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How to Tarp a Roof Step-by-Step

Hurricanes, hail storms, and intense winds can quickly wreak havoc on your home when you least expect it. One minute you’re watching the news, and the next minute you’re dealing with a significant roof leak due to missing shingles.

While it’s always best to have a professional roofer deal with roof storm damage, sometimes big roof emergencies can’t wait. If you’re experiencing a leaky roof and more rain is in the forecast, you can install a roof tarp to temporarily protect your home from the elements.

Follow these five steps to learn how to tarp a roof:

  • Examine the Damage
  • Take Photos for Insurance
  • Measure the Area
  • Position the Tarp
  • Secure the Tarp
how to tarp a roof- 2 blue tarps secured over a gray tile roof

Step 1: Examine the Damage

First, you must determine how much of your roof has experienced damage. As you examine your roof, follow these essential safety tips:

  • Wear safety equipment like sturdy boots, a safety harness, goggles, and gloves
  • Never get up on your roof while it’s windy or raining
  • Use a sturdy ladder to examine your roof, and don’t get up on a steep or slippery roof
  • Ask a friend or family member to help

When you’ve taken a comprehensive look at the area, you’ll need to clear the debris off before you begin. Carefully remove debris like branches and leaves by using a broom.

Step 2: Take Photos for Insurance

When a storm damages your roof, you should always take advantage of your homeowner’s insurance coverage. Depending on the scope of your damage, your insurance may provide coverage for you to get a new roof or repair your current one. But in order to get approved, you’ll need to prove your roof’s condition.

Before tarping your roof, take pictures of your damage so that your insurance company has a point of reference.

Step 3: Measure the Area

The last thing you want is to go through all the work of tarping your roof only to find out that the tarp you bought is too small. Use a tape measure to correctly measure the damaged area of your roof. Be sure to write down the measurements so that you can purchase the appropriate size tarp.

The tarp must be big enough to cover your damaged area plus 4 feet of overhang from your roof’s peak. Any excess tarp can safely hang off the edge of your roof.

Step 4: Position the Tarp

Now that you’re ready to lay down the tarp, you’ll need to unwrap it and position it over the roof damage. To ensure that it doesn’t blow away before you can properly secure it, you’ll need to create anchors as you go.

Never do this step by yourself— it is absolutely a two-person job that must be completed on a dry roof in mild weather. The easiest way to temporarily secure the roof is by laying down sandbags. However, a more long-lasting solution is to create anchors with 2 x 4 boards. Follow these steps to use 2 x 4 anchors on large roof leaks:

  • Roll a 2 x 4 board into the peak end of the tarp. Nail the tarp to this board to create a weighted anchor.
  • Position the tarp flat across the roof.
  • Lay several 2 x 4 boards across the tarp on each peak end so that the tarp is pulled taut.
  • Be sure to lay the boards at a slight angle so that rain runs off the side of them.

For smaller roof leaks, you can forgo the wooden boards and just nail the tarp directly over the damaged area.

Step 5: Secure the Tarp

Once your wooden boards are laid or your tarp is correctly positioned, it’s time to secure it with nails. If you’re using wooden boards for a large area, you will drive long roofing nails through the boards into the shingles. Similarly, without boards, you will nail directly through the tarp into the shingles.

You’ll have to replace the shingles that get nailed into, but keep in mind that replacing shingles is far less expensive than fixing significant water damage inside your home.

  • Homeowner’s tip: You may be able to find adhesive tarps at a hardware store that don’t require any nails. However, adhesive tarps aren’t as effective, and you’ll still need to replace the singles because the adhesive will pull off granules.

Safety First: Trust a Roofing Professional

Tarping a roof is only a temporary fix, so you need to get in contact with a trusted roofing contractor as soon as you notice a leak. Always try your best to have a professional roofer tarp your roof during an emergency, but if it isn’t possible, always consider your safety first and foremost.

When you hire Peach State Roofing after a Georgia storm, we’ll promptly take care of your leaking roof. We’ll even help you file an insurance claim so that you can get a new roof quicker than you can say “help!”

Contact us today for a free estimate! 

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