house roof covered with tarp

Tarping a Roof the Correct Way: A Homeowners Guide

Storm damage is no joke, and left untreated, it can lead to a host of other problems for your home, such as:

  • Loose shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Roof leaks
  • Water damage inside your home

When you can, it’s best to let a professional handle roof repairs after severe weather, but sometimes, they just can’t make it to you in time to prevent further damage from occurring to your home.

In a situation like this, tarping a roof can be a great way for a homeowner to temporarily protect their home while waiting for more permanent repairs from the experts. Keep reading to learn how to safely tarp a roof while you wait for emergency repairs.

1. Document the Damage

Before you get on your roof, clear debris, or do anything else toward your roof tarping project, start by taking pictures of the damage as it stands. Include all broken tree limbs, torn shingles, hail spots, and other visible signs of damage that you can find.

In addition to these pictures, write down the date and time of the damage-causing incident. Describe what happened and what the current impact is for your home (blown-off shingles, leaking inside your home, etc).

If you forget to complete this critical step, your insurance company may not accept the claim you submit later. When they send the insurance adjuster to investigate your property, they won’t see any evidence of the damage. If you don’t have photo documentation of what your roof looked like before you laid your tarp down, there’s no way to prove what the damage looked like.

2. Gather Your Equipment

Once you’re ready to actually begin, start by gathering the following safety equipment:

  • A sturdy ladder
  • Protective clothing (gloves, sturdy boots, eye protection, and long sleeves)
  • A safety harness, if your roof is steep or high off the ground
  • A tape measure
  • A friend to help you

If you don’t have any of these materials on hand and are unable to purchase them, wait for your roofing contractor to bring a roof tarp to your home and install it for you.

3. Establish Safety

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, wait for the inclement weather to pass. Never climb on your roof while it’s actively raining or when strong winds are blowing. If possible, give your roof some time to dry before going up there.

Set your ladder on the edge of your roof and climb up. Have your helper stand at the bottom of the ladder and hold it in place while you climb. When you reach the edge of your roof, determine whether you can safely reach the site of the damage and, if necessary, whether your roof is sturdy enough to hold your weight.

Again, if at any point in this process, you determine that it is unsafe for you to lay down the roof tarp on your own, wait for your roofing contractor to complete this temporary fix for you.

Only when it feels safe to do so, climb toward the damaged part of your roof and remove all debris from where you’ll be putting down the tarp. Keep an eye out for any structural damage that would make it unsafe to walk on your roof.

4. Measure the Damaged Area

To be able to purchase the right size of tarp for your roof, you’ll need to take a few key measurements:

  • The length of the damaged area
  • The width of the damaged area
  • The distance of the damaged area from the peak of your roof

After figuring out the length and width of the damaged part of your roof, add two feet in all directions on each measurement. That’s the size of tarp you’ll need to adequately seal your roof and prevent water from ending up inside your home. Also, add as much length as needed to get your tarp to hang over the peak of your roof (this will help you to better secure the tarp to your roof later in the process).

5. Purchase Your Roof Tarp

When you go to your local hardware store to purchase your roof tarp, you’ll likely have two options to choose from:

  1. Regular tarp: This is your standard, run-of-the-mill flat tarp. To use it, you’ll also need to buy thin wooden boards (think 2x4s) and roofing nails. Using this tarp will cause damage to the remaining asphalt shingles on your roof where you nail the boards in place.
  2. Self-adhesive tarp: This tarp will have adhesive backing around the edges of the tarp, allowing you to secure it in place without the use of anchor boards or nails. However, the adhesive doesn’t always last as long as nails do, and it may still cause damage to the shingles where you adhere it to the roof.

6. Secure the Tarp and Anchor It in Place

Once you have the tarp at your home, bring it to the top of your roof and use it to cover the damaged area. Make sure the tarp extends over the peak of your roof and slightly hangs over the other side. Excess tarp can safely be left to extend past the bottom edge of your roof and gutters.

If you have the self-adhesive tarp, remove the backing and simply stick the tarp in place. For a regular tarp, lay your anchor boards along the edges of the tarp, pull it taut, and nail the boards in place.

Tarping a Roof: A Job for the Professionals

While you’ll likely want to replace your roof in the long run, tarping a roof can be a necessary stopgap until you’re able to connect with a professional roofer who can perform the long-term repairs you need. The next time a big storm rolls into town, you can rest easy knowing you have the knowledge you need to protect your roof and home.

When it comes to severe storm damage, it’s always best to leave as many repairs as possible to the experts. The team members at Roof Medic are some of the most experienced storm damage experts in the business. If you’re looking for a roofing contractor to protect your roof and your home’s interior, look no further than us.

Ready to get to work on your roof repairs? Connect with us now!


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