-notch service and workmanship, excellent results, awesome cleanup! Brad and Chance are real Pro's! I highly recommend them for your Roofing job.

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