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Project Guide

How to Tarp a Roof

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Assess the Damage
a roof with damage to the shingles in multiple areas

Before you begin the roof tarp installation, you must fully examine the damage and clear the area of debris. 

  • Avoid tarping a roof during a storm while it's windy or raining. 
  • Wear the appropriate safety equipment. That includes gloves, goggles, protective clothing and sturdy boots.
  • Use a ladder to reach your roof. Closely examine the area for broken shingles and other areas of damage. 
  • Homeowners with a steep or slippery roof should assess the damage from the safety of their ladder. Do not step directly onto the roof.
  • Carefully clean the debris from your roof using your broom. Removing the branches, leaves and other rubble will give you a clearer view of the damage.

Tip: Ask a friend to help you examine, clean and tarp your roof for additional safety and support.

Measure the Area
two people using a laser distance measure to measure a roof

Correctly measure the damaged area to buy the right size tarp.

  • Use a measuring tool to calculate the surface area of the damage. 
  • Make note of your measurements and choose a heavy-duty tarp in the appropriate size.
  • When unrolled, the tarp must cover the damaged area and offer four feet of overhang from the roof’s peak. 
  • Any extra tarp can hang safely off the edge.
Prepare and Position the Tarp
two people covering a roof with a large piece of tarp

Ensure your tarp is properly positioned and weighed down with 2 x 4 wooden planks before securing it to your roof. Your tarp must be fully sandwiched, so it won’t come loose in windy or stormy conditions.

  • Partially unroll your tarp to cover the damaged area from the roof’s eaves to peak. There should be an additional 4 feet of tarp on every side.
  • Create an anchor board by rolling the tarp's peak end with a 2- x 4-inch board, and nailing the tarp to your board with your 3 ¼-inch nails. The board must be 2 feet longer than the tarp's width and it should sit against the roof to avoid the collection of rainwater, snow or debris. Fix this board to your roof using a screw as a temporary anchor.
  • Sandwich the tarp by nailing a second 2 x 4 board to the first. This step ensures the tarp stays taut and fully protective.
  • Repeat the two steps above three times for the tarp’s remaining peak ends.
  • Finally, position the sandwiched tarp across the ridge and down the roof's side, while making sure it runs along the eaves’ line.

Safety tip: Do not position, prepare or secure your tarp without help; this is a two-person job. Additionally, complete this project when the weather is mild, and never stand or step on your tarp as it may be slippery.

Secure the Tarp
a man securing a tarp to a section of a roof

 Fully secure your roof tarp to prevent flapping. This will prevent water and debris from entering the damaged area. 

  • To begin securing the tarp, screw through the rolled 2 x 4 boards with your screw gun. The screws must pass securely into the roof.
  • Secure the tarp’s remaining sides with additional 2 x 4 boards using your screw gun and screws. These boards do not need to be rolled in the tarp.
  • All edges of your tarp must be secured. Otherwise, your tarp won’t effectively prevent further damage to your home.

Roof tarping is a temporary solution that will protect your home from damage. Make sure to get your roof inspected and repaired to avoid more damage inside your home. You can find everything you need to tarp and fix your roof, plus rent the aerial equipment to reach your roof, at your local Home Depot.